Compassion: A Key Ingredient To Marketing's Secret Sauce

Not long ago I was invited to consider the use of compassion in the marketing world. My first thought was that compassion and marketing are words that are aren't often used in the same sentence, let alone as a dimension of strategy. The more I think about it, the more I consider that to be an unfortunate shame.

Compassion model

The way I see it, compassion has become a key ingredient in the secret sauce that enriches the flavor of truly great marketing. Compassion is certainly a key component of great content, and great content has become the currency of valued and lasting relationships. As social engagement has flourished and virtual communities have formed in newly familiar places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,and Pinterest, compassion and empathy have become important communication planks in the implementation of social marketing strategy. Marketers are remembering the required fundamentals for making sustainable human connections - selfless, inspiring and compassionate acts that connect brands with consumers. It's an early step in the development of sustainable relationships that begins with brand awareness and matures over time through stages of consideration, selection, renewal, referral, and advocacy.


Executives who have put customer intimacy at the forefront of their business model understand the importance of carefully and consistently listening to the voice of the customer. They encourage and enable their organizations to be affected by what they hear and responsive in ways that truly engage with the consumer. Marketing messages from relationship driven companies - content that reflects human characteristics - will be more fully and effectively received, understood, valued, utilized, and shared. It's a cycle of communication that builds momentum and touches more and more people with every rotation. 

When it comes to the quality of a brands reputation, today's consumers are most heavily influenced by what they hear from friends, family - even online strangers they've never met. Smart marketers know that embracing the voice of the customer - criticisms and compliments alike - will help them to create rich and long-lasting relationships... as long as their actions and words are genuine and authentic.

Thank you plus

"Thank you" and "we're sorry" are two simple and powerful phrases reflecting compassion and empathy when used in response to a difficult and disappointing consumer feedback.

"Thank you for bringing your disappointment with our product or service to our attention. Your experience isn't one that we can be proud of and we'd like the opportunity to make it right. We're sorry for letting you down."

Imagine the positive impact that message would have. Consider the number of times it will be seen? The number or times it would be shared, liked, and talked about. 

An understanding and empathetic response has impact because it feels human. It’s shared because it shows compassion and is more than a defensive response from a faceless corporation.

Those are the types of words and actions that will be demanded by today’s new community of consumers. It will be the language of the compassionate marketer. It's the secret sauce we marketers - we business leaders - should be using much more frequently.

Add A New Comment

  • Jeris Miller
    Jan. 22, 2013
    Excellent article Rod! #ImmersiveEngagement #Compassion

The Fine Print

Rod Brooks (that's me) is VP & CMO of PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company and serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Board of Directors for the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA).  It's important to disclose both of those relationships and to be clear that this is my personal blog where I share thoughts and opinions that are solely my own.  Contact me!

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