You have to feel bad for marketers: For years, they’ve tried to keep pace with changing buyer behaviors and adapt to the cross-device and cross-channel habits of their customers. To guide their progress, they’ve fallen back on familiar routines: benchmarking against past performance, optimizing short-term results, and pushing people through the sales funnel.

The problem with these legacy mindsets is they neglect a crucial element: the customer.

How can marketers fix this? The solution doesn’t require more technology, data, or analytics — it requires changing your mindset to be customer-obsessed. It requires empathy.

This was a key theme over our interviews with marketers, agencies, and brands. While your carefully crafted personas, demographic breakdowns, lead scoring models, and ad response data provide knowledge and understanding of targets and audiences, they don’t reflect the reality that your customers are complex people with emotions, needs, and challenges.

We heard time and time again that the panel surveys and focus groups of yesteryear aren’t cutting it anymore — marketers need more face time with customers and should put themselves in their customers’ shoes. One consultant took this idea literally: His team helped a client better understand Millennials by swapping out the clients’ shoes for ones popular with this younger generation. He described the impact of the experience: “The Converse and TOMS may not have fit perfectly, but neither will trying to understand another person’s point of view without metaphorically taking off your own shoes first.”

Our three-part series on adopting a new marketing mindset provides a wealth of examples of how marketers can develop empathy within their teams and spread this concept throughout their companies:

We’ll also be discussing this new marketing mindset in a webinar on June 6 with Caroline Robertson. We hope you’ll join us!

Old mindsets unconsciously tether marketers to the days of batch-and-blast marketing. Developing a human, helpful, and handy mindset liberates marketers and brands to find new ways to win customers’ interest, trust, and favor by connecting to customers’ true needs and providing messaging that is relevant and valuable.