Long before the social web, people would get to know those who they did business with on a personal level. Now we have built Customer Relationship Management systems so that we have some understanding of who our customers are, how often we are talking to them, what products they are interested in, etc. to help us manage customer service and automate sales and marketing. This has not changed the fundamental truth that,
~Rachelle Disbennett-Lee, PhD
By engaging our communities through face-to-face experiences and the social web, we have a new opportunity to reconnect our brands with the people we do business with. Here are a few tips to get you started.
1. Don’t focus so much on Second Life that you forget people have a “first life”
My 14-year-old son was talking to his best friend about “leveling” his character while playing World of Warcraft. I asked them what level they were in real life. A deeply philosophical discussion ensued, and then, for the rest of the afternoon, they played with each other outside.
In all the buzz about social media and web 2.0, we seem to be forgetting that the most important interactions take place in person. Make sure you allow opportunities for people to experience your brand in person. This is what builds real relationships.
2. Experience Matters
I saw John Mayer perform at a BlackBerry event in Las Vegas a few weeks ago. There were some folks in the audience that were so focused on taking pictures of the concert with their mobile devices to share with their friends, they seemed to forget that there was a special experience happening that was just for them.
Without experiences we would have nothing to share on blogs, YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and the like. Engage your audiences face-to-face in a meaningful way, and they will become your brand advocates, both on and offline.
3. Its Not About You
While I was at the Consumer Electronics Show last month, I was amazed at the inward focus most of the leading consumer electronics companies had about their brands. Some products were larger, some were faster, some were better looking, but at the end of the day, it was all about them.
It reminded me of a band of gorillas standing around and beating their chests in the hopes of attracting a mate.For face-to-face experiences to be successful, they need to be customer-centric among other things. The same holds true for engagement online. Think of your most successful personal relationships. No one likes to hang around people who talk about themselves all the time.
4. Engagement Marketing Hasn’t Driven a Single Sale…
…its influenced millions of them. According to Forrester Research, the traditional sales funnel has radically evolved from awareness, consideration, preference, action and loyalty, to a maze of recommendations from friends, peer reviews, competitive alternatives and user-generated content resulting in both buyers and contributors.
Make sure your legacy linear marketing and sales models reflect this, and adjust as necessary. How are you influencing both contributors and potential buyers in the sales process? Marketing and sales efforts need to be community-focused. This is true for both face-to-face and online interactions.
5. Engagement is Even More Important After the Sale
According to Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company,
- “Businesses may lose as many as 1/2 of their customers over a 5 year period.
- “Acquiring a new customer can cost 6 to 7 times more than retaining an existing customer.”
- “Businesses who boosted customer retention rates by as little as 5% saw increases in their profits ranging from 5% to a whopping 95%.”
Make sure you balance your face-to-face and online marketing activities to address everyone in your community all the time. This includes influencers, suspects, prospects, customers and brand advocates.
6. Engagement is an Ongoing Conversation
Earlier this week, I was reviewing the social media presence of some of the world’s largest brands. Some of which have been my clients, and some have not. I was interested to find that many had set up FaceBook Pages, Twitter profiles and the like, but have long since abandoned them. Instead, the communities have taken over and driven the conversation, sometimes in a very unfavorable way to the brand.
You wouldn’t open a restaurant or retail store, or set up a tradeshow and not show up. Why behave that way online? Have we learned nothing from Dell Hell and the Comcast technician asleep on the couch? Listen, and participate in the conversation.
7. Mobility Brings the Conversation Full Circle
In the beginning, there were face-to-face interactions with a brand. Then these face-to-face interactions would drive further community engagement online. Mobile engagement takes place at the same time everywhere. You can be having a face-to-face experience while you are engaging your mobile and online communities. A person can truly be in more than one place at once!
The opportunities and potential for the integration of mobility, online and face-to-face marketing are boundless. Consider tapping into the power of mobility and integrating it into your engagement plan.
8.“What We Do in Life, Echoes in Eternity…”
~Maximus, Gladiator – (I loved that movie) …or as Forrester puts it,
“what brands do offline echoes online.”
Long before there were mobile devices, computers, or even telephones, people would have a brand experience, either positive or negative, in person. This would influence their perception of a brand. Sometimes, they would share this experience with their friends which would in turn influence them. According to Jack Trout,
“Marketing is not a battle of products. It’s a battle of perceptions.”
A study conducted by the Event Marketing Institute found,
- 98% of people will recommend your brand after a positive experience(50% will tell at least 4 people)
- 95% will trash you based on a negative experience(62% telling at least 4 people)
Create a strategy that integrates your face-to-face activities with online and mobile activities. Helping to facilitate the conversation across your marketing portfolio, or before, during and after an event will ensure your investment has reach well beyond the original point in time of the event, creating a ripple effect. This long tail will not only help foster new acquaintances, but build deeper relationships.
9. Measurement is critical to continuous improvement and ongoing success
As marketers, we’ve been searching for the end of the rainbow for some time now. Understanding the optimal number, frequency, cadence and type of tactics helps us improve our art and our science. Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer writes,
“The problem with trying to determine ROI for social media is you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable.”
I understand Jason’s point, but would add human interactions and conversations are quantifiable to a point. We can quantify number of engagements, and through the application of semantic technologies, we can understand whether these engagements were positive or negative, but social media alone does not provide ROI.
Events on the other hand are quite measurable. In a recent BrandWeek article, the latest EventView study was discussed. Twenty-six percent of survey respondents said event marketing is the discipline that drives the greatest return-on-investment.
By combining social media and face-to-face strategies and measuring the relationship between the two, we can understand how engagement marketing moves the ROI needle. Monetize portfolios and campaigns, not just individual tactics, and we’ll get closer to finding the end of that rainbow.
First Published on the AMA Boston Blog 2/17/09