Monday, April 30, 2012

The Golden Era of Engagement Marketing

For the vast majority of companies, the days of marketing brands via mega-budget interrupt-driven advertising and promotion is over. For most companies, the old school of marketing via the 4 P’s (product, place, price, promotion) is dead. The good news—no, make that the great news—is the new world of marketing is all about customer engagement driven by 5 E’s: empathy, experience, everyplace, exchange, and evangelism. 


Marketing is now more important than ever. Customers no longer separate marketing from the product—it is the product. Customers don’t separate marketing from their on-site or online experience—it is the experience. In the engagement era of the hyper-social and connected customer, marketing is the company. Trust, transparency, authenticity, sustainability and social purpose have become the collective yardstick by which today’s brands will be increasingly judged. And now ask yourself this very important question: does your marketing honestly meet this new and high standard?

Engagement marketing starts with genuine empathy for your customer. As Brian Solis says, “Empathy is the connection between you and your customers. Empathy is the bridge between your customers and their peers. I’m not just listening to you, I hear you. I see and feel what you’re saying.” Great marketing starts by being a great listener and keen observer. Steven Covey’s sage advice of “seek first to understand, then to be understood” is a required habit to become a highly effective marketer.

We can no longer think merely about ‘product’; instead we need to discover, understand and map the end-to-end customer experience. In many instances, it is the end-to-end experience that provides you with the vitally important meaningful product differentiation. Marketing strategy and resulting creative must be inspired and informed by the experience; without it, marketing will under-perform or fail.

Place used to a retail store. Of course, physical stores still matter. But for today’s consumers, place is really ‘everyplace’ and is more likely to be their laptop, smart phone, tablet or a group of friends and colleagues than a traditional store. The key is to make contact with consumers when they are most receptive and willing to engage with you. That could be online, at an event, in store, just about anywhere at any time. Never has it been so important to be inviting and ready when consumers come calling at your ‘digital door.’

Price used to be so blessedly simple; set a price and either the customer buys or doesn’t. Now, it’s a dance, one that is increasingly digital or social. You need to know what it takes for a consumer to give you precious things like their attention, engagement and permission. What do you offer consumers in exchange? And in today’s 24/7 electronic bazaar, when might it make sense to add value or offer an online discount as part of exchange?

Old style promotion, with its single-minded product benefit focus, creatively, heavily and persistently promoted, may still work for a few big budget consumer goods (e.g., light beer). But most successful brands now know they must create a brand experience so inspiring to consumers they engage – and share their enthusiasm with others. The new evangelism evangelism formula: Word of mouth + web + social networking = brand advocacy via your brand tribe.