Let's Get Married Now. What Is Engagement?
While most people think of engagement as the first and main stepping stone to marriage, many marketers today consider engagement to be the most important of The IX Mutant Print-for-Profit Muses, which are, in order, Relevance, Interaction, Integration, Engagement, Dialogue, Content, Context, Metrics, and ROI.
Why is engagement so important? Without engagement, the three steps prior to the engagement stage would not be nearly as successful, and the five steps after the engagement stage would never occur. Some will argue that to establish engagement you first need to develop dialogue. In some instances, that is correct, and in others, the opposite is true. Engagement is part of a greater tool sometimes bundled under the term "Engagement Marketing" — AKA, developing dialogue.
"Engagement marketing can include event marketing, experiential marketing, live marketing, personalization marketing, participation marketing, and hands-on or on-the-ground marketing."
Engagement is more than just dialogue or discussion or conversation. Engagement measures the relationship that the client or consumer has with the brand, via a simple formula. Think of the following: Engagement builds trust via the brand’s messaging, the media used, and the "product or idea" that the brand offers. When engaged to the correct demographics (critical need), you and your brand, as well as your printing facility, will benefit greatly.
In fact when I have been employed to evaluate why a marketing program has failed, I have found in some 75% of cases that the cause of failure has involved targeting an incorrect demographic. Whether it is focusing on the wrong gender (yes it has happened), selecting an incorrect age group, or pitching a product to the wrong market, engaging the correct demographic is more difficult than most think.
How is your engagement process going? I have added the word process here, because engagement is really a process that can use each and every tool in your marketing toolbox as well as each and every product and/or service your facility can offer! The engagement process is one that you will repeat every day of your business life, and your print facility may even (financially) survive based on how well you carry out the process. A problem many printers have is that they provide only PART of the overall process that includes the chain of communications, sales promotion, marketing, and advertising — and all that visible and often covert components of these integrated, digital, and legacy silos.
If you have an active new business program, you are engaging. If you have a social media program underway, you are engaging. If you have a salesperson or a sales team, you are engaging. The problem is that few printers, or even few mid-sized businesses in general, ever really link or integrate their engagement processes. Think (depending on your size, ambitions, and scope) of national, regional, or local events as occasions for interaction and engagement. Think about the trends and the future needs of your existing and potential client base in order to offer the most relevant products. And, lastly, integrate your messaging across all the TESTED and correctly selected media you have determined are a match for you and your existing and potential clients.
To illustrate the need to integrate your engagement, I repeat the opening statements from my last submission, which dealt with INTEGRATION:
Let’s start with a little math:
Engagement Without Marketing integration
1+1+1+1+1+1 = 6
Engagement With Marketing Integration
1+4+1+6+1+5 = 18
Consider the first equation defining a typical marketing communication effort. The sum is a predetermined result with little excitement and even less of a stunning impact and most likely a low or no ROI. Six single steps equal an expected result of 6.
Consider the second equation as defining a typical marketing communication effort where the sum is highly impacted by the change of the equation components. Now, the 6 steps total three times the "end" number — not by adding 3 times the steps, or using three times the effort, but by careful integration of the media, messaging, content, and context used in the marketing equation.
What Do You Print? #whatdoyouprint?
A large section of a printer’s business is supporting, directly via the brand or indirectly via the brand’s agency, the brand’s efforts to engage. If you print flyers or brochures, provide direct mail services, offer personalization, or supply digital linked to bar codes, NFC, websites, or mobile apps, you are engaging. Let’s make this clear. I am not saying you need to become an agency or MMP. What I am stating is that you already have the tools to contact, develop dialogue, and establish engagement, and you have the experience to use those tools. Actually, you have more marketing power tools for customers than an agency.
Failure One-step at a Time! #failureonestepatatime!
I often tell marketing students that I instruct or clients that I advise that they should optimize one type of media at a time. This commitment allows them to measure the impact of the media as a single source of their efforts. Failure comes when bulking media (via an inexperienced or limited experience marketing team, a limited or nonexistent marketing plan, or a 90-day wonder new business effort), or when trying to optimize multiple media paths without truly understanding the positive or negative impact that each media may have on your goals and objectives.
Engagement fails when the cycle is incorrect; the message is wrong; the demographics poorly fit the goals and objectives; there is no clear plan; expectations are unreal; or you are projecting surreal responses and results.
Go Forward and Engage!
When thinking engagement — think relevance, interaction, and integration.
Action One: Let’s get to know each other. Understand the needs of your market much as the print manufacturers understand your business needs when they make their new equipment pitch. In short, be relevant!
Action Two: Start relationships on the Internet. We live in a mobile world, a world that Google sees as offering micro-moments and conversation based on mobile integration. Printers need to embrace this concept and also create print-moments (#printmoments)—moments that define print as what it is and perhaps more importantly as to what it can be: a valid, vital, robust series of tools that are highly successful, are highly profitable, and have survived and excelled in a digital world. Success comes not by isolating the industry but by interacting and embracing the digital aspects of new marketing.
Action Three: Clarify your message. Consider you message and your brand as a series of integrated components that bring it alive—much as an airplane is just a pile of metal, plastic, wires, and fabrics until the various components are integrated via a defined and realistic plan. Then that pile almost magically converts into a device that can carry people around the world.
Content Is King, or Is It?
Thad Kubis is an unconventional storyteller, offering a confused marketplace a series of proven, valid, integrated marketing/communication solutions. He designs B2B or B2C experiential stories founded on Omni-Channel applications, featuring demographic/target audience relevance, integration, interaction, and performance analytics and program metrics.