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empathy map in marketing: a path to a deeper understanding of customer needs

To create a popular product, you need to know the consumer well. In this case, the general characteristics of the target audience are not enough - dry numbers and socio-demographic indicators will not give a complete picture of the individual. It is much more important to understand what worries and pleases him, what he strives for and according to what scenario he makes decisions.

This information can be obtained through empathy: in psychology and design, this process is called empathy. It's easy to empathize with someone you know and with whom you have similar experiences. But what if it's a stranger? The correct answer is to develop this skill with the help of special techniques. One of them is the empathy map.

What is an empathy map

The Empathy Map was conceived and developed many years ago by Dave Gray, the founder of XPLANE, the author of the Gamestorming idea generation methodology and books on developing creativity. Today, this tool is actively used in design thinking, the agile approach, and is included in the arsenal of the work of the Stanford School of Design.

The card template consists of seven thematic blocks, each of which focuses on a specific aspect of the consumer's personality. The process of completing them helps to better understand the client's environment, behavior, problems, desires and goals. Thanks to the work done, marketers and creators create qualitatively strong projects and successful business models.

How to prepare

An empathy map is a form of brainstorming. Therefore, in order to work effectively with it, it is important to follow some rules of group work:

- inform in advance

If a client brief is sent out a couple of days before the meeting, the team will have time to get ready for work, immerse themselves in the field and look for insights.

—clearly state the purpose of the project

This way you can make sure that everyone understands the purpose of the project correctly and tunes in to the same working wave.

—take notes of the assault

Attentive recording of the flow of thoughts is a guarantee that you will not miss any useful team ideas.

It is also important to decide where all the information about the consumer will come from. Part of it can be obtained directly from the participants of the assault - the company's specialists who interact with this client. Moreover, the more diverse the composition of the team, the better: what the sales manager knows, the marketer does not know, and the marketer himself is better aware of some issues than the art director.

As additional sources of information about the consumer are often used:

— profiles in social networks;

- discussions on thematic sites, forums;

- authoritative specialized media;

- comments under publications and reviews.

How to fill

To draw up a map, it is necessary to fill in thematic blocks in the order of their numerical sequence. For small workgroups, you can print the template on a sheet of paper, and for large project teams, use a flipchart or whiteboard. If you use this format, then it will be convenient to fix thoughts on colored stickers - they are easy to remove or move to another place.

Set a goal

Mapping work always starts with defining a goal - who we want to build empathy with. To do this, a circle or consumer profile is drawn in the center of the sheet. You can give him a name and fix all the most important personality characteristics. David Gray recommends detailing the target as much as possible, giving it character traits, emotions, or even typical speech expressions. This makes it easier and more efficient to project the character's experience onto yourself.

Outer Blocks

After the goal is defined, we start filling in the outer blocks - they describe in detail what environment our consumer is in and how it affects him. They are divided into four groups:

- "What he sees". Describes the environment of the target. His social circle, opinion leaders, main sources of information and communication channels. Think about whose point of view he listens with particular eagerness, and whose point of view he can easily reject? What programs, books, or even social media groups determine his attitude towards the product?

- "What he says". We study what we heard from his own speech, on a topic that concerns us. What does he say or would say about our product? What words does he use most often and how does he express his position? In this block, a big role is played by how well we have worked forums and comments as sources of information.

- "What does". At this stage, we fix the specific actions of the consumer: what he did before, he does now, and most likely he will do in the future. For example, if we are promoting a new pet food, it is important for us to understand how the target is used to buying this product - online or offline, once a week or once a month, in excess or in small quantities. By the way, does he use promo codes to buy from the mailing list?

- "What he hears". We determine what information on the topic of interest to us, the consumer receives from others. What do relatives, friends, colleagues tell him about this? What is being said about it on social networks, on television and radio? What rumors are he getting? What is he more likely to listen to?

Internal blocks

At this stage, we need to analyze what thoughts and feelings influence consumer behavior. In total, there are two internal blocks in the empathy map: “pains” and “benefits”.

—"Pain" Describes the environment of the target. His social circle, opinion leaders, main sources of information and communication channels. Think about whose point of view he listens with particular eagerness, and whose point of view he can easily reject? What programs, books, or even social media groups determine his attitude towards the product?

—"Benefits" The desires, needs, hopes and dreams of our character. Here we enter data on how he achieves his goals and what he experiences while doing it, what makes him happy every day and how he measures his success.

While the outer blocks represent the consumer's world around him and his experience, the inner ones allow you to penetrate into his inner world and better understand his psychology.

Summary

An empathy map is an effective tool for immersing yourself in the client's world. The already completed map can be consulted each time to understand or test the consumer's point of view regarding different aspects of the product or service. Another obvious plus of this exercise is time saving. If you do not take into account the preparation time, most often the teams manage to complete the map in 1-2 hours. By regularly updating information from the right sources and collecting mini-assaults, you will keep your map relevant and useful.

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