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Strategy

Tap into Your Empathetic Side

Emotionally intelligent marketing is about so much more than just being nice to your customers (although that’s helpful too)

Lauren Dowdle
April 28 2018

Some marketers just have that it factor. They know how to relate to customers on a personal level, genuinely care about them and seem to speak their language. You can’t quite put your finger on it, that is, until now. If you’ve met one of these enviable marketers, you’ve been in the presence of someone with serious emotional intelligence (commonly referred to as EI or EQ). As every good marketer knows, success is based off of the ability to build relationships with your customers, and their emotions can play a large role in that process. So it’s no wonder emotional intelligence — the ability to identify and manage your emotions and those of others — can (and should) factor into your marketing efforts. Before we dive into the role emotional intelligence plays in marketing, let’s break down its meaning and why it’s important for businesses to understand and practice the concept.

Consumers make emotional decisions

Customers want to buy from companies and people they like. That’s not a new idea by any means, but helping to define what makes a customer enjoy interacting with you helps turn that vague concept into a reality: 85 percent of your financial success comes from skills in human engineering, personality and ability to negotiate, lead and communicate, according to research by the Carnegie Institute of Technology. People skills sell, which takes us to emotional intelligence. That term doesn’t just mean being nice, but instead refers to how well you recognize your and other’s emotions. You can break down emotional intelligence into five main components, according to author Daniel Goleman: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.

People who are emotionally intelligent are able to understand how they feel and clearly express those feelings, allowing them to better relate to the feelings of others. Being able to connect on this type of level with customers is what’s going to separate you from the pack. One of Google’s original engineers, Chade-Meng Tan, saw the importance of this concept and created an emotional intelligence course, reaching thousands of views. He uses the five key components to inspire development, ultimately empowering the employees professionally and personally.

In an interview with Fast Company, Tan said, “Emotional-intelligence skills support collaboration, more open communication, more transparency and less posturing, less ego and more people working for the greater good and for the purpose of the organization succeeding.”

Once you have a clear understanding of this practice, you can integrate emotional intelligence into your marketing efforts — and start enjoying the benefits.

Role of emotional intelligence in marketing

Brands that understand the emotions that go into making purchases are the ones carrying out the more successful marketing efforts. They take a proactive approach to better control audience behavior, identify problems and create campaigns they know will engage customers. Instead of speaking to or at their customers, these companies are focused on having conversations about things they value. Feedback tools like surveys, social media management platforms and polls will help you tap into what your customers are thinking and feeling. Once you figure out what they’re after, you can start to dive into the why — because figuring out what drives their wants and needs (tapping into their emotions) is where marketing magic is made. With that information in tow, you can craft personalized, engaging content and campaigns you know they’ll feel connected to on an emotional level. That will help them feel more invested in your brand, leading to more interactions and sales.

Ameriprise Financial tapped into its emotional intelligence with a marketing campaign based around its “Be Brilliant” brand platform. The basis for the campaign was to share real goals that people achieved working with a financial planning advisor, while focusing on their authentic stories. The company conducted research to learn about consumers’ ambitions and then used those insights to craft the campaign. People were basically able to see their dreams being fulfilled through these ad videos.

How does it affect retention?

Anytime you’re able create a personalized, targeted experience for your customers like what Ameriprise did in their campaign, you’re laying the groundwork for trust, engagement and loyalty. So, the better your grasp of emotional intelligence is with your marketing efforts, the better your customer experience and retention rates will be. The two go hand in hand. And retaining customers is about more than just giving them what they want right now. You also need to use that intelligence to figure out what they will need going forward if you want to develop a long-lasting relationship. Take Apple’s strategy, for example. They knew their customers enjoyed listening to music back in 2001, but they didn’t just create another tape or CD player. They invented a whole new space with the iPod, showing they knew their customers appreciated (and expected) cutting-edge products. (Apple also knows how to hit the mark with their emotionally driven commercials: They’re selling a feeling and experience, instead of just a product.)

You need to understand your customer’s emotions so well that you can drive the conversation and take them in the direction you want to go. When you reach that point, you’ll have the coveted it factor all marketers are after.

Get in touch with your emotions

Not much of a natural people person? That’s OK. You can work to greatly improve your emotional intelligence. Learn to reflect on your emotions, put yourself in other’s shoes, ask others how they view your interactions with them and take time to listen. It’s important to get a firm grasp on the emotional side of marketing and retention because you better believe customers are going to make purchasing decisions based off of their emotions. Once you figure out what motivates them, you can start building real connections with your customers.

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