Balance empathy and info with KW2’s Two Journeys exercise

You are not your audience. It’s a core tenet of marketing research and user experience strategy, a truth so clear and simple, it seems obvious. But when you’re an empathetic marketer or a government or public health communicator with years of community involvement under your belt, that truth can be easy to lose sight of. Read on to see how KW2 approaches this and also get our downloadable worksheet to help your marketing team develop your own approach to put yourself as close to your audience as possible.

Working closely with the people you serve can help organizations build invaluable connections and stay focused on audience needs. Over time, it can also make us too comfortable with the issues and individuals we serve, resulting in something called the false-consensus effect. If you’ve ever “just been sure” how someone else will behave or react, you’ve felt it. It’s what happens when our empathy slips the leash, and we start making assumptions based on our own reactions and what we think we know about the audience’s experiences, behaviors and beliefs. 

At KW2, we know the most successful campaigns are about the people we’re talking to, not just what we’re talking about. It takes an enormous amount of empathy, woven into every stage of our strategic and creative processes, to develop campaigns like that. But we don’t let it go unchecked. To be effective, empathy must be balanced by research. That’s why we offer our clients an array of custom qualitative tools to help keep us all honest: surveys and message testing, key informant interviews, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee reviews, user experience testing, and more.

Downloading our Two Journeys empathy exercise is a good place to start. It’s one simple worksheet that can help teams better understand an audience’s worldview in four fast steps—while highlighting the behaviors, experiences, and beliefs that separate you from (and connect you to) the people you serve. In about 20 minutes, you’ll learn to:

  • Draft a focused mini-persona
  • Recognize your audience assumptions
  • Compare opportunities and challenges at 3 key stages of the behavior change funnel
  • Identify knowledge gaps and potential research goals
  • Find inspiration for relevant, relatable communications

Want to learn more? Talk to me, Jen. And check out our work reducing HIV stigma and strengthening Wisconsin families to see what happens when a campaign is driven by empathy and grounded in solid research. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the free worksheet and guide to get you started on your own empathy journey.