Discover more from Chief Empathy Officers by Pat Timmons
As Marketers, Our Job is Storytelling And a Great Story is Rooted In Empathy, Why?
Because humans are not perfect, and our stories are complex. More with GoFundMe’s Kelsea Little on empathy in this issue of Chief Empathy Officers:
It has been a second since this email hit your inbox, but we made it.
Before we dive into this one with the fabulous Kelsea Little, I want to open up a convo.
Reply to this email with your response to the following question:
✨ What ways are you implementing empathy in your work as a marketer, daily? ✨
I am going to share the results of this question in a fun and engaging way, ONLY if I get enough responses so smash that reply button.
Now let’s get into Kelsea’s interview. Kelsea is the Head of Brand Storytelling at GoFundMe and has led campaigns that will absolutely make you feel somethi- feel EVERYTHING.
Dive in, share this with your pals, and feel all the feels.
How does your team at GoFundMe put empathy into action? Can you provide an example of a campaign that incorporated empathy and the results of the campaign? (This can be any KPI).
One of GoFundMe's core values is actually “Spread Empathy” (my favorite one, big surprise) and I’m constantly astounded by how our team walks the walk of that sentiment on a daily basis. In many cases, people come to GoFundMe when they’re going through a tough time in life, and it’s important to us to remember that there is a human being behind every fundraiser story and to approach every single one of our decisions with our customers in mind.
One of my favorite campaigns we did this year was called “New York is Kind”—in my opinion, the entire concept was rooted in empathy. I loved this campaign because we were not selling anything, not pushing any sort of bottom line CTA down people’s throats. The whole point of the campaign was to thank New Yorkers for showing amazing kindness during the pandemic. We discovered that a New Yorker had donated to a GoFundMe every 30 seconds last year and thought that deserved celebrating. The campaign came to life with beautiful OOH placements all over New York City (some with hundreds of names of donors in tiny font that when zoomed out made up the word “KIND”), 3 films and 9 articles celebrating New Yorkers who are doing amazing things in their communities, and lots of love on socials.
What is an experience that has proven to you the importance of empathy in marketing?
My job is all about storytelling, and I have witnessed first hand how important it is to approach each story with empathy. It can be easy to want to editorialize and shape a story in the exact way that you want, but that’s not honoring the person who has entrusted you to tell theirs. Humans are not perfect, and our stories are complex. When I do a podcast interview for example, I find it really important to create a space that feels safe so that my guest can really open up and be vulnerable. I craft my questions to allow them to show up as their whole self, not just framed in whatever their current situation is. As a result, the stories become so much richer and so much deeper.
What are your biggest challenges as a business / marketing leader and how can empathy help you overcome those challenges?
Something we think about a lot at GoFundMe is the experience of someone who starts a GoFundMe, and all of the barriers to that process. The reality is that no one likes asking for help. It’s one of the hardest things for us as human beings to do. But we also have witnessed first hand at GoFundMe that when people take that vulnerable step, there is a community waiting for them who are so happy to answer the call. We are always thinking about how to encourage more of that vulnerability and show what beautiful things can happen as a result. The only true way I can work to solve that problem is by leading with empathy—whether it’s trying my best to understand what our users may be going through emotionally, or making myself start a GoFundMe at least once a year so I never stray too far from the actual experience, it’s very important for me to always be considering and honoring the experiences of our users.
What is something all marketing professionals should read or watch to make them more empathetic?
Aside from the forthcoming Pat Timmons masterpiece, Feel Something, I was really impacted by Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness—this was required reading in the early days of GoFundMe, and it is such a profound example of how incorporating empathy into your business strategy and keeping your customer’s best interests top of mind can lead to an amazingly loyal customer base. Trust takes time and effort to build, but it’s such a worthwhile investment.
Who are some of the most empathetic people and brands you know and why?
Gosh, I am lucky to know so many empathetic humans—many of my coworkers at GoFundMe instantly come to mind. I actually have to shout out GoFundMe’s CEO, Tim Cadogan. He joined the company a few weeks before the pandemic and I have been in awe of his leadership ever since, both internally and externally. I’m so proud of what we stand for as a company, and I feel valued as a human being (not just an employee) every day I come to work—all of that comes from top-down empathetic leadership.
As far as brands go, I am a really big fan of Glossier. They don’t get enough credit for their social strategy—they take so much time to interact with their customers, celebrate their creativity, and tell them they’re beautiful (with or without makeup/their product). It could easily come across as just checking a box for engagement, or spamming socials with comments, but they do a really amazing job of making you feel like they’re being super genuine. Feels like a comment from a good friend that hypes you up in the best way. Glossier 4 ever!
Want to know more about empathy marketing? You might like my book, Feel Something. Go take a peek!
Liked this edition of Chief Empathy Officers? Did something resonate? Tweet about it with the #ChiefEmpathyOfficers and tag me at @pattimmons_.
Thank you for reading. <3
Note: you are receiving this email because you subscribed to my substack or have pre-ordered my book Feel Something. If you no longer wish to receive this newsletter, you can unsubscribe below.