Entrepreneur Media’s Advice for Using Empathy Maps to Tell Better Stories



At #SMWNYC, Terry Rice (Entrepreneur Media) shared a five-step approach on how to use empathy maps to inform stories that will highlight your brand as the go-to option for your audience.


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Focus on being ‘data-informed, rather than data-driven’ advises Terry Rice, Digital Marketing Expert-in-Residence for Entrepreneur Media. While data can tell you who is buying your product or service, it usually can’t tell you why they choose to do so. Social listening can help.

At #SMWNYC, Rice shared a five-step approach, taken from design thinking, to understand why people buy your products or services, and how to use empathy maps to inform stories that will highlight your brand as the go-to option for your audience.

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“We all want to be part of a good story,” he said.

To get that thumb stopping moment, to make people want to engage with our content, we need to tell stories that consumers want to be a part of, explained Rice. There are no hacks, there are simple principles that can help us get better results.

Here’s the five-step approach:

  1. Empathize
  2. Define
  3. Ideate
  4. Prototype
  5. Test

Taking time to fully understand your audiences is critical. Defining the scope of the problem helps understand why they are buying our products and services. In turn, this understanding helps us ideate the content we can create. We launch that content and then make adjustments.

Go back to the beginning

While using this approach Rice suggests that marketers need to go back to the beginning more often and create empathy maps; to dig deeper than personas and learn what audience are thinking, saying and doing. Also to understand the pains and gains associated with buying your product/service.

Unpack the questions and look for themes

Social listening, surveys, focus groups, sales and customer service teams – are all part of the empathy map toolkit. By unpacking the questions being asked via social media, exploring them via surveys and focus groups, by asking sales team and customer service colleagues for case studies and feedback – positive and negative – themes will begin to emerge. Then, you can create stories around the themes.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care,” Rice stated.

Storytelling is the way that you can show people (your audience) how much you care. Stories that show empathy build trust and when people trust you and know you understand their problem, they will also know that you can solve it for them.

Don’t forget social proof

As a final reminder, Rice highlighted that your business cannot be the only one telling the story. Marketers shouldn’t forget to include social proof within stories, for example via user-generated content.

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