The Digital Age has brought us information and technical sophistication, unlike anything we’ve seen since the Industrial Revolution. Data, at large, has been globally democratized through the internet, thus giving us information and resources at a faster speed than ever before. This has allowed us to create technical solutions that solve every issue, from on-demand grocery delivery to monitoring our sleep quality each night.
It’s impossible to escape the idea today that to be successful in business, everything must be “data-driven,” “automated,” and “supported by technology.” Don’t get me wrong—I love having numerous data points easily available to support an argument or strategy, and I heavily rely on numerous tech solutions to run my business and provide the best work possible to our clients. Where would we be as a digital marketing firm if we didn’t have access to the data and tech that is so easily attainable today?
While there are so many pros to working in marketing during this age of information and technology, it’s easy to forget about the importance of emotion. Marketing, at its core, is about appealing to human emotion. Even if you do not work in marketing, humans are always marketing themselves through their beliefs, thoughts and decisions. Sure, pricing, promotion and product placement are helpful for brands, but to truly build, grow and nurture a brand, emotion must be involved.
At my company, our goal is to take an empathetic approach to marketing. We are constantly asking ourselves: How will audiences react to this message? What will it make them feel? Are we inspiring, educating or motivating them to continue their journey with the brand? How can we learn more about their needs, responses and feelings?
Adidas’ recent (and highly talked about) sports bra campaign was an example of taking an empathetic approach to marketing. The company listened to its consumers, identified a need and communicated a solution that elicited a handful of emotional responses: surprise, delight, anger, curiosity, relief—the list goes on.
Marketers often support a variety of different clients who communicate with a variety of different consumers. Improving your emotional intelligence is something you need to constantly strive to accomplish. For my own team, observing, listening, identifying and intentionally communicating is the foundation of our work. We work to improve our emotional intelligence in two ways, and your marketing team can do the same.
1. Conduct regular analysis of consumer reactions to any and all work that you do. Do this, whether it’s a new website launch or influencer TikTok campaign. The biggest challenge is finding ways to understand the data through an empathetic lens by asking yourself, “If we were the consumer, how might this resonate with us?”
2. Find ways to challenge yourself and your teammates to be in constant pursuit of self-improvement. How can you better understand others if you are not working to better understand yourself? During quarterly company meetings, my team, for example, conducts and participates in different workshops to help us clarify our values, purpose, weaknesses and strengths.
It’s easy to get lost in the swirl and pressures of data and technology today. Whenever this happens, I stop and ask myself, “What would Don Draper do?” Think about all the marketing ideas that were showcased in Mad Men pre-big data and technology. But in all seriousness, the best marketing ideas are often the simplest and almost always tap directly into human emotion. Despite the looming metaverse and mass adoption of virtual reality experiences, we are still humans, after all. And what makes us humans? Our emotions.