The power of using empathy in your writing

April 10, 2020

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Strengthen the connection with your client

A big fear for any business is miscommunication. Giving a wrong impression of who you are and what you do can really balls up how well you connect with your target audience, which leads to missed sales.

Getting your message wrong can happen if your copy is stuffed full of jargon, self-absorbed, over-perfected, sounds like your competitors and (the big one) it totally ignores your audience.

In this article, I’m going to give a basic overview of how to make sure your marketing copy acknowledges your audience. I’ve spoken before about fixing this using ‘you’ and ‘your’ in your copy, but we’re going to take it a step further by understanding empathy in writing.

Empathy writing — it’s not about making sure your audience “get you”. It’s showing your audience that you “get them”

As business owners we tend to spend a lot of time focusing on how we present ourselves and worrying that we’re not saying the right things about us. Really, what you should be doing is showing our client — our reader — that we understand them and where they are coming from.

Effective copy talks to a prospective client because it hits on their thoughts, feeling and emotions. It shows empathy, which means recognising someone’s circumstances and feelings. Demonstrating empathy in your writing lets your client see themselves in the story or situation you’re presenting them with, which makes connecting with it much easier. You may recognise empathy writing when you get that feeling of, “Wow. This [website, flyer, email, blog] really speaks to me.”

I think empathy writing is how you show your business is able to listen to what your audience wants and needs. It’s why effective marketing copy is a conversation rather than a company banging on about themselves.

Tangent: As a copywriter, my job is to “get people.” I even say this on my website, “I get you.” But I not only have to “get you” I have to “get your client” as well. Really, when you hire me, that’s who I’m trying to satisfy: your client, rather than you.

How to write with empathy

When I was recently explaining empathy writing to an escort during her free profile review, I said there are two questions your copy should always be trying to answer.  

  1. “Why is my client here?”
  2. “How do my products/services satisfy what they’re looking for?”

Approaching your copy with these questions in mind makes sure you’re always coming at it from your audience’s point of view. Their wants and needs should be your number one priority.

If you can’t answer these questions right away, then dig into some research to better understand them. There are several ways you can get to know your audience better.

  • Collect and read emails clients have sent you
  • Listen back to phone messages
  • Read the reviews they’ve left
  • Check message boards and social media channels your ideal audience engages with
  • Run a survey or interviews with your target audience
  • Watch, read and listen to what they watch, read and listen
  • Find studies, academic papers and surveys.

Basically, immerse yourself in their way of life. If you’re lucky enough to have a business that’s been operating for a few years, you may have plenty of first-hand experience you can draw on.

Once you’ve done your research, go back to those two questions and reframe how those products and services you’re trying to promote, connect with the thoughts, feelings and experiences you’ve discovered about your audience. You can then start to write your copy with empathy.

Examples of empathy writing

This whole post was prompted by a recent escort profile review, so when looking at an example let’s stick with the adult industry.

Imagine you’re an escort offering a girlfriend experience (GFE). You might write something basic such as:

“I offer a girlfriend experience like no other. I’m a great conversationalist and listener.”

By acknowledging your audience’s thoughts and feelings about why they are thinking about booking a GFE, you can transform this into:

“If you’re looking for an evening of companionship, I’m here for you. Rather than a lonely dinner for one, invite me to join you and I promise, after your stressful day of meetings, I’ll make sure work is strictly off the agenda.”

It’s a simple example, but in this we’ve moved from listing some characteristics to weaving them into a situation the client can imagine themselves being in, or even find themselves in at that exact moment.

Empathy writing can be applied to any industry, product or service. As long as you understand your audience.

Here are a couple more examples I’ve made up on the fly.

Great craft beer and food served daily at our pub > At the end of a long day, pull up a barstool and unwind over a local beer and freshly made food.

Cyber security solutions protect your business from hackers > Don’t suffer another attack. Protect valuable business data and information using the latest cyber security solutions.

Hire a copywriter and get better copy > Your messaging is a key part of attracting the right people to your business. If you’re struggling to get it right, hire a professional copywriter.

The first lines are fine(ish) — they’re descriptive enough — but the imagined businesses don’t acknowledge why someone may be searching for these things and their emotional need for them.

Where to start with empathy writing

You know the two questions you need to keep in mind when trying to write with empathy — “Why is my client here?” and “How do my products/services satisfy what they’re looking for?” — and you know how to start researching your audience to better understand them. The next step is knowing how to link what you know about your audience to the products and services your selling.

A practical approach could be to write down all of your business’ key differentiators in one column and then beside them attach which of your audience’s thoughts, feelings and concerns does it help with.

Be responsible with your empathy — only say it if you mean it

Making sure you hear your clients is an important way to connect with them. But as a marketer, you shouldn’t be looking to wrongly exploit what you know.

These are people we’re dealing with. Not dollar signs. Writing with empathy, I believe, shows you give a shit and you shouldn’t abuse that insight you have into your client’s lives. I’ve got a whole article in me about empathy marketing and ethics (coming sometime in the future) but I kind of touch on it in this article about sex shops and responsible marketing.

Got a question about writing with empathy? Leave a reply below or send me a message.

 

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