Here's a thought. Are marketers actually psychopaths? You may be laughing at that idea -- in a mad maniacal way -- or you may be horrified at the thought, but bear with me for a moment. A psychopath has no concerns for the impact their strategies or actions may have on others, and no empathy for those they interact with. They don't care about the feelings or needs of others and are single-minded about getting what they want, despite what the impact may be on someone else.

It can be all too easy to have your marketing material focused more on the needs of your business than the needs of your audience, and it can be easier still to disregard the value you can bring to your audience. In a nutshell,  your work becomes all about you and not your audience. It's too ego-centric.

So how can you avoid marketing like a psychopath? Here's six ways to stay focused and do the right thing.

1. Context is crucial

It's important of course to make sure the content you're producing and sharing is useful and relevant, but it needs to be completely in context too. If you don't understand the context of your customer journey you won't know if the content you're sharing is delivering value at the time it will have the best impact. So it will be likely be forgotten or ignored.

Understand your customer journey through your website and social channels to decide on the most effective times to publish, the right channels to use and the call to action you'll use. Ensure that the type of content you'll publish is based on the habits of your audience. You need to know all the factors that influence them.

2. Think audience first

Always take a moment to check in with yourself and ask yourself if what you're doing is in your audience's best interests.

3. Be thorough with your persona discovery

Make sure your persona mapping is thorough and that you're understanding all of the possible personas in your audience. It's easy to just focus on the obvious ones and ignore those with different needs and wants. Doing so means you'll alienate a large percentage of your audience.

4. Be empathetic

Empathy is vital in understanding your audience and marketing to them successfully. It's not enough to just know what they see, hear, feel and think, appreciate and dislike. You need to understand what drives those emotions and actions and have empathy for their pain and pleasure. An empathy mapping exercise is time well spent.

5. Consider the rational and the emotional

Your personas will be diverse. Some will respond to a headline, others prefer more detail. Some will make a quick decision, some will take their time. Some will like a story approach and some will prefer simple facts. You have to make sure you're appealing to everyone. Package your advice, expertise, services and products in a way that your audience will find most convenient and be most appreciated.

6. Ask for feedback, and listen to it

Always be looking for ways to improve, and always ask for feedback. After you've published content, dissect what's worked and what needs to be better. Pick out the key things you've learned about your audience from their reaction to your content. Put what you learn into practice and improve. You can never know too much about your audience. Ever.

So, hopefully you're feeling less like a psychopath? Think carefully about the stories you want to tell your audience. Connect with them emotionally. Follow the six rules and you're well on the way to a winning strategy.