Engaging Customers - From Bored to Boombastic!

by James Shaw, Creative Director Are your customers ENGAGED with your message (or bored out of their minds)? When it comes to engaging your target audience, not all marketing channels are created equal....

You are competing with 1000's of messages everyday. Your "target audience" is being bullseyed with so many random, off-topic, and boring attempts to capture their attention that they've probably tuned out most marketing messages altogether.  Wow, that's a depressing thought for marketing managers and advertisers, right?!  Industry insiders have even gone so far to say proclaim things like, "Death of the Advertising Agency" and other disturbing headlines.

Engagement_by_media_typeI'm sick of advertising too. [I'm the Creative Director for Twin Creek Media, but since I own the company I'm not worried about being fired for a statement like that! Whew! ;-) ] Aren't we all sick of advertising?  Let's define advertising as: any boring marketing message that we aren't interested in, isn't relevant, and isn't engaging.  No one likes "advertising" in that sense.  So what's the opportunity?  As marketers, business owners, sales reps, and business developers our goal is to communicate our messages so well that they do not come across as ads.  The challenge is to make them the opposite of the definition above:  un-boring, interesting, relevant, and engaging. The topic of this article is Engagement, so we'll leave the other communication goals alone for now.  Marketing and advertising used to be limited to mostly "push" type messages.  Traditional mediums of print, radio, and TV can be effective if done creatively (and targeted as much as possible) but in general the communication is one way.  Marketers push the message out to sea and hope someone eventually picks up their message-in-a-bottle.  Tradigital mediums are not whole lot better in my opinion, but at least your target audience can find your message whenever they want - it's accessible and searchable on Google for example.  The other advantage of pushing content out online is that it can be interactive.  People can dig, explore, learn and sort of control their experience with your brand, product, or service. Stop "pushing" and have real conversations on Social Engagement channels. The major advantage of this type of communication is that it's two way.  People talk, and people talk back.  If your marketing message is genuinely interesting and relevant to your audience it won't be treated as an ad.  Instead of being boring and ignored your message becomes a thread in normal conversation.  It's a story worthy of repeating.  This is true marketing success! Wait! Social Media is not the answer to all your marketing goals. Nothing irks me more than flavour-of-the-day marketing.  It's important to figure out exactly what you're trying to do, and who you're trying to reach.  Social networks are not the obvious answer every time.  Set measurable goals so you'll know if moving in the right direction.  Often it's best to integrate all the marketing channels together.  They each have strengths and weaknesses, and instead of jumping on the band wagon with the latest (untested) web tool, craft balanced campaigns to meet your communication goals.  Use a blend of traditional and digital tactics.  Use one channel to spark awareness and curiosity.  Another to inform.  Another to capture.  Another to have conversations.  Another to sell.  Another to retain.  Another to... well, you get the idea. Have an opinion on engaging customers?  We'd love to hear them!  Comment below.