A Bit of Empathy Might Be the Best Marketing Strategy

Tuning into customers as people creates the most durable bonds.

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By Andy Hill

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It was a cold morning, which is not uncommon in St. Louis, even in the summer. Maybe it was due to the rain, but that cleared away soon, so I don't know. I was wearing what she would have wanted to me wear. It was a Friday and it was my grandmother's wake.

She was my mom's mom - a giver and the matriarch of four children, 12 grandchildren and 30 foster children, wife to my grandfather for 54 years. She lived in the same house and belonged to the same parish for nearly all her life. She had a lot of people at the wake.

Related: How to Make a Personal Connection with Customers

The day was long but went well, all things considered. There was, though, one moment where emotions flooded. I was grabbing an old record out of my grandpa's car when I looked over and saw the empty passenger seat. They were the type of couple that shared every ride together; from dentist to soccer game, they were together. That night, for the first time in 50 years, he'd drive home alone.

Blah. That was tough for me. So I stood outside an extra minute to collect myself. Alone. Looking down. Standing next to the quite road. No sounds of people talking or sharing or crying. Just silence. That was tough.

But in one moment that silence was broken by the honk of one solitary car driving by. I looked up and for no more than a second the driver of a Budweiser truck reached his hand out the window and waved. He honked, and in that one moment he was there with me. And now forever.

Related: 8 Ways to Make Your Marketing Message Stand Out

Anheuser-Busch has a larger marketing budget than the GDP of 17 countries. But one employee with one wave, created a stronger connection than any ad ever could.

We, as entrepreneurs, dedicate far too many resources on allegedly necessary marketing campaigns that no doubt drive traffic and sales. But are they enough? Moments move people - not CPC, or CPM, or SEO. As such, I believe moment marketing should exist right alongside social, search, guerrilla, and others.

For a startup, I contend that moment marketing could be the least scalable yet most beneficial tactic founders can implement throughout their organization.

It's an artistically subtle, unscalable-ly scalable strategy that can't be planned, only implemented. There are no rules or guidelines or metrics to measure success. It won't move millions, and might not even move one. But moments create movements. And movements create startups.

Related: Marketing to Millennials? Make It Personal and Customized.

Andy Hill

Founder & CEO of Stand4

Andy Hill is the founder and CEO of Stand4, a social good technology startup.

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