3 Ways to Improve Your Marketing Using Listening and Empathy

Most people operate under the idea that life should be easy.

That’s great, when we’re talking about cooking or fixing your car.

It’s not so useful when we are talking about how to connect with other people, so you can help them change their lives for the better, in deep, powerful, and permanent ways.

So instead, most marketing teachers tell you to poke at people’s pain or promise a fantasy life of being crazy rich and buying stuff.

Because having more expensive stuff around you, or in your self-storage unit, proves that your ship has really come in, right?

As a professional copywriter who has written profitable online marketing campaigns for 8 years, I won’t be the first to say that the tools of listening, being in relationship with people, and empathy are required for any coach, consultant, or healer who wants their marketing to align with their paid work.

But I may be the first to tell you how to actually do it:

1.    Write down the phrases your clients say to you, that you notice coming up again and again. Effective marketing is actually really about becoming a better listener. And also becoming someone who sees that part of her job is to listen for the common challenges, desires, and dreams of the conversation she’s having with her clientele. Get in the habit of noticing when a theme or question comes up several times over the week. What are you talking to clients about? What specific issue are many of them working on? Write these phrases down. And if you aren’t accustomed to listening like this, cut yourself some slack and practice! I’ve had clients write headlines and fix my marketing for me, just because I asked them for feedback and suggestions. Pro tip: show your marketing to your clients while you’re working on it, and ask them how to make it better!

2.    Be generous in your framing of your prospective clients’ problem. The old way of marketing sets up a dysfunctional power dynamic of the buyer being a ‘damsel in distress’ and the coach, healer, or consultant being the hero. News flash: none of us are here to save anybody.  We’re here to help people who are ripe for it to save themselves. Adopt this attitude as your starting point, and you ‘level up’ the sorts of people who want to work with you. Why? Because you aren’t insulting them to their faces with your you’re-struggling-and-I-will-stop-it-if-you-pay-me story. News flash: not only is this predatory, it also sets you up to attract people with a victim mentality, who haven’t yet learned how to take 100% responsibility for themselves and do the work. Instead, write marketing that reminds your prospective clientele of their own power and resilience. (I teach my clients how to see the ‘hero story’ that their favorite customers are on – this is a great way to dive in and gain fresh perspective about WHO your ideal clients are – and gain clarity about what they want from you).

3.    Do a deep dive on your ‘who’. At the end of the day, marketing is nothing more than a story you tell the world. Most people’s marketing is bad because they hurry through it, and don’t give much thought to their audience (read: prospective clients). They try to do marketing before they stop and decide who they want to work with. This is a horrible mistake! And it is totally avoidable, if you stop and ask yourself, ‘who is my favorite client? What do I love about working with him or her? Why did this person come to work with me? What characteristics or values does this person have?’… and then make the bold decision that you will keep your standards high and not let people who don’t measure up into working with you.  (I know this may feel like a punch in the gut, but it’s true, darling. Even if you can’t afford to do that right now, start moving in that direction. Life is too short to work with clients who don’t deeply value what you bring to their lives).

Above all, trust the process of discovery. It really is more about curiosity and experimentation then following some formula.

And? I’ve also found that it helps to be in conversation with other people who are working on improving their marketing and sales, too. If you haven’t found a group of people like that yet, consider joining me for the Beaver Business Club: http://www.beaverbusinessclub.com/  That’s where I hang out with colleagues and allies and we keep this conversation going throughout the year.

Stella Orange teaches her clients how to effectively market their business by telling a better story in their marketing— the story of the hero answering the call to more. A professional copywriter whose writing has generated millions of dollars in sales, Stella knows that the story we tell in our marketing matters a whole lot, because on a fundamental level, it shapes how people think about themselves and what’s even possible for them. Three times a month, Stella hosts a 90-minute Shut Up And Write session via videoconference for members of her Write Club community. She is based in Buffalo, New York, where she lives with her husband, the Philosopher, and their dog, Chachi. Get a copy of Stella’s position paper The New Marketing: How to Create Clients Without Feeling Gross, Icky or Manipulative at www.stellaorange.com/newmarketing.

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