Empathy in Marketing – a Strategy for Highly Sensitive Coaches & Consultants

Would you benefit from infusing empathy into your marketing strategy? 

Maybe you struggle with mainstream marketing advice and buzzphrases, such as:

  • “Find their Pain Points”.
  • “Find your target market and niche”.
  • “Generate more leads”.
  • “Cold message ten leads every day”.
  • “Create a sales funnel”.
  • “Master your sales pitch”.
  • “Persuade to convert”.
  • “Hone in on the pain points”.
  • “Get more high-ticket clients”.

If your personality conflicts with this advice, you’re not alone. Let’s make our own rules.

I’m a highly sensitive person (HSP) and an entrepreneur who has owned a few marketing businesses. 

It took several years for me to realize; we MUST revisit the rules in this fast-paced, cut-throat business and marketing environment.

Let’s introduce consumer empathy in our marketing strategies. By using empathy in marketing, you and your clients feel good.

This article will help you develop a marketing strategy for highly sensitive people.

Empathy in Marketing - a Strategy for Highly Sensitive People. Sarah Santacroce Smiles whilst Hugging a Chocolate Labrador.

First, What is a Highly Sensitive Person?

Sensory processing sensitivity (SPS) is a unique part of your personality that makes you more sensitive to the world around you. It means you often pause to think in new situations, notice small things others might miss, and use deep thinking to handle challenges. This sensitivity is tied to your strong emotions, both good and bad, which affect how you react to what’s happening in your life. If this is a new term to you, and you think this might apply, I highly recommend you take the HSP Quiz on Elaine Aron’s website. Also read Elaine’s book The Highly Sensitive Person. Finally, you might also enjoy this episode on the Humane Marketing Podacast about Doing Business as a Highly Sensitive Person.

And what is Empathy?

Empathy is a complex and multifaceted concept beyond simply understanding and sharing another person’s feelings. 

When you’re empathetic, you recognize and respond to the emotional needs of others and can communicate and connect with them on a deeper level.

Even if you don’t necessarily agree with someone’s perspectives or actions, you can feel compassion and a sense of connection to them.

Additionally, empathy will allow you to recognize and relate to common humanity.

Empathy is an integral part of human interaction and a key aspect of emotional intelligence. It helps us build and maintain relationships, resolve conflicts, and create a sense of community. 

Crucial for effective communication, problem-solving, and decision-making, empathy is a significant ingredient in the recipe for solid relationships. 

The Current Way People Use Empathy in Marketing

Most current marketing advice and practices do not rely on empathy.

Instead, experts tell us to ‘talk about pain points’ (read this post for a reframe) and ‘twist the knife in the wound’. Not exactly empathic! 

Marketing ‘gurus’ tell us to use

  • Fear.
    ‘Buy this, or you’ll never have a 6-figure business’.
  • Shame.
    ‘Are you still sitting on the couch eating potato chips while your friends are dating? No wonder you’re still single!’ 
  • Manipulation.
    ‘This amazing offer ends tomorrow and will never come back again’.

At best, we’re taught to use ‘sympathy’. 

An example of the use of sympathy is when we point out a problem, blow it out of proportion, make people feel bad about it, and express that we’re sorry about their experience. Then tell them, ‘thankfully, we have the magic wand solution’.

Like when in traditional marketing we’re told to find our client’s ‘pain points’! No thank you! (read this post for a ‘pain point’ synonym’)

Sympathy is not equal to empathy.

Brené Brown explains the difference best: “Empathy fuels connection. Sympathy drives disconnection.

The traditional marketing model does not work for us sensitive types who genuinely care. It makes us uncomfortable and out of alignment with our values and integrity. 

We truly care and don’t feel good tricking people into buying.

So how can we use empathy in our marketing?

Introducing Humane Marketing

Humane Marketing is marketing for the generation who cares, for ourselves, our clients and the planet. Humane Marketing is based on:

  • Empathy
  • Storytelling (right brain)
  • Curiosity (right brain)
  • Pragmatic Data and ‘things that work’ (left brain)

The HSP Brain

Besides the deep processing, I also believe that the HSP right brain is more developed than in non-HSPs. We are more moved by art, beauty, emotion and other awe-inducing events. And that’s exactly what we need for Humane Marketing.

Left-brain tasks:

  1. Mathematics
  2. Accounting
  3. Coding and programming
  4. Critical thinking and problem-solving
  5. Planning and organization
  6. Following instructions and procedures
  7. Detail-oriented tasks
  8. Scientific analysis and experimentation
  9. Language grammar and syntax
  10. Strategic thinking and decision-making based on logic
  11. Memorization of facts and information
  12. Engineering and technical tasks
  13. Compliance and regulatory tasks
  14. Logical reasoning and deduction.

Right-brain tasks:

  1. Creative writing
  2. Artistic expression (painting, drawing, sculpting)
  3. Music composition and appreciation
  4. Visual and spatial perception
  5. Emotional intelligence and empathy
  6. Visualization and imagination
  7. Recognizing patterns and relationships
  8. Non-verbal communication
  9. Intuition and gut feelings
  10. Holistic problem-solving
  11. Innovation and ideation
  12. Mindfulness and meditation
  13. Understanding metaphors and symbolism
  14. Appreciation of aesthetics
  15. Interpreting body language and facial expressions.
Empathy in Marketing

An Empathetic Marketing Strategy That Works – for HSPs

Let’s see how we can say goodbye to fear and manipulation. 

Instead, let’s focus on using more of our right brain to build trust, authenticity and empathy through ethical and empathetic marketing practices.

Empathy – Show Clients You Care

To show people you care, build relationships with your audience by focusing on their needs and well-being.

Here are a few things you could do to show your network you care:

  • Routinely solve minor problems for them by giving away free tips.
  • Update them on highly relevant news. 
  • Create a space for them to learn from you for free.
  • Check in with them regularly.
  • Be vulnerable – maybe your ‘struggle story’ would help them right now.
  • Tell them you empathize with them.
  • Show what you care about in the world today. 
  • Shout about your values and purpose. 

Showing you care creates deeper connections and a loyal customer base.

8 Ways of Using Empathy in Marketing

Number 1 – Be Authentic

Capturing the feeling of authenticity is easier said than done. You need to feel authentic to be authentic. 

So, how do we ‘act authentically’?

The first thing you need to do is take time to learn who YOU are.

Start with these questions:

  • Reflect on your values and beliefs. 
  • Explore your interests and passions.
  • Think deeply about your definition of success.
  • Find out how you’re wired – are you an introvert or an extrovert?
  • Listen to your body.

Read this article on ‘How to Find Your Authentic Self’.

Or go straight to the ‘Marketing Like We’re Human’ book, where I vulnerably share my journey about rumbling with who I am.

Number 2 – Assure Clients You Can Solve Their Problem

How can you make your ideal client aware of your solution without succumbing to scare tactics?

Fortunately, humans have a built-in system that makes this much more straightforward than it sounds.

Have you ever experienced one of the following situations?

  • You are considering buying a new car and have picked out the brand, and suddenly, you see that specific car everywhere. 
  • You’re in a foreign country where you don’t understand the language, but it seems like you keep bumping into fellow English speakers.
  • You’re considering a new haircut, and suddenly, you see dozens of people with that style.

That is a collection of nerves in your brain doing their job – the reticular activating system (RAS) – which takes what you focus on and creates a filter for it.

When it needs to recall something, the RAS sifts through the data and presents only pieces that are relevant to you.

You can activate your clients’ reticular activating system by discussing their problems on your website and in your communications. 

Show you understand their emotions and have experience helping others with similar issues.

Without exaggeration and manipulation, your message will pass your ideal client’s filter and make them pay attention to your message.

Number 3 – Make Your Clients Feel Seen and Heard

Traditional marketing is often disempowering. As HSPs, we want to be great at empowering our ideal clients to make sensible buying decisions. 

We tell them we understand their problem because we have either spent time with a similar problem or have researched it; we understand the anguish. 

As a business owner, your goal is not to convince your clients to buy your solution but to have consumer empathy. The goal is to make them feel heard and seen. They must trust that you want what’s in their best interest.

You might be interested in ‘A Reframe for Customer-Centric Selling‘. 

Empathy in Marketing

Prefer watching me talk about this? Click the image above to see my 20-minute presentation on the HSP Awakening Summit, organized by Jen Corcoran.

Number 4 – Tell Them It’s Not Their Fault

So far, we’ve addressed our ideal client’s problem and expressed that we understand because maybe we have been in a similar situation. 

Empathy now guides us to go further and say, “It’s not your fault.”

Thank you, Dana Wilde, Mindset and Marketing Expert, for that phrase.

Often, clients will come to you ‘with emotional baggage’. They have already been exposed for years to hype marketing, being shamed, and feeling that it’s their fault that they are not successful enough, wealthy enough or wise enough.

It’s your time to shine, HSP.

Use your intuition and feel all that your clients aren’t telling you. I know you ‘feel in the air’. Then simply let them know, ‘It’s not your fault.’.

Become aware of the “whole human” you serve, not just the problem you’re trying to solve. 

Do your best to understand why they have the problem and how you can help solve it gently and holistically. No need to talk about ‘pain points‘!

Number 5 – Build Trust in Marketing

One key way to build trust is by being consistent, transparent, and reliable in all aspects of your marketing efforts.

Maintain a consistent brand image, messaging, and customer experience across all your channels, from website to social media.

  • Design elements. 
  • Messaging.
  • Tone – your emails reflect you, not some stiff professional.
  • Pictures of you, your real authentic self.

By being consistent, the audience trusts that they will have a similar experience regardless of which platform they engage in. 

You reflect your values in all your interactions with integrity.

Trust is built on transparency. Be open and honest about your intentions and truthful in all your communications.

For example, 

  • When you share an affiliate link and will receive a commission, point it out. The books mentioned in this blog post are affiliate links.
  • Share when you mess up. 
  • Don’t overpromise results you can’t guarantee. 

Trust is built on reliability. 

Be dependable in all aspects of your business, including,

  • The quality of services or products. 
  • Meeting deadlines. 
  • Responses to client inquiries promptly and kindly. 
  • Offering quality content even before people buy.

Reliability builds customer trust and shows you can be relied upon to deliver your promises. And that you value your client’s time.

Position yourself as an authority in your field. Be consistent, transparent, and reliable; you’ll create a strong sense of trust with your audience and establish extended relationships.

Number 6 – Create a Sense of Community

Foster loyalty and engagement by creating a sense of community among your clients or members.

Provide opportunities for people to connect and interact with each other through online forums, social media groups, forums or in-person events.

Show that your business is not just about making a profit but also about a common purpose or worldview and being part of a community of people who care about each other. 

Our shared goal in our Humane Marketing Circle community is to bring more empathy and kindness to marketing: we are creating a Humane Marketing Revolution.

Check out if the Humane Marketing Circle is a good fit for you.

I also enjoyed Mark Schaefer’s latest book on community, ‘Belonging to the Brand: Why Community is the Last Great Marketing Strategy’.

Number 7 – Be Socially Responsible

Humane Marketing is marketing for the generation that cares: for ourselves, our clients and the planet. 

Take some social responsibility by showing empathy for our planet and not just exploiting it.

  • Implement sustainable business practices.
  • Reducing waste and emissions. 
  • Use environmentally-friendly materials.
  • Choosing partners who practice sustainability. 
  • Engaging in social responsibility initiatives such as volunteer work and give back to your local community. 

Demonstrate that your business cares about more than making a profit and you are committed to making a positive impact on the community and the planet.

A B-Corporation is a certified socially responsible business; they measure a company’s entire social and environmental impact. 

You can start the process towards a B-Corp certification, no matter how small your business is. 

Certification takes a while, but they expertly guide you through the process – the reduction of your business’s environmental impact starts as soon as you begin.

Number 8 – Recognize and Relate to Our Common Humanity

Ubuntu is a Nguni Bantu term – spoken in southern Africa – meaning “humanity”. The word is sometimes translated as “I am because we are” or “humanity towards others“.

My podcast episode, Find Commonalities with Ubuntu, is an interesting listen as I discuss Ubuntu with Zaynub Parker (Life Coach at The Trust Connection).

Recognize and relate to a common humanity to resonate with people on a deeper emotional level. See the whole human, not just their wallet.

In Humane Marketing, I talk a lot about making your worldview your niche.

Use your worldview to communicate values, experiences, and emotions that are universal to human beings. A vast improvement from focusing on features and benefits of a product or speaking only to a specific ‘target audience’.

One way to do this is to use storytelling in your marketing. 

Share stories that show your values and worldview so potential clients feel included and resonate with you on a deeper level. You will build a stronger emotional connection between you.

The Humane Marketing podcast episode on ‘Finding Your Core Story and Your Superpowers’ will be helpful to share your stories in your empathetic marketing strategy. 

The Wrap-up for Empathy in Marketing

“Different” would be the word I used if I had to summarize my 15 years of business experience as a highly sensitive person. 

Back at the beginning, out of fear of being different or being rejected, I changed who I was and tried to be like everyone else in order to fit in.

I wore a mask.

With that mask on, I was adaptable and blindly followed the advice of all the big marketing gurus out there. 

I did everything they told me to do – funnels, webinars, big launches, and Facebook advertising.

The protection and safety of hiding behind my mask kept me going. Without that mask, I was completely lost – I would feel a deep existential anxiety. The feeling gave me hot flashes, knots in my stomach, and it kept me up at night.

You may have guessed – and I’m happy to say – that I eventually took the mask off!

Wholeheartedly, I stepped into my true self, the sensitive human that I am. 

Using empathy in our marketing is the strategy that works for us highly sensitive people. 

And now, I call it Humane Marketing.

Thank you so much for reading this really long post.

If you’d like to get the key points in a pdf, please click the button below. No opt-in.

Other Humane Marketing resources you might find valuable:

  • Blog post: Humane Marketing Words We Love: This blog post discusses the importance of using language that reflects values like kindness, love, and empathy in marketing. It provides examples of how to incorporate these concepts into your marketing efforts​
  • Blog post: Empathy in Sales: This article delves into the role of empathy in sales, discussing active listening, understanding clients’ needs, and the difference between empathy and perspective-taking. It provides practical tips for empathetically engaging with clients during sales processes​
  • Blog post: 7Ps of Marketing – Improved for Heart-Centered Marketers: This article offers a revised version of the traditional 7Ps of Marketing, tailored for heart-centered marketers. It includes questions and guidelines that can help integrate empathy and authenticity into various aspects of marketing
  • Podcast episode: Being an Empath in Business: This podcast episode explores the unique challenges and strengths of being an empath in business. It covers topics like the importance of inner work, fear of rejection, and working smart, all relevant to incorporating empathy in marketing strategies
  • Book:  Belonging to the Brand: Why Community is the Last Great Marketing Strategy by Mark Schaefer
  • Community: The Humane Marketing Circle. our community of heart-centered marketers, many of them are highly sensitive people.

The 7Ps of Humane Marketing

Humane Marketing 7ps

Get the Fill In the Blank
One-Page Marketing Plan

Your contact information is safe, and will not be used in ways
other than stated on this page. 

The 7Ps of Humane Marketing

Get the Fill In the Blank One-Page Marketing Plan

Humane Marketing 7ps

Your contact information is safe, and will not be used in ways
other than stated on this page.