It's Time For Empathy Marketing

from the marketing-is-not-a-one-way-street dept

While most people think that marketing is about “convincing someone to buy stuff,” that was not its original purpose. Instead, that’s what it’s become for many. But the real purpose for marketing was supposed to be to listen to what the market was saying, and help create products that met their needs. The good news is that, with the economy struggling, some are starting to go back to that definition. David Churbuck, who works in marketing at Lenovo, is predicting that marketing is starting to go through a massive change towards what he calls “empathy marketing.” It gets beyond the old “four Ps” of marketing that we were all taught in marketing class, and gets to actually taking the time to actually talk with (not to) your customer — and some of the time that means having the brand shut up and let everyone else do the talking.

This is one of the benefits that we’ve seen in preaching the message that content is advertising and advertising is content. Traditional advertising (and, increasingly, marketing as well) has been about a one-way street: pushing a message and trying to get it ingrained in people’s heads. It’s had little to do with getting people to interact, embrace and share. But when you actually take the time to recognize that marketing and advertising should be a two way street, where you’re holding a real conversation and everyone is getting value out of it, you start to get beyond “pushing a message” and really get to a place where good things happen. It’s what we’ve been helping plenty of companies do via the Insight Community. Companies like Dell and American Express have tapped into the community to create discussions and generate insights in ways that are useful to everyone.

Users find more of what they’re actually looking for, build up better trust in certain companies, and actually are a part of the ongoing process and discussion. Companies get to better interact with customers or potential customers, and get real advice and feedback in return. Whether it’s called conversational marketing or empathy marketing, it’s a good thing: it’s a return to real marketing, where it wasn’t about convincing people to buy, but really interacting with the market to figure out how to provide what it needs, rather than telling the market what the marketers want to sell.

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Comments on “It's Time For Empathy Marketing”

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wheatus (user link) says:

Re: Re:

That’s a crap comment Harold…considering I have offered…without anonymity I might add, to swap qualifications with you here in public on some of Mike’s other music centric stories and you have COMPLETELY PUSSED OUT!.

It’s ok though…I, like many others here at TD are learning not to take you very seriously.

But for those who DO care about the truth…here’s something we should all watch…Mike has been kind enough to pass on to you some of the coolest pertinent of info mentioned in this Trent Reznor interview….but still, ain’t nothin’ like the raw data….

PS…Harold, don’t bother linking… the entire interview is in L33t.

Weird Harold (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Same reply as always, My info isn’t hiding.

Most importantly, when you start debating me rather than the content of the site, you have already lost your way.

@nick: My point is this: “expert” implies relevant experience in a field, at the top levels or beyond. So an “expert” in business who is in their first year of an MBA and who’s entire experience appears to be running a blog isn’t exactly what I would consider an expert. perhaps the term “consultant” or “opinion provider” might be more relevant.

As for age, well, would you suggest that Richard Branson should have stopped at 30? Has he had no good business ideas since? Should Steve Jobs have stopped working for apple after 26 because there was nothing left for him to do?

The younger guys are coming up with some innovative ideas for websites and whatnot, mostly because they aren’t constrained by things like actually having business plans that include a route to profitablity. Taking the occasional grand slam (such as Google or Amazon) as the rule rather than the exception is, well, misleading. The internet is littered with the ghosts of “great ideas” that were entirely unsupportable as businesses.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What is the actual requirement to be an “insight expert”, besides having an opinion and perhaps a blog /zine for a couple of years?

According to Insight Community Acceptance Standards for expertS Document revision 1.4 (The IC-ASS) do note, there were a few new additional requirements ratified on March 28, 2009.

Most notably, the community now requires face pic and thoroughly documented contortion skills.

Per IC-ASS 1.3, the previously accepted practices are enforced: Here’s a quick rundown. The Community typically holds a conference-call/voice-vote the 3rd Saturday evening of the 2nd month after your application is prioritized contingent on receipt of results from our 3rd party feasibility test. Blood platelet counts must *still* be above 350,000 per μl³. Based on the statistically 3D-matrixed strata of your application, responses, and interviews of your 3rd thru 5th year primary education teachers, can we accurately determine if you’d be up to the tasks.

To help streamline the process, please provide a link to your Youtube Channel with no less than 3 videos, each at least 5 minutes in length, detailing your contortion abilities. Oh, and to remain in compliance with EOE laws, we’re seeking more female contributors.

Thanks and Good luck!

NIck (profile) says:

Hey Mikey, don’t get all Seth Godin/Cluetrain Manifesto on us! I go to other blogs for that! j/k.

Wierd Harold, I am one of Mike’s experts, and I have been out of school for 10 years. Insights from young people are exactly what we need. When was the last time someone over 35 came up with an innovative business model in the past 15 years? It is college kids in their dorm that started Facebook and Google. It is precisely because young people do not have the baggage of having to defend old decisions, they don’t have people telling them what is not possible for most of their working life. Schumpeter wrote “On the Concept of Social Value” at age 26.

SRS says:


Rather than a different kind of marketing, what about less marketing?

What I want is to be surprised on quality, approach and price. I want an end to patronising adverts, to misleading illogical surveys, to stupidly inflated claims backed with shoddy goods. I want an end to ‘Infomercials’, ‘Advertorials’, ‘Partnerships’, marketing blogs, and all the tired thinking that goes along with them. Empathy Marketing (and I’m already starting to hate the term) isn’t the answer – it just sounds patronising. I don’t always want to be part of the discussion – I’d like some silence.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:


You are clearly right, but we brought it on ourselves. There was a time when we consumers balanced cost-benefit, and the tradeoff frequently went to benefit.
Then, somehow, we got into an ego-trip on “best price”. To get the absolute best price you cannot indulge in the luxury of balancing benefit (marketing with the consumer); too expensive.
Lately I have noticed a movement toward cost-benefit again; I have friends who have stopped bragging about the price they negotiated, and instead say things like, “cheap; but not what I want”.
With that sort of attitude, balancing cost-benefit makes sense again, and that means emphasizing true marketing.

Anonymous Coward says:

“David Churbuck, who works in marketing at Lenovo, is predicting that marketing is starting to go through a massive change towards what he calls “empathy marketing.” It gets beyond the old “four Ps” of marketing that we were all taught in marketing class, and gets to actually taking the time to actually talk with (not to) your customer — and some of the time that means having the brand shut up and let everyone else do the talking.”

I hope David Churbuck can feel my pain.

This Lenova desktop has had problems since day one – two months ago.

Steven Servis (user link) says:

Right On!

This blog is right on! Marketing is a two-way street, and marketers as of the present are scrambling to find ways to communicate with consumers through twitter, myspace, and facebook to name a few. We’re looking at Web 2.0 here, and we’ve have got to learn how to use it effectively. This means that companies have to come off their high horses and relate to the general public by way of humanizing the company with advertising that is relevant to diversified markets.

Perry (user link) says:

Empathy, for me, is actually one of the best methods of marketing. It is more than just giving what the prospect needs or wants. It is providing him or her a product or a service that will be of value to his or her life. The benefits are long term and can definitely improve his or her quality of living. Empathy marketing must be part of sales management trainings.

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