By Jesse Mullins  |   4th August 22

Ooze Cafe 01-min

Empathy in the Workplace: A Tool for Marketing and Organisational Development

Empathy is one of the most powerful yet underappreciated tools in marketing.

So we’re on the same page, this is dictionary definition = the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Through Empathy Experiments you can get a clear picture of your ideal customer’s routine, their likes and dislikes, and connect on a whole new level. Allowing you to create hyper-personalised marketing campaigns that reverberate with them.

Before you stamp this as mumbo-jumbo (love that saying). Have a read of this process we use at Ooze.

Ooze Empathy Experiments

We use these Empathy Experiments at Ooze to visualise the person we’re targeting in our marketing campaigns. To see the world of that ideal buyer through their eyes.

A team member in the meeting will lead the experiment by verbalising the actions and thoughts of the person we’re visualising.

We’ll visualise the person at different times of the day.

For instance, at the start of their day, or in the lead up to the problem they’re encountering that we’re trying to solve.

Albert Einstein famously used thought experiments for his theories. He turned complex scientific ideas into concrete concepts by imagining real-life scenarios.

One famous thought experiment involved the question ‘What would happen if you chased a beam of light as it moved through space?’, which led to the theory of relativity.

But Einstein isn’t the only great thinker to use this method.

Thought experiments can be traced back to Greek philosophers who wanted to speculate impossible concepts, formulate logical outcomes and change paradigms.

Confronting what you don’t understand and exploring what you don’t know can be very effective. Today, thought experiments are used in different industries and fields for a variety of reasons. Some of include:

  • Challenge prevailing theories or the status quo
  • Forecast a future based on current information
  • Extrapolate on an established fact
  • Examine a past success or failure
  • Generate ideas to solve problems

Mission: Empathise with the Ideal Buyer

A big caveat – this process doesn’t negate the need to consume information about the target audience.

Just like any scientific experiment, empathy experiments need structure to establish the initial scenario and direct the whole process.

So we research the target audience heavily and have a good understanding of them. We identify broad concepts of demographics (age, geolocation, industry, company, position) and narrow down parameters to behaviours (routines, pain points, needs, fears, wants, buying behaviour).

Rather than rely on internal solution hunting, we create a collective connection where we can reflect on the scenario and find varied solutions based on different perspectives.

When we have our data, we practise empathy experiments to answer questions such as:

  • What are they doing in the lead up to encountering a common problem?
  • When is the best time to start a conversation with the target audience?
  • What ads would resonate with the person we want to reach?
  • What keywords does the ideal buyer search?

As marketing scientists, we don’t start from zero.

Since empathy experiments can be used to examine the past, we also use pattern-based thinking to look at previous campaigns and check if we can apply them to the experiment’s scenario. To arrive at the best logical conclusion and ideal solution that will benefit the target audience the most.

Another use – vision visualisation

Empathy experiments are effective whether we want to look at the bigger picture or zoom in on our personal truths. Empathy experiments help us discover more about our true nature.

During a recent Ooze culture workshop, I led the team in an empathy experiment in order to answer the question ‘What do we want to achieve this coming year?’

We all closed our eyes and imagined ourselves 12 months from now. We talked out aloud and what our future selves would be doing. Putting ourselves in that scenario. What do you see? What do you feel?

Needless to say, we came up with pretty good, tangible ideas from that experiment. Firstly, by visualising a desired outcome or end-point. Secondly, by identifying the steps towards that goal.

As you can see, empathy experiments can be used in different ways and deliver various benefits for your team and business.

Tips for Empathy Experiments

  • All participant(s) must have eyes closed, in a distraction free zone. You want to get into an almost meditative state, without the meditation.
  • One person at a time needs to talk out aloud about what the target ideal customer is doing. Talk through the visualisations they are seeing. Detail is important.
  • No more than 5 people in the room, ideally 3. This can vary per group but we found the sweet number to be 3 in a room. It takes away social pressure whilst having an optimum number of thinking brains in the room.
  • A thread of thinking (i.e. the journey the out aloud talker takes) can lead nowhere. That’s fine. The next person can start a new thread, potentially at a new location (i.e. the ideal client’s work, instead of home), or a new time of time.