Even just a few short years ago the hottest trend in marketing was trust. As brands’ tenacious efforts to deliver on expectations have fallen short however, the concept of the authentic brand-consumer relationship has shifted. While consumers aren’t concealing their disappointment or their cynicism, they are prepared to give you all another chance.
The latest marketing idea to sweep through the industry is what is being termed The Feelings Economy, based upon the idea that engagement is the new strategic and tactical objective. Engagement may be the buzzword de jour, but I feel its meaning is so important in the context of consumerism that it warrants another look.
To start with, the underlying problem with engagement is that some marketers have embraced it so wholeheartedly that they have started to actually swing the other way. The last few years has seen the industry begin to focus too heavily on the medium not the message, harvesting clicks and likes in a race to claim relevance, running away with an engagement metric above all else.
Not only are marketers focusing too heavily on the numbers, but the beautiful stats presented in the boardroom are being used to justify spend. Instead, I believe brands need to talk to the people who count, not count the people they talk to. In the absence of smart digital, brand and creative thinking – all of which are significant components of a solid brand marketing strategy – brands are missing the mark in the execution of their messaging, even if targeted to the right customer segments.
So what does this mean to me? Well, let’s start at the beginning…
Engaging your audience means successfully triggering and then connecting an emotional response with their behaviour. It goes like this – a consumer responds emotionally to your brand’s marketing activity and acts accordingly. Interestingly enough, that there is a possibility of a sale is only one implication of this new relationship.
What’s arguably more important is the establishment of the brand-consumer relationship itself. This implies an inherent relevance, usefulness, mutual respect and/or genuine interest, driven by a multitude of potential interactions that the brand may have with the consumer.
Thankfully our online activity is no longer derided as an indulgence, but accepted as one of the many ways society interacts, giving online channels a newfound respectability and relevance. Because of this, digital connectivity now enables unsurpassed access and reach, creating a myriad of opportunities to engage.
Digitisation has built a vault of data so stunningly rich that marketers have the capacity to engage consumers with ever more meaning and relevance than ever before. The sophistication of market segmentation made possible by data analysis excitingly brings the likelihood of engagement closer still with each added layer of customisation.
So, what questions do we need to be asking first? The challenge is to think about how we as marketers tap into the power of customisation when volume is still important to drive visibility. And how do we avoid mind-crushingly generic ‘engagement’ communications that can alienate individuals, generating brand avoidance or even worse, negative consumer perceptions and behaviour?
Stay connected with us as we provide the answers to these questions and discuss how we talk to the people who count.
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