If you’ve seen me talk about the PHACE talent framework or read my overview post, you know that empathy in marketing is one of the key characteristics I focus on. It’s also something that has emerged in job descriptions as smart hiring managers realize the power of having empathetic employees. The challenging part about empathy, like a lot of soft skills, is the difficulty in quantifying and evaluating it during the interview process. It’s also challenging to develop this within individuals in the work setting. In this post I’m going to dive in a bit and give my personal view of empathy in Marketing, how you can find the right folks, and develop it in employees that may not demonstrate it.
Webster’s simple definition of empathy is “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions; the ability to share someone else’s feelings.” That’s a fine definition but I like an even simpler one:
Why Empathy in Marketing is so Valuable
Developing Empathy in Marketing Teams
There are a few different options to help people put themselves in others shoes — two of my favorites are setting up formalized shadowing programs or temporary job assignments. For instance, at New Relic we instituted a formal Sales Rep Shadowing program, dubbed “Rep Life” where a member of our Customer Lifecycle team recruits a number of sales reps to serve on a roster where folks in Marketing can sign-up and sit with the reps during scheduled times, listening to customer/prospect calls and seeing how reps on the floor follow-up and respond to marketing-sourced leads. That feedback is documented and at the end of each period, the Customer Lifecycle team pulls out the common themes and figures out what Marketing can do to improve the information we provide to Sales, how we alert the reps to different activities, and how we notify them about significant campaigns or marketing activities. It also builds a level of trust and helps to reduce some of the tension between the sales and marketing floor.