Tim Minchin's version of Don't Dream It's Over, promoting MND awareness, shows the power of engaging through empathy and emotion

Walk in their shoes: Engaging through empathy.

If you want to engage your audience, your most powerful weapon isn’t logic – it’s empathy and emotion. To understand what I mean, watch this brilliant version of Don’t Dream It’s Over by Tim Minchin and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, which did the rounds during MND Awareness Week in May.

As the orchestra drops away instrument by instrument, the viewer gets a striking sense of what it might feel like for an MND sufferer to lose control of their body. It’s a far more powerful and memorable understanding than we’d gain by reading a list of facts and figures about the disease.

The key to this ad’s success is that it puts the audience rather than the “product” at the heart of the communication, then uses the audience’s experience to create empathy with the cause they’re promoting.

It’s about the customer, not your product.

One of the most common mistakes businesses make is for their advertising to be a list of product features. That engages the customer’s intellect, and invites them to compare your product to competitors.

The more effective approach is to show how your product or service solves a problem the customer struggles with.

If you can recreate the sensation of having that problem – make the viewer feel the frustration of being stuck in traffic, the heaviness of a cold – and then recreate the relief the viewer will feel when the problem is solved, you give the audience an emotional desire for your product. You create a subconscious connection for the customer that they can feel that relief again by buying your product or supporting your organisation.

Tapping into emotional motivation puts reason in the backseat, making factors like price less important in the buying decision. And it cuts your competitors out of the conversation. 

Think of Tim.

So next time you’re considering how to pitch your business, think of Tim. Think about how you felt as he was left alone on stage. Think of the surge of happiness you felt as the music returned at the end.

Then think of how you can show in a similarly emotional way how your business solves customer problems.

Need help with your marketing campaigns? We’re experts in emotion.

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