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The conundrum of the human experience is that we are born thinking that we are separate from all others and that our needs come first, however, only by serving others in a valuable way can we survive and achieve true happiness. How we go about serving the greatest number of people in the best possible way is really the goal of inbound marketing.

1. Curiosity

First, we must become insatiably curious about the audience we want to serve. Even though each human’s experience is unique, we must find where similarities and create certain generalities about their needs and goals in order to help them in a scalable way. This kind of segmentation work can (and should) be done using survey research but, if that isn’t possible for some reason, then hopefully through past experience we can develop starting segments that we know to be true. These buyer personas can differ from one company to the next, even if they are targeting the exact same audience.

2. Listening

We then must effectively listen to the feedback we receive from our communications, via direct response and from the analytics we get from our marketing automation software. You can ask people questions directly and offer something of value for their answers, as well as, use response rate analytics, historical, and current sales to measure effectiveness of communications. These can confirm or deny assumptions about the audience, and even find sub-groups that can be targeted in a unique way.

3. Storytelling

Storytelling is a big part of content marketing because it is through exchanging stories that we come to understand and empathize with the experiences of others, and even find parts of ourselves. When developing stories we can follow a well-trodden formula called Freytag’s Pyramid, which is based on an analysis of ancient Greece and Shakespearean drama. According to Freytag, a drama is divided into five parts, or acts, which can be called a “dramatic arc.”

  • Exposition – introduces the setting and back story.
  • Rising action – series of events that builds up to the climax.
  • Climax – turning point where the protagonist’s fate goes from bad to good or good to bad.
  • Falling action – conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist unfolds, with the protagonist winning or losing against the antagonist.
  • Dénouement – derived from the French word desnouer meaning “to untie” and Latin nodus for “knot,” it is the conclusion of the story; the untying of the complexities of a plot where conflicts are resolved, normalcy is created for the characters, or in the case of a tragedy, can end in a catastrophe.

4. Addressing Concerns

Finally, we must use empathy to understand where our customers are coming from and what we can do to alleviate their concerns. The old adage “the customer is always right” isn’t about them being “right” per se, but that you are able to make them feel that their values, beliefs and concerns are valid, even if your goal is to change something about them in order to help them. And that really is the crux of business, isn’t it? If your goal in changing someone’s beliefs and behaviors is only for your benefit then get a new job, because ultimately success in every sense of the word will elude you. But if you really believe that they can benefit from whatever it is you are selling, then you have to present your case in a truly compassionate way.

Anyone can be knowledgeable in their field, but if you fail to show your customer how much you care and understand their needs, the sale and retention of that customer diminishes. What works for one company, won’t always work for another. Because there is no cookie cutter solution, I always empathize with a company’s pain and understand the position they are in. Only then will a customer be confident with our expertise that we can move forward with an action plan. To me, empathy and compassion are the keys to a great customer experience.

Annie Nguyen Inbound Marketing Expert Team

If you want to better empathize and communicate with your customers but don’t know if marketing automation is right for you, click here to read more about it.