The explosion in social media is clearly causing some Russian-novel-level brooding among corporate marketers.
The marketing world has exploded (yet again), and bits of social media, blogs, twitter, video, texting and who knows what else are raining down on our carefully crafted (static) Web sites and ad campaigns.
Of course, there’s no shortage of cheerleaders. “Blog” says one. “Social networking!” cries another. “Twitter this!” shouts the micro-message crowd.
They’re wrong, of course. Technology is the servant of your marketing goals, not their master.
Instead, ask yourself this: what do all these media channels allow me to do that I couldn’t do before?
Don’t Interrupt – Engage.
Today’s two-way media channels offer a unique benefit; instead of marketing at customers, you have the ability to engage with them, building powerful brand loyalty and a mile-wide conversational pipeline.
How? The strongest connection you can create with a consumer is to engage with them via their passions and values.
Demonstrate that your organization shares their passions and values, and suddenly, you’re connecting via the emotional spaces surrounding your products and services.
Engagement marketing represents a powerful connection – one that builds long-term relationships, and sidesteps the “always uphill” battles of interrupt marketing techniques.
What are the upsides of engagement marketing?
The Loyalty of Engagement
Customer loyalty has become the holy grail – and we’ve just been handed a whole new set of loyalty tools. They’re online media channels where customers wrap themselves in a community-based identity – one centered around their values, passions, and your brand.
Engaged customers aren’t passive receivers of product bullet points; they’re active participants. Thus, their willingness to switch brands is close to nil.
The Bandwidth of Engagement
In an environment where marketing attention deficit disorder (MADD) is the norm, traditional interrupt marketers struggle to make even a wisp of an impression.
By contrast, an engaged customer is willing to set aside minutes instead of seconds – and they’ll amplify your message by passing it along to others.
The Humanity of Engagement
Engagement allows an organization to expose customers to the human beings who run it, and in an environment where communication flows two ways.
Companies have long sought “one-to-one” marketing channels, but what they were actually describing were “company-to-one” connections. The beauty of engagement channels? They offer a true “one-to-one” connection.
The SEO of Engagement
Blogs and other engagement channels are also powerful SEO tools. Search engines love a constant flow of content, so blogs become a two-for-one deal – you build a community of staunch brand advocates, and claw your way up Google too.
Who should engage?
Engaging customers and prospects online is rarely a one-off event. It takes time; the conversation often occurs in discrete chunks instead of a single sales message, and hype or corporatespeak are engagement killers.
Organizations benefiting the most from engagement marketing often compete in passion-based markets. One good example is Patagonia, a leading outdoor clothing and products manufacturer.
Their customers share a passion for the outdoors and environmental issues, and the company recently fired up their own blog – The Cleanest Line.
The blog – written by several Patagonia employees – reflects Patagonia’s passion for the outdoors, their concern for environmental issues, and their leadership in “green” manufacturing.
Patagonia’s blog is too new to accurately measure its impact – or to even develop a “voice” of its own – but other examples abound.
Robert Scoble is credited with easing Microsoft’s “evil empire” image, and Sun Microsystem’s CEO blog by Johnathon Schwartz (http://blogs.sun.com/jonathan/) showcases Sun’s values and passions for open computing.
Are you ready for engagement marketing? With the emergence of affordable, two-way media channels like blogs, it might be ready for you.
Tom Chandler is a copywriter and marketing consultant with 21+ years of experience. He authors blogs on Engagement Marketing (http://engagementprinciples.com) and Copywriting (http://copywriterunderground.com). His Web site sits quietly waiting for you at http://chandlerwrites.com.