Empathetic Marketing Lessons Learned From My Scythe-Wielding Days

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Tales from the Online Marketing Crypt – Vol. 6

How to Set Yourself Apart as a Business Leader in Today’s Economy

My Dad was, and still is, a practical man. Growing up, he would often give me odd jobs to do on the farm that seemed quite unrealistic to achieve-at least to my 10-year-old self!

He didn’t give me these jobs to toughen me up or help build character. Nope. They needed to be done. I was available. Tag, I was it to do them.

One summer our lawn mower broke down and the front lawn grass was getting long. In Dad’s infinite wisdom, he put me to task by delegating me to “cut” the lawn.

With a hand scythe.

Being the dutiful daughter that I was and trying to hide the incredulous look I desperately wanted to give him, I took this curved monstrosity from his hands and got to work.

It didn’t go so well.

By the time my Dad got home from work, my left hand was full of nicks and cuts from the blade. It was not a pretty sight and I was pissed.

While standing at the sink getting all cleaned up, he asked what happened. I told him what seemed to be pretty obvious to me: that the scythe was heavy and the grass too short, leaving little room for error while slicing through the blades.

His response?

“Well, be more careful next time.”

Like I said, he was a practical man.

I remember feeling utter despair at the complete lack of compassion that I was receiving.

Where was the empathy? Where was the concern for my well-being?

I’m sure it was there; he just missed the part of expressing it to me and sent me back out to the front lawn in the morning.

I wonder if you’ve ever been in a situation as a consumer where you were expecting more compassion and less practicality?

Think about how you felt. Angry. Frustrated. Not heard.

Now turn that around and think about a situation as a business owner where a client or customer has come to you with a problem, concern or complaint.

Did you respond with compassion, or practicality?

Even though my story happened when I was 10, it doesn’t matter what age or year it is. Everyone wants to be heard, understood and treated as if they matter.

So when it comes to your marketing message, does it need to be tweaked so your audience knows you are empathetic to their needs?

They don’t care about you needing the sale.

What they need is for you to understand what they are going through and that you care.

This is what will create a long-term, sustainable business. Not the hyped-up, in-your-face style of marketing that we are so over now.

Not the “ignore and placate” tactics many service-based businesses use when it comes to addressing their client’s needs.

I know in my industry this is a rampant problem.

I have lost count of how many new clients come to me feeling beyond frustrated their web or marketing person ghosted them. Vanished. Didn’t reply to emails (or if they did, it was weeks later), didn’t answer their phone or completely dismissed and disregarded their urgent needs.

They were so glad they found me because we immediately helped them and continued to respond quickly to their every need.

As for my scythe-wielding efforts, my Dad did eventually tell me to stop with the grass-cutting efforts and fixed the mower. At the rate I was going, it would have been Christmas before I got the lawn done!

But the silver lining: the bunny rabbits got a heap of fresh-cut grass each day that week.

My lesson from this story? Being an empathetic business leader is what will set you apart from many others, just like it has done for me and my business.

By putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, your referral rate will soar through the roof and your business will thrive!

To your business success,



1. Empathy-based marketing isn’t just the right thing to do, your customers expect it. Read 3 Ways to Use Empathetic Content Marketing: The Importance of Empathy-Based Marketing

2. The best way to engage your audience on social media & increase your social media reach is using the empathetic marketing model. Read how: How to Use Empathetic Marketing in Your Social Media Strategy

3. Tap into what your customers want in a website. Read these 3 ways to make your eCommerce site about your customers, not you: 3 Ways to Make a Website for Your Target Market

4. Book: The New Psychology of Selling Sales EQ: How Ultra High Performers Leverage Sales-Specific Emotional Intelligence to Close the Complex Deal

5. Book by Mark W. Schaefer Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins


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