Empathetic Marketing: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: June 2nd, 2012 by bobmorris

Empathetic Marketing: How to Satisfy the 6 Core Emotional Needs of Your Customers 
Mark Ingwer
Palgrave Macmillan (2012)

How and why emotions and resulting behaviors are the foundation for satisfying complex psychological needs 

I was curious to know when someone would combine insights from several quite different concepts and write a book such as this one. For example, from Robert Greenleaf’s essay, The Servant as Leader, the development of the concept of emotional intelligence (Charles Darwin, E.L. Thorndyke, David Wechsler, and most recently Daniel Goleman), and Howard Gardner’s research on multiple intelligences (notably his book, Frames of Mind). Well, without drawing upon these specific sources, Mark Ingwer has written that book and it is brilliant.

In essence, marketing creates or increases demand for whatever is offered. It could be a smart phone but it could also be a political platform or membership in a professional association or support of a non-profit, tax-exempt organization. Now we have a definitive guide to a unique marketing methodology. That is Ingwer’s singular achievement. As he explains, in order to satisfy “the 6 core emotional needs” of current prospective customers, one must understand those needs and be convinced that it is a privilege to serve them; also, one must possess emotional intelligence as well as highly developed reasoning skills because, as Ingwer explains, “emotions and ruling behaviors are the foundation for satisfying complex psychological needs. Our individual well-being – self-esteem, success, relationships, and happiness – is a result of our meeting emotional needs. An individual’s needs are satisfied when he or she is connected meaningfully to others, and through these connections comes to find his or her own unique value and identity. It is a ceaseless, evolving, lifelong endeavor.”

Ingwer devotes a separate chapter to each of the six “core emotional needs” (i.e. control, self-expression, growth, recognition, belonging, and care) and explains with rigor and clarity how and why needs-based marketing initiatives must accommodate, indeed nourish human emotions as well as deliver a convincing, indeed compelling “message.” Long ago in his poem Song of Myself, Walt Whitman asserted, I am large/I contain multitudes.” Marketers would be well-advised to keep Whitman’s comment in mind. According to Ingwer, “The motivation and emotion behind our quest for needs satisfaction and identify fulfillment all too often are not always consciously available to us.” True, but they are certainly available to empathic marketers such as Steve Jobs who realized long before anyone else did how appealing and personally (as well as functionally) fulfilling various iProducts would be.

Here are some of the most important subjects for which Ingwer provides information, insights, and counsel:

o The frequently hidden (or at least unrecognized) human needs that drive purchase decisions
o What the Needs Continuum is and why it should be coordinated with a psychological perspective
o How best to empathize with consumers’ core needs for control, self-expression, growth, recognition, belonging, and care
o A few core guidelines for how companies can take an empathetic approach to marketing

As indicated earlier, with all due respect to this brilliant book, all of the opportunities that await empathetic marketing initiatives as well as everything that Mark Ingwer recommends to take full advantage of those opportunities mean nothing unless and until an organization has people at all levels and in all areas who are – literally – servant leaders, who possess or are in the process of developing emotional intelligence, and who consider it a privilege to satisfy the core emotional needs of everyone with whom they are associated.

I presume to add a footnote: With only minor modifications, all of the principles that Mark Ingwer introduces would also be appropriate for improving the communication skills — especially persuasion — of those who interact with others within and beyond their workplace.

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