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Imaginative Empathy, the Lost (P)art of Marketing / Rene Huey-Lipton

Rene Huey-Lipton, SVP at BrainJuicer®, North America, discusses the importance of empathy

Via The Marketing Society Blog

Asked to write a blog post, I found myself in a head space well known to anyone who has to articulate ideas for a living.

After a few drafts, the idea I wanted to write about just wasn’t happening for me. I’d finish it, and then leave it over night to read afresh in the morning, thinking a bit of distance would help. But the next morning, I’d read it and cringe…the meaning wasn’t coming through the way I wanted it to.

Basically, I was over-thinking the writing and under appreciating the idea. So I’d fiddle. And then fiddle some more. And though painfully aware that my co-worker was anxiously awaiting the draft, I was undeniably stuck.

“Twelve Steps of a Compassionate Life

At the same time I was working my way through “Twelve Steps of a Compassionate Life” by Karen Armstrong and “The Journal of Best Practices” by David Finch.  Both speak to the idea of compassion albeit in different ways.

The first is a wonderfully illustrative, yet easy-to-read view on how to cultivate and act upon the compassion that is built into our core human-ness. The second is a very smart, flat-out-funny look at what the book description calls that moment in every marriage when a wife finds herself asking, “What the @#!% is wrong with my husband?!

For the very brave David Finch and his wife, it turns out he has Asperger Syndrome, and in this book he bares all while detailing his quest to overcome the quirks and compulsions inherent in his life in order to become a better husband.

So let’s take a breather right now. I want you to step back and think about these two paragraphs. How many ‘empathy’ points do you see? I see three.

  • Anyone who has to write anything can understand where I was coming from in the first paragraph – sometimes it just doesn’t come. You can feel my frustration, because it’s been yours as well.
  • We’ve all felt compassion or empathy for a friend, a family member, a homeless person outside your car window – but we don’t always know what to do in that moment, or over the long term.
  • And, we’ve all been the “unbetter half” who get their clothes to the general vicinity of the hamper, space out and walk away in the middle of a conversation or who never make themselves available to our other half so they could simply vent about their day.

Most people stop here – at the moment of seeing the empathy point. We see and say, “Aha, I get it. I can empathize.”  We think the act of having empathy is as far as we need to go. And this is because traditional marketing in general – including and especially market research – prioritizes the rationality of System 2 thinking over the emotionality of System 1 thinking.


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