Sunil Gandhi

Human-Centered — Need for Every Marketer in Down Turn

Yes, two disciplines look distinctly unrelated, but yet Service Design principles can add value to what Content Marketers do. To consider content marketing only as initiatives to satisfy Google algorithm is a very limited view of this powerful means of marketing.

IDEO, the world leader in the Service Design space believes;

“Empathy is the capacity to step into other people’s shoes, to understand their lives, and start to solve problems from their perspectives. Human-centered design is premised on empathy, on the idea that the people you’re designing for are your roadmap to innovative solutions. All you have to do is empathize, understand them, and bring them along with you in the design process.”

Shouldn’t every marketing initiative begin with his premise? Ideally, every entrepreneur should begin their enterprise with this premise.

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft writes in his book Hit Refresh,

“My passion is to put empathy at the center of everything I pursue — from the product we launch, to the employees, customers and partners we work with.”

Content Marketing (CM) should talk with the people they are aiming to influence and not talk to them. Content Marketing is an opportunity to bridge customer experience gaps. An empathy-driven content marketing initiative stands out from the product and enterprise-driven content approach (which everyone does).

Successful content marketing is about creating a connection between your audience and your brand. If it fails in creating this connection, it’s failing in its purpose. Usually, content marketers throw massive amounts of content at their target audience, assuming Google will do its work.

They forget CM is neither about Google nor about their offerings, but it’s about their TA.

Creating content for content marketing means stepping into the show of TA and feeling their pain points, challenges, and aspirations.

Empathy Self Test:

Whether your marketing is about shouting about your products/ services or are you going to solve any problem with your marketing communication with the target audience?

Educating the target audience (TA) about the possible solutions to their problems could be one of the ways to address their issues.

Empathy Examples:

Most people lack the right knowledge about their fitness and diet. This leads to a massive health problem for society at large. If you are a health Insurance Company, educating your TA with the right fitness and diet knowledge could be the problem your marketing could be solving.

Managing money is another area of massive ignorance. If you are a bank, educating about personal financial planning and the dangers of debt could be the problems your marketing could be solving.

This TA focussed approach is possible only if you have empathy for them and your sole goal is not to sale.

Remember: By educating it need not be a boring documentary kind of content. It has to be engaging, and if possible also entertaining.

The movie Taare Zameen Par — for dyslexia problem was educating, engaging and entertaining.

Content for Content Marketing need not be a movie, but elements of engagement and entertainment to the extent possible make it effective.

Handpicked related post: Content Marketing — Are you making documentaries or feature films

Empathy is not to explain the product and services you deal in.

Empathy is not talking about FAB (Features. Advantages, and Benefits) of your product

Empathy is talking about how to address their pain points, how they can cope with the challenges, and how they can pursue their goals.

Usual marketing is about remaining in your own shoes and propagate about your offerings and strength, content marketing is about stepping into the shoes of TA and address their issues.

The crux is well stated in the following extract from the article by Allie Untracht,

“And notice that USAA’s stories aren’t about insurance. They don’t have to be. (And in fact, they shouldn’t be; as I said earlier, nobody wants to read about insurance!) The key is that the stories are real and relatable to the brand’s audience.”

Handpicked related post: This is the Driver of Future Competitive Advantage

Who is Doing Empathy Marketing?

There are companies who have understood the concept of content marketing and they are using it to their advantage by creating awesome empathetic content which is target audience-centric content.

The mission statement of American Family Insurance is, “to inspire, protect, and restore dreams,” Therefore their content strategy is commensurate with the mission statement. Their site is about inspiring people to do things they dream about if their financial obligations are taken care of.

They talk about insurance at

The company is an insurance provider, but the content they create is talking to the people at a personal level. Why would an insurance company care about people’s dream? Why would they invest in a completely new site and lots of content?

This is an example of Empathy. This is an example of content marketing.

Debra Bass, President, Global Marketing Services of Johnson and Johnson says” We have a new vector around empathy and how we think about communities in the digital age. Empathy allows us to ignite a social movement for good.”

Cleveland clinics have Empathy Video series. In addition, they create a huge amount of Content about diet, disease management, and preventive health care. This kind of initiatives and investment is not possible without Empathy.

Content Marketing is a huge opportunity for every marketer. Don’t waste it by making it inside out campaign. It’s about outside in.

Are you empathetic about your marketing? Are you helping target audience solving their problem?

“Don’t think about people as targets of the sale. The question isn’t who can you land, it’s who can you help? “ Michael Stelzner

Service designers use the term Human Centred Service Design when they design new services. For the marketers, it’s time to become human-centered Content Marketers. Empathy is the heart of being human-centered.

“We can’t restrict our efforts to what drives immediate sales leads, because that limits what we can do. Don’t focus on persuading and promoting in order to sell. Rather, think about enabling and empowering experiences.” Experiences, the 7 thera of Marketing.

Want to know more about content marketing? Here is my post: Why is a Vibrant Blog a Mandatory Digital Marketing Asset?

You may also like to read: Why is Your Influence on the Buyers’ Journey Matters?

Originally published at on August 20, 2019.

Author / Blogger / Script Writer