Engagement Marketing: How to kill it, without KILLING it.

Luke Miller, President and COO – Shop Marketing and Creative Group

Engagement marketing; what is it? For starters, in the marketing world, if you don’t have a cool title then you must not be a good marketer. Your title SHOULD beg questions and change often. Marketing is about recognizing the ever shifting dynamic in the world and staying ahead of the ephemeral curve. Marketing is doing what everyone isn’t doing…yet. It’s about ideas that shift thinking and evolve the subject.

Engagement marketing is any form of marketing that engages a consumer, so they are no longer passive recipients of a message, but active participants (engagees) in the crafting and reception of that message. Things like event marketing, experiential marketing, mobile marketing, and the ill-defined ‘social media marketing’ fall under this umbrella…at least for me.

Crafting a good marketing campaign is about the amalgamation of ideas that make you go “huh?” Good, and sometimes even bad, marketing campaigns draw the consumer in. They demand discussion, they force questions, and they leave you scratching your head or picking up the pieces of your blown mind. Bud Light’s ‘Up for Whatever’ campaign, Oregon’s NCG uniform selection, and most of GEICO’s commercials come to mind. The lines between good and bad are blurred, but you’re left doing exactly what any marketer hopes for: further conversation. Effective marketing isn’t one directional, it’s omni-directional. Crafting an engaging campaign is easy, crafting one that is positive, leads to conversation, and, hopefully, conversion is the hard part.


Here are some great ways to head down the road we all desire when we strategize:

Know Your Brand/Product

Understand what you do, who you are, and who you want to become or remain. You can’t have the entire cake right now, so understanding who you are helps you pick the right piece at the right time. You can always come back for more, but don’t ruin the party by trying to eat the whole cake in one bite.

Turn the Spotlight

There is always going to be a brand or product out there that is spending more than you. Any brand can buy a spotlight, but those who earn it always shine brighter. Do something that commands attention. Shocking, startling, thrilling, exciting, loud, and bright events are the ones that involuntarily draw my eyes and ears. Make my decision to engage for me.

Make Boring Exciting

There are lots of things we do in life that are boring, but often times these things are mandatory. Transform mandatory into obligatory. Instead of responding to a customer with a thank you note, make them a thank you video. A change in thinking is tough, but the smallest adjustment can make ordinary extraordinary.

Tell a Story…that can be retold

We’ve all heard this one: tell a story. People enjoy narrative, plot, and characters, but it’s not just about a story anymore, it’s about a tale. Doesn’t the word tale just seem grander? Well, it is. Tales are tall, tales are enthralling, but most importantly tales are told and then they are told again. It’s one thing to tell a story and have one person listen, it’s another thing to tell a tale that is shared over and again.

Inform, don’t Sell

Decisions to buy should come from a well-informed consumer. Unless you’re *NYSNC “Buy! Buy! Buy!” just isn’t going to do it anymore. Especially in this recovering, yet still austere economy, high-pressure sales are not going to yield results. Consumers want to feel like they are getting a deal or a good buy and the only way to comfort a consumer is to inform them. An educated purchase always feels better than an impulse purchase. You may not have started as the best option, but because you were honest and informative you became the best option.

Call to…

You thought I was going to say action didn’t you? This is one of the biggest “must do” items in marketing, but I don’t know why. Loyalty is grown over time, so take the time to grow it. One time buyers are far less valuable than repeat buyers. You don’t always need a link to something else or an avenue to make a purchase. Sometimes it’s perfectly fine calling to just say “Hi!”.

Play the Crowd

There are a million people, just like me, telling you what is right or wrong when it comes to engagement marketing, but no one is more right than your audience. If you want to try and sell a steak to a vegan, go for it, but I bet you’ll have more success with the carnivore next to her. My point is: engage when it makes sense for your audience. Choose topics your followers and customers are interested in. Learn who your audience is and when they’re at your show, then just play the crowd.

Last, but not least, and this should all go without saying, but…

Strategize

Plan, know your plan, know why it is your plan, and then stick to your plan. It’s ok if you have a genius idea on the fly, just make sure it aligns with the previous plan and can’t possibly backfire.

Quality over Quantity

Form an identity, stick to your guns, and produce high quality content. The more you dilute what you do, the less people will pay attention.

The 3 R’s

It’s not just about protecting the environment: reduce, recycle, and reuse. It goes hand in hand with quality, but control the amount you post/activate (making sure it’s high quality), recycle ideas, times, styles, etc. that work, and don’t be afraid to reuse something if it was successful. 


Bottom Line: Be positive, be relevant, be fun, but most importantly stop trying so hard. Your entire life, you’ve been marketing. Who you are is what has gotten through this world. It’s how you made friends, how you found success, how you performed in school, and more. No one wrote a book on that, you just did it. If you find marketing difficult you are in the wrong career. Marketing is passion for what you do and expressing that passion. If you can’t figure out how to do it right, it is possible it’s the product, but it is more likely the person.

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