Empathy Marketing: How to Use Design Thinking in Your Marketing Strategy?

In a world full of brands and products, making an impact on your customers is very important. There are tons of companies who probably have a similar product as you do. It’s very easy to forget a product once a customer finds its better version. Or simply, when a customer finds another brand that is closer to their needs and beliefs. 

Empathy is what makes marketing good and effective.

I think that when you don’t know what is it that your customer feels, you can’t really reach them with your message. Maybe you’ll be able to close some sales from early adopters, but you’ll never really get loyal customers who identify themselves with your brand. 

Unfortunately, a lot of brands don’t understand empathy and are struggling to incorporate it into their working. Everyone’s turned towards new technologies and automatization and they forget the essential thing that makes up human beings – emotions. 

Your target customers aren’t buying machines who can’t wait to spend their money on something. Your target customers are human beings with emotions – and you need to treat them like that. 

The reason why many marketing strategies fail is that brands don’t understand their customers. And why don’t they understand them?

The answer is simple, but yet, overlooked. They don’t talk to them.

Talking to customers can reveal many obvious things you’d never figure out by yourself. Talking to customers and listening to their problems can help you get closer to them and discover what is it that they really need.

design thinking in marketing

Talking to customers is the first step towards a successful marketing strategy.

However, it’s not so easy to talk to them either. No one answers to boring surveys anymore.

So, how can you really talk to your customers?

Design thinking is a great way to do it. 

Design thinking is a user-centered technique for solving problems that helps companies achieve great results. It involves activities like surveying, concept creation, prototyping, and mapping customer journeys and includes users in all of them. It’s a concept of extensive collaboration between the users and the product makers. 

Some marketers are skeptic about the “design thinking in marketing” concept. They rely solely on data, believing it’s the most important thing to rely on when it comes to creating a marketing strategy. And, that’s kind of true. 

But, numbers can’t replace a meaningful conversation. Numbers can’t replace emotions. When talking to your customers, you’ll reveal their hopes, dreams, and problems. And that’s something you can’t reveal through numbers. At least not yet. 

Talking to your customers will reveal things that will help you connect with them. It can put a different light on how you interpret customer data. Maybe you already know they like to read, but now you’ll find out why they do it and how they do it.

Talking to them can help you understand why your call-to-action didn’t work and what’s the exact expression you should include in order for it to convert. You’ll get context to your data and you’ll make your data alive. 

Design thinking is much more than traditional business models.

It focuses on customer empathy through examples from the real world

The design thinking methodology puts users in a creative setting and leads them through the process of empathy, definition, creation, prototype, and testing.

The empathy of the users is used as a guiding statement that leads to the best solution to the problem they’re having. This means that it can be used no matter the size of the company or the industry where it operates. The only thing that matters is the user. 

Engaging with users during the product development process will give your product exactly those features that they need. Simplicity, meaning, durability, productivity, and entertainment.

That’s how Apple came up with the iPhone. No one needed it before it was released. Now, almost everyone has it. IBM, Nike, Tesla, Uber, and Google are other companies that have embraced this innovative methodology, using it to create user-centered products.

Design Thinking in Marketing – Airbnb 

Airbnb achieved great success with design thinking. Back in 2009, the company was about to fail. They had a weekly revenue of about $200. While they were trying to figure out what wasn’t working, the team found a pattern between 40 listings in New York. They all had really, really, bad photos of the properties. 

So, Paul Graham from the Y Combinator, which was at the time facilitating Airbnb, decided to go to New York and talk to the customers who were listing properties. He didn’t really have data to back his decision. He just decided to do it. He spent some time with the property owners and helped them make better photos. 

The results came a week later – the weekly revenue was doubled and that’s when the turning point occurred. Since then, things at Airbnb have been going up. 

Design Thinking in Marketing – Stanford Hospital

Stanford Hospital also used design thinking in a brilliant way. Stanford doctors, nurses, and technicians provided simulated care to simulated patients during a two-day-long design thinking course. They wanted to figure out how to improve the patient experience in the hospital’s emergency department, so they acted as patients and family members in order to really get the feeling of how it is to be part of the emergency department atmosphere. They wanted to learn to empathize with their patients and their family members. 

During the process, healthcare workers asked patients how they felt, interviewed patients and families about their experiences with medical care, and finally, stepped into their shoes. The collected information was used to create a plan for a redesign of the unit in a way that’s more appealing to patients and their families. 

Design thinking comes in many shapes and styles. Every product is different, so every design thinking process is different. It all depends on how you want to approach your customers and what you want to achieve. One thing is certain – it brings really great results

 

Tina Janeva

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