When Michael Brenner walked into the building at his very first job, he felt like everyone was from a different planet. They would say “We’re going to do this marketing campaign and people are going to love it.” Michael remembered thinking, “I wouldn’t love that…I would hate that.”
Collective amnesia is when you walk into work and just try to please your boss and make the company happy. You forget what it means to just be a person. You forget that you have to create programs, outreach, and communication that people actually want.
Michael points out that we get so in love with the data points and the trends that we lose track of who we are actually marketing to as a person. While data is amazing, there’s a humanity that’s almost lost. Rashad Tobaccowala talks about restoring the soul of business. He also points out that we’ve lost our way because we’re not thinking about who we are marketing to.
Based on my research, when you start putting the person first and foremost and treat them well, it builds trust. It builds that connection. People’s BS meters are so dialed in right now. They can tell when someone is genuine and sincere. You have to remember that with everything you do. A human-centric approach embraces empathy.
The counterintuitive nature of empathy
The more human-centric approaches work. When the coronavirus hit, brands that communicated concern for their own employees generated higher brand awareness and appreciation. They did better than the brands that shared a message from their CEO because—let’s be honest—no one cares who the CEO is.
Michael points out that we think that the driven, difficult, nasty people are the ones that get the job done. But when we look at the data, it’s the human-centric, purpose-driven approaches that win. Jim Stengel did a good job demonstrating that concept in his book Grow.
In the book, Jim separated fortune 500 companies into two groups: a small group that had purpose-driven mission statements and a larger group that had money-driven mission statements. The company’s with the purpose-driven mission statements had 400% higher stock prices than the other companies.
The data shows helpful, purpose-driven, soulful approaches are more effective. That’s the counterintuitive nature of empathy.
Simply be kind.
Michael jokes that the biggest problem he faced writing his book was writing a book that says, “Being kind to others—the thing you learned in preschool—is the best approach to life.” Be nice to people, and you’ll win.
Michael talks extensively about embracing empathy in marketing in episode #24 of the Content Callout podcast. He also shares how to change the perception of marketers, why you should stop running marketing campaigns, and how to make your customers the hero of your brand story. Check it out!