Empathy map serves as the basis to develop practically all content, and can be applies to social media marketing, copywriting and the website creation.

The main idea of the empathy map is to imagine a specific person for whom you’re offering your products or services. When people say something like ‘our clients are men and women between 18 to 50 years old’, it is certainly very far from imagining specific person. If that’s really the case, you’d need to create several empathy maps for several typical clients.

How to create empathy map

There are several templates on how to represent it visually, but in practical sense it consists of two main areas: primary section and conclusions.

Primary section of empathy map

These are the answers to the following questions and they all should be formulated as doing this every day or often, and in regards to your product category or service category:

  • What does a person say?
  • What does this person do?
  • What does this person see or hear?
  • What does this person think or feel?

The first two questions are considered ‘external’ as they can be answered based on observing real clients or recollecting conversations with them, how they behave in shops and such.

The last two questions are considered ‘internal’ as we don’t know what a person sees/hears/thinks/feels. We can ‘imagine’ this based on their behavior, and we can ask them directly in interview, conversation or in marketing survey, but nothing guarantees how truthful such answers would be. However, despite that, it is still very important to attempt to understand the person’s inner stuff because it gives something to work on further (developing content etc).

When you’re finished with answering these 4 questions, you need to attempt to formulate sort of conclusions from these.

Conclusions section of empathy map

  • What does the person want?
  • What is this person afraid of or trying to avoid?

Surely, all these questions should be answered having in mind your offerings to such clients. If a person is afraid of, for example, losing hair, and your business is building websites, it doesn’t give you anything to work with. Consider these questions in relation to ‘building websites’.

When you try to find out answers to these questions, you may elaborate by applying common positive and negative emotions. E.g. ‘what is the person angry about?’ etc.

Positive emotions:

  • Love
  • Happiness
  • Pride
  • Hope
  • Belief
  • Pleasure
  • Compassion

Negative:

  • Hate
  • Sorrow
  • Shame
  • Sadness
  • Fear
  • Anger
  • Guilt

You can ‘appeal’ to such emotions if you’re slowing down on thinking about basic empathy map questions. Start then thinking about ‘what does my client hate?’ (in relation to my product category). You may come to a conclusion that ‘my clients hate when they hire some freelancer and he then disappears without completing their job’. It gives you a very powerful words to say in your advertising – something like – ‘We don’t disappear. Your project will be done.’

Are starting to feel that these questions lead to thinking how you will advertise yourself or what you can say about yourself to your clients?

To make things easier to grasp we will just show you the empathy map for our own typical client. Ok, it’s a ‘text’ it’s not in a form of a map, but still.

Word of caution – creating empathy map ism’t an easy exercise. It is not done in 5 minutes. You will have to come back to it to add something many times, when you hear something new from your clients or see what they do. But it’s worth it!

So, empathy map for our typical client –

His name is Igor, he is 35-45 y.o, married, has 1-2 kids younger than 10. He is comfortably rich person, not having any trouble with money, but not showing it off.

He has his own business, with turnover of about 15 million Euro. His business is mostly offline and b2b. His company has a website which was built fairly long time ago, and generally it is ok, but it doesn’t sell anything. His company is not present in social media.

What does he say? – ‘We need to control the costs’, ‘We need to clearly understand what our expenses bring in return’, ‘I’ve heard about social media but I’m not quite sure how it works’. ‘What social media can give me?’, ‘I know our site is outdated, but I don’t know how exactly make it better’.

What does he do? – Пытается изучить эту тему самостоятельно, разобраться, что такое SMM и что такое хороший сайт. У него не очень получается, и он пытается “пушить” своего маркетолога разобраться с этим и дать ему хоть какой-то проект решения, что делать.

What does he see/hear? – Many of his partners/ acquaintances claim that the future is on the Internet or in social media. Many of his partners are already present on social networks and brag about it. He does not yet understand what it gives them, and they naturally do not confess if they do not get anything. He sees that his marketer is not particularly keen to learn about it. Perhaps his marketer is already overwhelmed with a lot of other things, and he does not want to go out of the usual framework.

What does he feel/think? – He’d like to try, but he doesn’t even know where to start. When he starts reading some websites on the subject, collecting information, he literally drowns in the info. Thousands of terms – massfollowing, Cerebro, responsive websites, semantic core and so on – fall on him. He understands that there is “the whole new world” there, and he will never understand all this even if he wants to. There’s no hope for his marketer, either. One more person could have been hired, but he feels uncomfortable that he can’t even formulate the tasks for him. Go do what? What are the indicators to control him? What is good and what is bad in this activity?

What is he afraid of? – That he’s missing out on opportunities. That his company could make more money, but it’s not doing it. It’s not even a question of personal income, it’s a question of stability – he knows the proverb “to stay where you are, you have to run as fast as you can”, and he’s afraid that he might not maintain the company’s growth rate, which means someone will sooner or later outperform him, win over him, and eventually lead to problems in business. He’s also afraid he’ll be deceived. The Internet is dotted with reviews like someone called in SEO specialists, they did something, a lot of money went off, the result is zero. At least less often now, but still one can hear about social media and sites, when people pay lots of money, and then it turns out that it is necessary to redo everything.

What does he want to get? – Ideally, he’d want someone to run his social media, run his website, and he’d see a significant return on it that far outweighs the cost of that activity. For starters, he would like to get some sort of a slender picture of this world, at least in rough strokes, so he can be told what social media marketing is, what SEO is and so on, how it works, at least in general terms, what are the techniques, what is good and what is bad. Having figured it out, he can solve his tasks internally – like hire someone to do it.

Ок, готово! Хотим еще раз напомнить, что это ГИПОТЕЗА! Если говорит/делает, мы еще можем как-то заполнить по их поведению, то другие вопросы – это всегда во многом догадки. И это нормально. И вы не всегда сделаете что-то с первого раза правильно. Впрочем, если вы давно в бизнесе, то вам это не нужно объяснять.

Okay, it’s done! We’d like to remind you again that this is HYPOTHESIS! If the ‘says/does’ section we can still fill in somehow according to their behavior, other questions are always guesswork in many ways. And that’s okay. And you won’t always do something right the first time. However, if you have been in business for a long time, you’ll know it.O

On the other side, do you feel how many ideas you get when you read such detailed empathy map?

You may start thinking – you need to do some quick training course for such people. You probably could give it away for their subscription.

You may be have now some ideas for the blog that you can publish answering most of such people’s concerns. Such posts can make a great ‘evergreen’ content.

Now, when we feel the motives for these people, we can quite easily draft some ideas for how our advertising could look and start testing it, to see which version wins.

That’s exactly the kind of stuff empathy map is made for. It helps you understand what to do for your specific audience.

Without it, you’ll try to please anyone, and it wouldn’t work.

What to do if I have several typical clients?

You need to prepare separate empathy maps for separate types of customers. It is probably unavoidable if you work for different client types. But it would be a mistake to think that your typical 18 y.o. female customer have same motivations as your 30+ y.o. male customer.

Ok, I guess we’re done here and you now understand what is the empathy map, and will make it for your customer types.