We previously revealed to nonprofits and social enterprises that psychographics coexist with demographics. They’re like distant cousins, but an inseparable pair for audience segmentation, and still integral in unearthing your donor, customer, or constituent needs.
Going the demogprahic-only route would just be a half-hearted endeavor.
Empathy maps complete the picture. They’re like extra sensory perception, visually mapping out the human psyche and allowing you to accurately roleplay an experience before you engage with anyone. They’re indispensable for deciphering emotional connections or preventing mistakes before you send out that next newsletter or appeal.
Empathy maps were first devised by global business consultancy XPLANE (now Dachis Group) to tap into behaviors, concerns, and aspirations for a client’s customers. Since then, other businesses, educators, and nonprofits alike have adopted and deployed these in group collaboration exercises and workshops to creatively harness the thoughts of their constituents and stakeholders.
Stuck on how to connect with people? What exactly is their emotional relationship with your cause or organization? With you? How do you communicate your empathy or inspire others to take action? Empathy maps bring you closer to that answer.
It’s advised to try this in groups. Everyone can draw out their assumptions and observations, and others on your internal staff can serve as each other’s “checks and balances.” You’ll be floored by what you come up together.
Go here for a template.
How to Kickstart It
Some people love using neon post-it notes. Others do it on a whiteboard. Google Images shows a nice barrage of examples.
Begin with a big question
Maybe you’re wondering how the public perceives your cause? Are you targeting a particular geographic location with specific needs? Or maybe you have competing nonprofits or enterprises out there, and you’re trying to find the best way to differentiate yourself from the pack.
Construct the Map
Empathy maps are broken down into six quadrants. As you begin to roleplay as an audience member with your big question in mind, you can fill out each quadrant accordingly. Feel free to reframe a quadrant’s questions:
What issues and problems surround them? What are market and environmental factors that are self-evident? What kind of people surrounds them?
2. Thinking/ Feeling?
What are their guiding thoughts and beliefs? Whose opinions might be influencing them, too? What emotions might have the greatest impact? View Plutchik’s Wheel.
Who do they say they are in public? What are their attitudes and actions? What are they saying to others?
What are they hearing from other people? The most prevalent thoughts and opinions surrounding them by friends, family, and the communications channels (like social media, broadcast, etc) that are they plugged into?
What are their pains, frustrations, or obstacles? What compels them to action, or what stops them from taking action?
What are their aspirations and motivations? What do they really want to achieve? What would be their gain?
Time to Complete
Do these take long? It varies. I’d wager anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour depending on discussion and things discovered. But it’s irrelevant because of the kinds of palpable insight you can achieve. You want to make sure to take your time, ask lots of questions, and be honest in coming up with accurate answers.
Well, you guessed it: Aside from tactical problem solving and one-offs, empathy maps also allow for a much more solid marketing plan. Separating facts and assumptions about what your audiences is crucial for preventing misfires in communications.