Successful content marketing is about creating a connection between your audience and your brand.
This doesn’t mean just throwing content at them. It means creating content that they truly value—content that serves their needs and addresses their biggest pain points. This type of content is much easier to create when it’s informed and driven by empathy.
As Dr. Brené Brown notes, “Empathy is feeling with people.”
When you put yourself in your audience’s shoes, it becomes easier to acknowledge their struggles and think critically about the best solutions. That’s why empathetic content marketing is such a powerful strategy for both B2B and B2C.
Not sure what that looks like? Let’s walk through nine brands that nail empathetic content marketing in multiple mediums.
Empathetic Content Marketing in Action
1) LUSH (VIDEO)
With the tagline “Fresh, handmade cosmetics,” LUSH is a beauty brand that is all about natural products. As such, we see their radical transparency showcased in their How It’s Made video series, wherein they go behind the scenes of some of their most popular products.
Each episode features actual Lush employees in the “kitchen,” narrating the step-by-step process of how the products are made. Lush visuals(pun intended) showcase just how natural the ingredients are. You see mounds of fresh lemons, tea infusions, and salt swirled together to become the product you know and love. It’s equal parts interesting and educational.
How it shows empathy: Lush’s customers want to buy beauty products that are truly natural. They care about using fresh, organic, and ethically sourced ingredients—hence the videos feature colorful, close-up shots of those organic lemons and sea salt to drive that point home.
Taking customers inside the factory and showing them every part of the process—with a human face—assures them that they can consume these products with peace of mind.
2) LinkedIn (Ebook)
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is all about mobilizing marketers to grow their audience, create more effective content, and, ultimately, achieve their goals. Naturally, they want their audience to leverage LinkedIn to help them achieve those goals. While they produce plenty of content related to the benefits of LinkedIn, the team has made a significant push into content that educates all levels of marketer on a variety of topics (as you can see on their blog).
This 27-page ebook, Native Advertising: What It Is. How to Do It, provides a ton of information on all aspects of native advertising, which is one of LinkedIn’s enterprise marketing services. It’s packed with tips, stats, deep dives into the various types of native ads, strategy, as well as the benefits of LinkedIn’s various native ad services.
How it shows empathy: One immensely effective empathy marketing tactic is education. LinkedIn wants to empower their audience to do their jobs better (and use their product to do so), and this ebook is the single tool they need to understand and confidently use native ads to their advantage.
Through offerings like this, customers learn that they can rely on LinkedIn as a trusted source to guide them in the right direction, and LinkedIn can continue to provide solutions through their product offerings. It’s a win-win all around.
3) Home Depot (Infographic)
Home Depot is a home and garden supply store that caters to all types of builders and DIY-ers, whether you’re a construction worker building a gazebo or a homemaker experimenting with gardening. In other words, their content must cater to various demographics.
As they are all about the DIY, their marketing focuses on what their supplies can help you do—not just what the supplies are. This “Grow a Living Salad Bowl” infographic teaches consumers to grow their own salad, offering information on how to do it, which vegetables grow best, and what supplies they need—all with minimal branding.
How it shows empathy: Home Depot’s customers dream of being skilled DIYers, but they need a bit of help working through the unknown, as well as some encouragement. This infographic delivers both, inspiring customers to take action.
4) Dove (Instagram)
Dove is a beauty brand all about positive self-image, and they’ve done a great job of creating a supportive and loving environment for their fans on social media. Almost all of Dove’s posts on Instagram are about active self-love, and their messages and engagement are tailored to inspire this.
How it shows empathy: Dove’s posts offer customers regular reminders of their worth, as well as ways to actively recognize themselves and other women.
This is not only a good relationship-building tactic employed by Dove; it also provides a real benefit to their audience. A 2013 Carnegie Mellon University study found that positive self-affirmations help you perform better under stress. It’s both a sincere and scientific approach to bring self-love into customers’ everyday lives.
5) Extra (Interactive Site)
We’ve seen just about every twist on gum marketing possible: sexy encounters, romantic trysts, and more. Now Extra is pushing past that narrative.
They realize that gum is an everyday part of life, a seemingly mundane product, but its omnipresence means it’s there for many of life’s little moments. Hence the #givextragetextra campaign is all about celebrating those moments—the awesome fishing trip, the road trip with friends, the engagement—by turning them into art.
The interactive site and social campaign encourages you to submit photos of those everyday moments to be turned into sketches, some of which appear on the inside flap of Extra packaging. At the site, you can submit images, watch video of the artist’s sketches, peruse the gallery, and search to see if your submission has been turned into art.
How it shows empathy: In many ways, gum is a product meant to enhance intimacy, making your breath fresh for more closeness. In our techno-connected world, those everyday moments of intimacy are often overlooked. This campaign helps customers become more aware and celebratory of those moments.
By encouraging them to capture and share those memories—and honoring them through the gum-wrapper art—Extra is helping customers live a more full and present life.
6) Microsoft (Interactive infographic)
Microsoft’s security solutions are all about keeping consumers’ data safe. Their goal, then, is to educate and explain why their products are important. That said, data security is not the sexiest topic—and plenty has been said about it.
To give it a new twist, Microsoft created the Anatomy of a Data Breach interactive site, which explains the issue of data security through a new and exciting lens: the data heist.
The site puts consumers in a hacker’s shoes, guiding them through the stages of a data breach and showing, in detail, exactly how the data is stolen. Coupled with statistics about data security, the messaging is clear.
How it shows empathy: Consumers know data breaches are a problem, but they don’t know exactly how they happen. By making an engaging story and using real consumer survey data, Microsoft brings the problem to life in a genuine and accessible way. Through the interactive, customers truly see their vulnerabilities and better understand how to protect themselves.
7) Michael’s (Blog)
In a world where Pinterest dominates, the craft store Michael’s is making a play to capture its own audience on its own properties. They have long provided the standard craft tutorials and product features on their site, but with The Glue String blog they are inserting themselves into their readers’ lifestyles with a variety of content.
Posts like “12 Ways to Store Washi Tape” may sound a little silly, but for the avid crafter, these are the exact types of posts that are relevant to their lives. The beautiful layout and high-impact visuals only help to bring these stories to life.
How it shows empathy: Crafting is an exciting hobby but not without its own frustrations. Providing useful tips and hacks on how to do things better via a free publication helps readers do more of what they love with fewer headaches. Additionally, fans get to share their enthusiasm through social, helping Michael’s extend its reach while helping their audience share their interests.
8) JetBlue (Video)
JetBlue is a brand known for superb customer service and humor. At this point, we know where they fly, we know their hook, so their marketing needs to extend beyond the services they provide. As such, their content is focusing more on the world of flying and the experiences we all have.
Their Flight Etiquette videos are funny PSAs that spotlight some of the most pervasive problems we encounter while traveling: overzealous flight boarding, chatty seat mates, etc. By giving it the sarcastic “How NOT to” twist, they showcase their humor and brand voice.
How it shows empathy: There are specific instances that make the flying experience suck for all of us. These videos attempt to remedy these troubles by commiserating with and educating the public.
9) J.Crew (Visual How-Tos)
J.Crew is a sophisticated clothing brand that has always marketed toward lifestyle, framing their clothes within that context. While they have a devoted following, they are always searching for ways to better connect with their audience.
Their blog is a fantastic outlet for that. Naturally, as design is a core part of their business, it is a major component of publishing. Its clean design superbly showcases their products, tips, and tricks. And they consistently use on-brand visuals to enhance their content. For example, The Bandana, 4-ways tutorial includes directions, illustrations, clever captions, and actual product visuals to tie it all together.
How it shows empathy: J.Crew customers want their fashion to reflect their personalities. Giving them more options to express themselves through clothing, via different bandana styles, helps them achieve that.
Ready to Try Empathetic Content Marketing?
People want to work with (B2B) or support (B2C) companies that “get them.” To do effective empathetic content marketing, put your audience’s wants, needs, and dreams before your own. Create content that helps solve their problems, enhance their lives, and provide true value. In doing so, you’ll show them that you care about them as humans, first and foremost.
You can always talk about your brand and what you’re peddling once there’s a connection, but if you do content marketing well, people will be drawn to you and you won’t ever have to toot your own horn.
What’s the best example of empathetic marketing you’ve ever seen? Let us know in the comments. And if you’re looking for more content marketing inspiration, find out why brand video is on the rise, learn how interactive infographics can tell your story, and get 16 tips to come up with amazing infographic ideas.
This post originally appeared on HubSpot.