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Customer empathy in marketing

Updated: Jun 27

I want to take my hat off to those who do marketing for a living. Over the last few weeks, I’ve come to appreciate how broad a subject of marketing is, and how changes in thinking and perception can make a huge difference.

My marketing experience

As a startup founder, it’s not enough to have a great idea if nobody can find you. Marketing is the art of being found, then translating customer interest into action.

As a startup mentor, I’ve coached many people on the best approach to getting their new business found. Often, those people have managed to acquire enough customers to make their business thrive. The lesson for me over the last few weeks, is just how difficult it is to translate my advice into successful marketing.

As the owner of the Toolshed, I follow the Toolshed framework to grow my business and base my marketing strategy on a Lean Canvas and business plan. So, I think I already know my target market and what they’re looking for. But the key to successful marketing is not in the knowing your part in it, but to change your perspective to that of a potential customer. What they’re looking for, and how they want it presented to them, is probably not what you’ll offer if you don’t change perspective. That has been my lesson.

Consequently, I’ve changed my approach and try much harder to become a customer when explaining my offer, letting my own interests take a back seat.


ChatGPT can provide you with the elements of a marketing strategy, and it’s a good place to start. But it’s lacking the human element. Marketing is about engaging people in the way they want to be engaged, and ChatGPT can’t give you that. As every startup is different, trying to engage their audience uniquely, every marketing plan is also unique.

What I’m talking about is a change of mindset, to see the world through the eyes of your customer. When you succeed in this, your business is much more likely to succeed.

You will need to make this shift many times during your startup journey. When developing your business plan, our framework asks you to focus on customer needs and interests first. When developing a marketing plan and collateral, it’s again important to change your perspective, to focus on a subset of your potential customer base. As you grow your business, time and again, you’ll run experiments to find a better way of understanding the world of your customer and how to engage them better.


This is where I’ve had my realisation over the last few weeks. I believe in the framework that I’ve developed for the Toolshed and am passionate about helping startup owners succeed. But that’s all about me. What my customers want is to understand is whether my passion has strong foundations. My customers want to know that they can trust in my expertise and the guidance built into the Toolshed framework.

So, many homepage tweaks and rewrites later, the Toolshed reflects a new voice, not that of its founder, but that of the many startup owners who are looking for greater success in their new business.

My realisation has been that, If I can’t talk your language, then I’m just selling an empty product that will be less effe

ctive in helping you and consequently, won’t support my mission, to help more startups succeed.

So, hats off to marketing professionals who achieve this feat of perspective changing every day of the week! It’s not something that all of us find easy.

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