Understanding How An Empathy Map Can Help You Understand Your Customers

Businesses thrive when those who operate them wake up every day thinking about the customer experience as it related to their interactions with their company.

That drive and ability to remain focused on something so specific is what helps to make a company successful.

These days, getting customers to appreciate the efforts you are making is even more challenging than ever before. 

The Perfect Customer is out there for you, but establishing some way for you to create an "in" with that customer is something you need to work at immediately.

The Empathy Map: A More Complete Way Of Viewing Customers

Watch this quick video!

Most marketers understand at this point that viewing their customers in a segmented way is something that they will likely fall into at some point. 

On the one hand, it makes a lot of sense to break down massive mobs of customers into more clearly defined groups.

After all, a middle-aged woman is likely to respond differently to a particular marketing tactic compared to a twenty-something-year old man.

At the same time, relying too much on overly general stereotypes and demographics is not a very effective way of doing things either.

This is where the Empathy Map can come into play. 

To make your map more useful, you will first need to separate out customers based on how much you would like to serve them or not.

In other words, does it make sense to pursue a particular type of customer if you believe that they are unlikely to purchase items from you going forward?


This is likely not a useful lead to follow, and you would want to cut this person out of your marketing decisions altogether.

Instead, you will want to narrow in on the types of people who seem most enthusiastic about your products or services and see what makes them tick.

You might think of them as the "Perfect Customer", and that is what you are trying to distill down to.

You want to find those people who really are likely to buy from you.

So How Does The Map Work? 

To make your map work for you, it is necessary to put yourself in the shoes of the person you wish to sell to.

This is defiantly going to be harder for some.

You will need to ask yourself some questions about this individual and seek out the answers to get the most complete view of who they really are as a person.

A few of those questions include: 

  • What kind of people does he or she associate with? 
  • What kind of experience excites or disturbs this person? 
  • How does this customer express themselves through their attitudes? 
  • Are there painful experiences that this customer would rather not have touched upon? 
  • How big of a role does emotion play in this person's life? 

These are all major mental questions that require a lot of research and study.

In fact, it may make sense in some cases to compile a panel of people to help you best reach the answers you are looking for to these questions.

You know for a fact that it is a lot better to speak with the potential customers that you intend to interact with rather than just trying to guess what their needs are.

Given that you know this to be the case, why not get a research group together that can best help you figure out how to address the specific needs of your potential customers?

You will want to find people who fit the mold you are looking for, but you also want to make sure they are comfortable talking about their inner thoughts and ideas.

Some people embrace this more than others, but you really need to get to the meat of what they are thinking about, and the best way to make that happen is to specifically talk with people who are open about these topics. 

The Process Can Be Fun 

Watch these two short videos that demonstrate how to populate your empathy maps.

They do a pretty good job of explaining the empathy mapping process:

It likely sounds like a lot of work to create an empathy map that works, and there is no getting around the fact that it certainly can be.

There are so many variables for you to consider, and getting just one or two of them wrong can lead you down a path that is completely incorrect for what you were attempting to accomplish.

Therefore, it probably makes the most sense to try to add some fun to the process whenever possible. 

Many business owners and marketers report that creating these maps has been a fun process for them simply because it allows them to get out of their own minds and into the minds of other people.

Attempting to guess what another person is thinking or how they view the world is a useful exercise for people of all ages.

It makes sense that there are marketing professionals who love to put themselves in the shoes of others and who are not afraid to do so. 

The fun moments come when an insight that you never saw coming lands in your lap.

It is easy to fall back on stereotypes of people and forget that there is a real human being in each and every one of us.

We are complex creatures who do not always fit into our stereotypes perfectly.

Learning that people are a little different than what you had expected is a really insightful thing that can help make you a better marketer than you were before.

You will be asked to readjust your views on entire clusters of the population.

It can be challenging to learn how to do this at first, but the rewards for pulling it off are MASSIVE.

Be Open To Learning Unexpected Things 

One thing that wise marketers understand is that they must be open to the idea that what they think now is not at all accurate compared to the reality of how the world really works.

There is nothing wrong with that, and it can actually prove to be quite insightful. 

Perhaps the most important thing that one can gain from making a map like this is the insight required to understand that there are certain potential targets that they should simply let go.

It might be the case that a particular company has spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to market to people who simply were not all that interested in what they had to offer.

It happens all the time.

And it results in large sums of advertising dollars going out the door when they could have been applied somewhere else more effectively.

That is the disaster scenario that most want to avoid when they get into the business of marketing, and that is why it is important to do exercises such as this.

They are grounding and help remind you of why you got into marketing in the first place. 

Take Any Advantage You Can Get In A Fierce Marketplace

The quality and number of advertisers in the world continues to grow day by day.

This is why every advantage that a person can gain for themselves is something worth looking into.

There is an incredible amount of competition that occurs between different marketers in almost any industry, and it is nice to know that you have some advantages available to you when you take the time to think about what your ideal customer really looks like.

We focus so much on empathy in this piece because it is what can help set you apart from other marketers trying to go after the same slice of the consumer pie.

By focusing on what the customer is really feeling in their heart and soul, you are going to strike a nerve with them that other marketers will not. They will feel a bond or closeness with your brand that they don't with others.

At least, that is the ideal conclusion for any marketing campaign that focuses on first radically understanding its customers. 

It is likely that you are already aware of the amount of competition that you face out there, but you should know that it is still getting more sophisticated.

Algorithms and other IT-related products are helping to generate near perfect pitches for different consumer groups.

If you hope to compete with all of that, you need to be prepared, and you need to have a plan that works.

Thus, you need to take some time right now to start working on mapping out your ideal customer.

Learn from this exercise which targets to spend time on, and which ones you need to abandon right now. 

At the end of the day, your marketing campaign will live or die based on how much it touches the daily life of a consumer.

You can risk it and just go with the traditional pitches you have been using up to this point, or you can decide that you will radically shift the way you look at things and go with a plan that helps reach deep inside the hearts and minds of potential customers all over the planet.

Until Next Time
Karma Cashflow


Below, you can click on the image to download your own copy of an Empathy Map to get started making your own.

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About the Author

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Karma L. Senge has been in advertising, marketing and copywriting for over 20 years. He has built 7 companies into the 7 and 8-figures and loves sharing his knowledge of business, building endless streams of cashflow (passive income), money, productivity, marketing and advertising with others.

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