Empathy, the capability to share another's emotions and feelings, is a complex ability riddled with missteps. In general, people are not good at it. It takes practice and an openness to different ideas.
All too often I see senior business people rely on a singular statement from a consumer to dictate an important decision. This type of learning and decision-making can be very dangerous. It is prevalent in focus groups where the observers glom onto one person's statements because it matches their own personal worldview of the situation. They are not being empathetic. Subconsciously, or consciously, they are just looking for someone to validate their perspective.
There was a time when many marketers relied solely on focus groups as their way of understanding consumers' emotions. That approach often produced skewed and shortsighted perspectives. A diverse and more meaningful understanding of consumers can be had today.
The group that I give all of my attention to are mothers, and thankfully for you and me, they are expressing themselves in a great variety of ways and in public view online today. They are blogging about everything imaginable, recommending products on Facebook, Tweeting about poor customer service, producing their own videos, creating their own issues groups, and so much more.
Thanks to a host of Internet tools, we can monitor and participate in conversations and take note of the opinions of moms on a continuous basis. Overtime, you begin to pick up on trends, subtle changes and new ideas. Comments, opinions and ideas that are seemingly unrelated can suddenly produce an epiphany and business opportunity.
Four easy ways to get started in keeping up with many moms are as follows:
• Read blogs written by mothers, or better yet subscribe to many with an RSS reader—Google Readeris amazing for this.
• Survey email subscribing mothers regularly—SurveyMonkeyis a wonderful tool.
• Create news alerts for stories about mothers—Google Alertsdoes this best.
• Follow and interact with moms on Twitter—Listoriouscan give you a headstart.
Employing a strategy for keeping up with moms in these ways will ultimately lead you to a deeper understanding of motherhood and how it relates to your business. And along the way, you might even develop broader and stronger empathy skills.
About The Author
Kevin Burke founded Lucid Marketing to help brand marketers create and implement marketing programs that connect with moms and MomsWhoBlog, a news journal about mothers active in social media. Through these endeavors, Kevin has worked with Disney, AOL, eHarmony, Boiron and others to build millions of lasting relationships with their customers. He has spoken at the Marketing to Moms Conference, Parent Publishers of America, KidScreen Summit, Word of Mouth Marketing Association, Association of Interactive Marketers, Association of National Advertisers, Association of Advertising Agencies, and Couture Jewelry Collection. Follow him on Twitter @kb33.