Yesterday we helped a big client run an off-site meeting about empathy.
Empathy with consumers, that is. Sincerely understanding the people who buy, rent, use or refuse your product or service.
Empathy is critical if you work in marketing and advertising. The one main lesson of my career (learned and relearned) has been know your consumer. Knowing your consumer permits you to invent the right product, find the right message to sell it, choose the right media to engage consumers with it, and design the right ads for each medium.*
Before yesterday's off-site meeting we all read the book Wired to Care by Dev Patnaik. It's a great book and we had it brought to life by the author himself, who helped us run several workshops. (That's him in the above photo, flanked by two of the meeting organizers.)
I read very few business books but strongly recommend this one. In summary, it says (1) empathy matters, (2) as humans we have a natural ability to empathize, and (3) if we develop this ability in our professional lives, the business payoff is huge. Read the book as a way to start developing your own empathic abilities.
The book is just a start, however. Knowing your consumer is a simple concept to understand but a hard one to practice. My challenge to myself is to continue practicing these principles of empathy in my business going forward.
* Remember that the "ad" in Ad Majorem includes all marketing communications, from social media to direct mail to Internet gaming to TV commercials.