Putting Empathy at the Heart of Content Marketing (Part 2)

By Posted in - ALL & Content Marketing Resources & Content Strategy on February 15th, 2016 0 Comments

Part 2 of 2: advanced empathy mapping and journey planning for your content strategy

In part 1 of this 2-part post, I introduced the empathy mapping exercise as a way of helping to think about how you plan the content that you will create to engage your target audiences.

To recap, empathy mapping is a simple exercise that is designed to put yourself inside the minds of your audience. By considering what they are thinking, feeling, seeing and doing, you gather together ‘trigger points’ that can help you develop content ideas and concepts for your content strategy or content marketing approach that’s aligned to their needs, their questions, their problems and their motivations. When you get this right, you start to crack true content marketing.

The problem, however, with the simple empathy map (pdf) that we shared in the previous post, is that it only takes a snapshot of your audience at a single moment in time. One could argue that it’s an over-simplistic view, albeit a helpful one to get you started. It’s a great starting point to re-shape your thinking about creative content marketing, but how do we take it further and ensure that it delivers a return on investment for your organisation?

In this post, we are therefore going to consider how to take this one step further and start to consider the different stages that your audience may go through in developing their relationship with your company or organisation. We will look at how we can apply the empathy mapping technique over time and in line with purchasing decisions to move a prospective customer towards a sale.

To achieve this, I’ve evolved the original template and instead introduced different stages that a customer may go through in their relationship with you. The stages are loosely aligned to something like the classic marketing funnel.

In this case, I have introduced four stages of “relationship” with your company or product, and where your audiences’ mind may be focused. This time, for our example, we’re going to imagine that your company sells attractive ladies’ shoes.

empathy mapping through the marketing funnel

Stage 1: Other interests or distractions

In this stage, they aren’t thinking about your company or product at all. They may have problems, concerns or distractions that could ultimately lead them to you, but they aren’t specifically looking for you. So, for our shoe-company example, at this stage the customer may be feeling frustrated with their current appearance, or annoyed that they aren’t taller or more elegant (at a mere 5′ 2″, I’m talking from personal experience here!). So, to align to this stage, you may write a blog post that’s something along the lines of “Top 5 ways to make petite women feel more elegant”. Of course, one of those ways just happens to be “Invest in a a new collection of high-heeled shoes”, amongst other non-shoe related tips and advice such as “Get a new haircut”, with useful links to great a great Pinterest board that you’ve created with hair styles to inspire them.

Pinterest board

Stage 2: Common interests or cause

In this stage, they are more aware of the idea that they might want to buy some new shoes in order to make themselves feel more elegant (not least because your last blog post just seeded that idea in their minds, and while they’ve been getting that new hair cut, they’ve started to also think about that new shoe collection…). So, now they’re thinking and feeling things that are more in common with the product that you sell. They may even already be on fashion sites, or starting to search for shoes online, or back looking at those Pinterest boards again. So, at this stage, you’re going to think about writing a blog post along the lines of “The best styles of shoe to make petite women feel taller and more elegant” (make sure that you link to this from your previous blog post too).

Stage 3: Company or offer

Now they’re starting to become aware of your company (that last blog post drew them to your site because it was just so in tune with what they’re thinking right now). Now you can start to think about creating content ideas that are perhaps a little more about your company and your unique selling point. Let’s say, for example, that blog post is going to be something like “3 ways to make sure that the shoes you buy online are a perfect fit”. So, in this post, you’re now providing them with something useful that also shows that you care about fit, and not just the sale. But it seeds the idea of buying the shoes online with the prospective customer. It also links out to the shoe range…

Row of male smart shoes

Photo by Dương Trần Quốc on Unsplash

Stage 4: Product of service

Now you have them on your site, they trust that you care about them and know that you understand them (because your previous blog posts demonstrated that to them). Now, it’s time to sell some shoes. So, here your content focus turns to the product itself. You may have, for example, a showcase collection on your website that is called “Great styles for petite sized ladies” rather than  just expecting them to search by size and colour. Here, your content is helping them to see the style that is right for their need, and may also be accompanied by other products and “related” content that complement this style of shoe or their problem, such as that great blog post that you wrote about how to choose the right belt to break up your outfit and make you look taller. Oh look, now they’ve added a belt to that shopping cart too…

Over to you…

Time to have a go at trying this model of content planning for your company, product, service or cause. To help, we’ve produced two templates that you can download and use:

The circle model, as displayed in this post (above) (pdf)
A handy table for capturing your thoughts at each stage and mapping this out (pdf)

As always, if you need help with this and a little extra creative thinking and planning, then do drop us a line and we’d be happy to discuss how my colleagues and I at Utterly Content can help you. That’s what we’re here for.

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