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Guide to Empathy Mapping for Business Innovation [Free Toolkit]

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Empathy mapping is a tool used to better understand your target audience and is an extremely useful exercise to undertake whenever you are beginning a new project, tackling a challenge or seizing a new opportunity.

An empathy map involves trying to understand your audience as intimately as possible in order to identify their true needs and pain points (as opposed to those that you think they have).

Empathy mapping not only allows you to market your product or service more effectively, it can also help you to validate your idea, innovate and something else.

One of the most common reasons that start-ups fail is that there is not desire in the market for their product or service. Had they completed an empathy map before launching, they might have been able to identify a niche that their audience actually wanted rather that just what they assumed people would want.

Empathy mapping can also be useful when considering pitching for investment to help you understand just how to pitch your idea to investors or when hiring new employees.


An empathy map is a fairly straightforward tool to use and the team at Yohlar have a template that you can download here.

Most empathy maps invite you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and consider, among others:

  • What they are worrying about

  • What they are happy about

  • What they think

  • What they say

  • What they want

  • What they hear/see

The most important thing about empathy mapping is to be as specific as possible in choosing your person.

Ideally, choose a real person that you know.

This could be an existing customer that you have got to know, someone that you have interviewed or spoken to beforehand, someone you have made up to suit your needs, or, if you fall into your target audience, do it on yourself.

At the very least, you should know the age, name and location of your customer, many people find it helps to use a picture of the person they are empathising with.

Once you have identified your person, all you have to do is follow the prompts on the template being used.

Try to be detailed: if you think someone is stressed, include why they are stressed. It might feel repetitive but once complete you will have a much better understanding of your target audience.

What you should do after empathy mapping

So, you have completed your empathy map, what next?

  • Stick it on a wall so you can easily refer to it and share it with your team.

  • A good next step after completing the empathy map is to move onto the Value Proposition canvas taking that person as the basis for it. The empathy map should make it far easier to begin listing jobs, pains and gains for your customer.

  • You could also begin to review your product and/or messaging with the empathy map in mind. Now that you understand and empathise with them more thoroughly, how do you think they would respond to the way you are marketing your product? Or can you now identify a better way to resonate with your audience?

  • Completing an empathy map can also highlight areas where you may need to do more research into your audience’s experiences. Use tools like the 5 Whys to uncover hidden causes of your person’s pain points, or conduct further market research to better fill out the empathy map.

More and more, a person-centred approach is shown to be one that succeeds, for example, Spotify’s Spotify Wrapped dominates social media for a week every December prompting a 21% increase in downloads in 2020.

This approach is only possible when you fully understand your audience, their goals and their pains. Empathy maps are one step to help you achieve that.

If you are interesting in empathy mapping and person-centred, why not join one of Yohlar’s one day discovery workshops?


The whole workshop was excellent!
I was hugely impressed at what we were able to achieve as a team with such excellent facilitators

Jannette Archer, NHS

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