Artificial intelligence can bring marketing and sales closer together

In a 2014 New York Times article, Sam Tanenhaus argued that millennials were ‘Generation Nice’. He pointed to shopping habits (millennials prefer chemical-free goods and ‘disposable’ clothing) and food choices (vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free eating has become increasingly popular). He concluded that ‘these habits and tastes look less like narcissism than communalism. Its highest value isn’t self-promotion, but empathy.’ Whatever you think of this view, there’s no doubt that with the rise of millennials, the role of empathy in different areas of day-to-day life is receiving renewed attention. Marketing is no different—but empathy in marketing isn’t a nice-to-have or just another string to your bow. It’s the most underrated weapon in the marketer’s arsenal. For marketers, empathy has a direct impact on quality of work. To know your target consumers, as well as your competition in the market, you need empathy. Strong relationships, brand loyalty, and storytelling that resonates with consumers requires empathy. Jim Shearer of Molson Coors compares good marketers to ‘method actors… they just completely immerse themselves in their brands.’

The Global Empathy Index released by HBR consistently shows that the most empathetic companies are also among the most commercially successful

Yet tech can present a problem for digital marketers as it can present a problem for all those working in digital. Though undoubtedly having a huge net benefit to marketers, enabling new practices, intelligence-gathering and access to a far larger pool of people, technology has a well-documented ‘empathy gap’ that is a major reason for the burgeoning ‘techlash’. There is always a temptation for digital businesses to commodify consumers, and advanced data-gathering tools encourage an understanding of individual people as ‘units’. But those who work in digital fields must resist this trend, and in marketing there is a very real business reason to do so.

Wrapping Up

But almost any marketing business can develop greater empathy. And it begins by making a deliberate effort always to act in an ethical way and by cultivating a relationship with the ‘faceless consumer’. Do this, and more engaging stories, more effective campaigns, and deeper loyalty between employee and employer, brand and brand, and brand and customer might just follow.

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