Marketing has come a long way from the days of shocking slogans and flashy ads doing the most to capture a potential customer’s attention. Today’s customers are more savvy, more informed, and more eager for authentic connection than ever before. And in order to truly connect with them, marketers need to tap into something deeper: emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence — also known as emotional quotient (EQ) — is the ability to identify, understand, and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. It’s a skill that’s becoming increasingly important in the world of marketing, where customers are looking for brands that truly understand them, resonate with them on a personal level, and offer solutions that align with their values and beliefs.

So, how can marketers leverage emotional intelligence in their efforts to create human-centric marketing campaigns? Let’s get into it:

1. Listen to your customers

We’re not just talking about collecting data and metrics, although that’s a good start. Once you have that info, you then need to take the time to understand what drives it by collecting true insight into your customers: their behavior, what motivates them, and what their pain points are.

You can do this via a variety of methods, including:

  • Surveys and polls
  • Tracking customer behavior on your website, social channels, and other touchpoints
  • Collect honest customer feedback
  • Conduct market research
  • Use social listening

By actively listening to your customers, you can gain insights into their needs and desires, and tailor your marketing messages to speak directly to them. This not only helps you build stronger relationships with your customers, but it also helps you stand out from the competition by offering a more personalized experience.

See it in action: Netflix

The ubiquitous media company isn’t just a streaming giant — it’s also wildly successful on social media. Netflix not only uses social media to share promote its content and share funny memes; the platform actually collects information to find out which shows and movies its audience cares about, learns how these titles are being discussed, and even develops new ways to meet users’ needs — like its award-winning campaign for Netflix Socks. As Netflix put it in its Shorty Awards entry, “When we aren’t posting, we’re listening, looking for the new trends igniting the entertainment world.”

2. Empathy is a natural human trait — use it to connect with your audience

Empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence, and it’s also a powerful tool for connecting with your audience. By putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, you can gain a better understanding of their experiences, and create marketing messages that speak directly to their emotions.

See it in action: BetterHelp

BetterHelp, an online mental health platform, has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, with more than 2.5 million users receiving service from the company. Some of the success is to be expected, with the pandemic skyrocketing the need for telehealth across the globe. But even as more people return to “normal,” BetterHelp continues to thrive, largely due to its real-talk approach to mental health and therapy. At every touchpoint, BetterHelp communicates openly about the various reasons someone might seek mental health support, helping its audience see the immediate use case and immediately connect with the brand on a personal level.

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3. Build trust through authenticity

In order to create human-centric marketing, it’s essential to build trust with your audience. And one of the best ways to do that is by being authentic and transparent in your messaging.

Customers are increasingly wary of brands that use overly salesy or manipulative tactics to try and win them over. By being open and honest with your customers, you can build trust and loyalty, and create a stronger connection that goes beyond just the products or services you offer.

See it in action: Liquid Death
There is no one out here doing it like Liquid Death. The water company lives and breathes its ethos — a unique and wildly entertaining hybrid of badass environmentalist — with its tongue-in-cheek honesty and recycling-friendly aluminum packaging. There’s no question about who Liquid Death is, or who it’s for, and for that reason, the punk-meets-poetry water brand has a loyal legion of fans.

4. Use storytelling to create emotional connections

One of the most powerful ways to create human-centric marketing is through the use of storytelling. By telling stories that tap into your audience’s emotions, you can create a connection that goes beyond just the product or service you’re selling.

See it in action: Lush Cosmetics
Everyone’s favorite stop in the mall is absolutely crushing its pivot to digital-first sales. The beauty brand continues to emphasize its “fresh, handmade” origins at every touchpoint — even down to its individual product packaging: Every Lush item includes a sticker with an avatar of the person who made the product, along with their first name. By highlighting the artisans who turn their products into a reality, Lush creates an emotional connection with its audience and helps them see the human impact of their purchasing decisions.

The bottom line

Emotional intelligence is a crucial tool for marketers to create human-centric marketing campaigns that truly resonate with their audience. By incorporating empathy, authenticity, storytelling, and active listening, marketers can create messaging that speaks directly to their audience’s emotions and builds a stronger connection with them.

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About the Author: Jenny Farias

Meet Jenny — the founder and brand-alchemist-at-large here at BxH. She's an award-winning marketer and speaker dedicated to helping founders turn their unicorn dreams into reality. When she's not crushing it at work, you can find her jet-setting across the globe, supporting fellow female founders (hello, gWen!), or hitting up Charlotte's vibrant entrepreneurial scene with her boyfriend, Ben (#BenTheGem). Wherever she goes, Jenny brings her infectious energy and can-do attitude to the table — preferably alongside a spicy margarita.

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