Marketing with Empathy and Gratitude with Rob Volpe


November 30, 2020

rob volpe ignite 360 on brand

“Empathy is something that every human has but our empathy muscle has atrophied.” This week on the On Brand podcast, we talked about a timely, relevant topic—empathy. Now more than ever, people want empathy from brands. Yet, collectively, we’ve never been less empathetic. How do we fix this and how can we use these tools to better connect with our customers? Rob Volpe of insight strategy firm Ignite 360 explains on this week’s episode of the On Brand podcast.

Enjoy This Episode Now

About Rob Volpe

Rob Volpe is an astute observer of life and a master storyteller who brings empathy and compassion to the human experience. As CEO of insight strategy firm Ignite 360, he leads a team of insights, strategy, and creative professionals serving the world’s leading brands across a range of industries.

As a thought leader in the role of empathy in marketing and the workplace, he frequently talks on the topic, is cited in media, and writes about building and applying empathy. He’s finishing his first book, Everyday Americans, which explores his own journey to an empathetic understanding of Americans through his ethnographic work.

Episode Highlights

The five steps to empathy. At a time when we’re struggling with a collective empathy deficit, it’s important to understand the five steps that lead to better empathy:

  1. Dismantle judgment
  2. Ask good questions
  3. Actively listen
  4. Integrate into understanding
  5. Solution making

Rob gave a summary of each during our interview.

How does empathy help us connect with customers? First, Rob detailed the two types of empathy—cognitive empathy and affective empathy. Affective empathy is the emotional, squishy thing that can be hard to grasp. However, cognitive empathy is perspective-taking, which is critical in the world of work as we’re constantly trying to “understand our consumers or colleagues.”

“We need both the what data and the why data.” As Rob said, “The what data is the quantitative and the why data is the qualitative. We need both the data and the story.”

What does our empathy crisis mean when it comes to COVID-19? “250,000 have died,” Rob noted grimly. To better understand how people feel about this, Ignite 360 launched their Navigating the New Normal podcast, which now includes over 450 hours of interviews with real Americans struggling with COVID-19 and the world today.

What brand has made Rob smile recently? Noting that we’ll be seeing more from gratitude as a macro trend, Rob pointed to his recent purchase of a Peloton bike and their corresponding empathic marketing and messaging.

To learn more, go to the Ignite 360 website and connect with Rob on LinkedIn.

As We Wrap …

Did you hear something you liked on this episode or another? Do you have a question you’d like our guests to answer? Let me know on Twitter using the hashtag #OnBrandPodcast and you may just hear your thoughts here on the show.

On Brand is sponsored by my book Brand NowDiscover the seven dynamics to help your brand stand out in our crowded, distracted world. Order now and get special digital extras. Learn more.

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Until next week, I’ll see you on the Internet!

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Nick Westergaard
Email Brand Driven Digital

is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.




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