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The Rise of Engagement Marketing

November 29th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

gorillaI’ve been reading a lot lately about the “death” of traditional advertising and the rise of engagement marketing.  In this post I want to discuss engagement marketing, also known as engagement design, tryvertising, experiential marketing, and guerrilla marketing.

Undeniably, the importance of traditional advertising has diminished as we have gained greater access to what our friends think, via social media.  People naturally place more weight on their experiences and their friends’ experience with brands and products than on ads.  At the same time, our ability to block advertising is on the rise as well.  So what is a marketer to do to catch the attention of prospects and create a positive ROI on their marketing investments?

First, we have to understand why people behave the way they do when it comes to decision making.  In Advertising on the Brain it states, people “have an emotional and a physical reaction, before we engage in rational thought.”  In other words, we feel first, react second, and think last (sound like anyone you know?).  Emotions are the connection between our feelings and our actions.  In the same article it says, “It would really come in handy to have a yellow highlighter pen in your brain that says ‘This is important, remember it.’  That’s what emotions are; a yellow highlighter pen in your brain. We can’t make decisions without them because emotions are our brain’s way of signaling importance biochemically.”  Bottom line, marketers have to affect people’s emotions in order to get them to act.

Most advertising fails to elicit positive emotions, which proceeds action.  Any negative emotion felt, intentional or not, is carried over as a negative towards the brand/product.  As example, I often see in my neighborhood an ad on bus benches that states “All work and no play makes Jack a great realtor!”  Every time I see it I want to pick up the phone and tell Jack that his ad stinks and he should hire a real marketer instead of trying to do it himself! The problem here is that we all know the phrase from childhood “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” When I read Jack’s ad, I am reminded that he is a “dull boy,” and quite honestly I would never hire anyone who is “all work and no play.”  He must be burned out by now, and certainly is not one I’d entrust the purchase or sale of a home to.  Maybe he’d fall asleep in the middle of a transaction.  This was unintentional eliciting of a negative emotion, but what about intentional?

An ad on TV right now for the ASPCA with a Sarah McLachlan song playing in the background is intended to elicit a negative response, to get you to pick up the phone and donate to the organization.  The only problem is, I can’t stand it!  I have a weak spot for animals, and I will mute the TV in order to not cry.  Does it make me want to donate?  Not really.  I have enough pets that I “donate” to living in my own home, and I have trepidations about ASPCA because they are a kill-shelter.  If I had the funds to do so, I would rather donate to a no-kill shelter who I know is not taking my money to kill animals.  If I were them, I would take a different tactic to show me feel-good stories of the before and after of their animals being placed into homes successfully.  If I saw enough of those types of ads, I may change my feeling that the ASPCA kills more animals than they place, and they might actually open my wallet someday.  Or they could talk about community programs for low or no-cost spay/neuter and shots, and I’d be more inclined.  Or they could work hard to change apartment rental policies to not discriminate against pets, as they currently can’t against children without risking getting into trouble.  Anything but showing me horrible images of pathetic animals with sad eyes, that make me cringe and change the channel!

The rise of engagement advertising is simply this – marketers have to be mindful of the emotional reactions that they create, be authentic in creating positive emotional reactions, and make it easy for people to try their brand/product, thus (hopefully!) solidifying the positive emotion that makes them talk about their experience with others.  In Charting A Shift from Communications to Engagements it says, “The new marketing is about creating 360⁰ brand experiences, not messaging.  Consumers should buy into to your brand’s ideas, not just your product.  Instead of defining ‘Reasons To Believe’, you need to define ‘Reasons To Be.’ ”  Brands no longer are “contained in any communication or campaign, but rather is understood through its many touchpoints.”  Create enough positive touchpoints, and you create positive ROI.

Of course, creating multiple positive touchpoints requires a creative mind. You have to be willing to risk failure, and ideally allow a minimum of three months to test any marketing/advertising ideas to see what works.  It takes using your intuition, something women seem to utilize a little better than men, which explains to me why so many more women are in the marketing field than men.  No judgment here, just observing the facts. However, as stated in Reinventing the MBA: 4 Reasons to Mix Business With Design Thinking, “An over-reliance on intuition is every bit as limited as management by the numbers.”  Really it takes both intuition and analytical thinking to create excellent engagement marketing experiences.  In addition, also stated in the same article, it takes humility and team-building skills as well as a willingness to be “always ready to praise…colleagues and friends.”

One of the ways we can utilize the principles of engagement marketing is through the use of “tryvertising.”  From Trendwatching, tryvertising  is defined as “[incorporating]…’obvious’ activities like handing out product samples, and more subtle, integrated product placements that are part of an experience or solution. It’s everything from new-style sachets containing single servings of liquid products, to hotels partnering with luxury car makers to offer high end model test drives to guests during their stay…The challenge here has always been a certain lack of relevance: there’s no guarantee samples are tried out at the right time, in the right spot, and by the right target audience.  So what about more targeted, more relevant new-style tryvertising? Product placements that become part of the landscape, part of the real world where consumers hang out and certainly don’t mind trying something as long as it makes sense to them?”  Read the rest of Trendwatching‘s introduction to tryvertising, to know how Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Mini Cooper, IKEA, Nike, Starbucks, HP and other brands are using it.

Experiential marketing is another way of saying engagement marketing.  As an aside, you may want to join the Experiential Forum, as I did, to join in the conversation about the latest-and-greatest in experiential marketing.  In The Last Campaign: How Experiences Are Becoming the New Advertising it states, “65% of U.S. consumers report a digital experience changing their perception about a brand (either positively or negatively) and 97% of that group report that the same experience ultimately influenced whether or not they went on to purchase a product from that brand. In a nutshell, experience matters. A lot.  Of course, brands that were ‘born digital’ intuitively know this. Google and Amazon are pioneering experiential brands. That’s why Amazon continues to pour money into improving its customer service rather than run traditional advertising or marketing campaigns. As Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has said, ‘We are not great advertisers. So we start with customers, figure out what they want, and figure out how to get it to them.  Zappos…built its brand the same way, as has Facebook.”

Experience matters.  A lot.  If you have an amazing engagement campaign, but your retail staff aren’t plentiful enough, don’t know where anything is, or how to help you resolve your problem (Orchard Supply Hardware, this past weekend!), it matters.  A lot.  If your customer service reps don’t know how to handle the frustrated customer and act snotty, it matters.  A lot.  If your website makes it difficult to find what the person wants and see the price before they put the item in a digital basket, it matters.  A lot.  As marketers, we often have to step back, look at the entire process and be critical of how it works through the eyes of the customer.  It matters.  A lot.

Lastly, I want to talk about guerrilla marketing, which is also a form of experiential or engagement marketing.  The term guerrilla marketing has become a catch-all phrase for non-traditional marketing, but it really is its own form of disruptive marketing and we have opportunity as marketers to bring it into the world of digital media that we are now in.  As stated in Guerrilla Marketing Goes Tweet, “People are focused on social media; they’re walking around with their smartphones and updating their statuses and tweeting. The more we give people opportunities to do that, the more exciting it is, such as creating art at an event where people can save it to their profiles…The more we can incorporate social technology into real-life events, the more people get excited about it.”

Marketers should be on the prowl to incorporate promotion of art into their work.  After all, art creates positive emotion, which begets action.  Not to mention, it helps those who are less business and more creative-minded earn a living.  To read more about guerrilla marketing tactics that companies are now using, I recommend the blogs Guerrilla Gorilla and Guerrilla Communication Blog.  Google “guerrilla marketing” and you are sure to find much more.

I hope this post helped your thinking about creating positive emotional and experiential marketing tactics, resulting in the positive ROI you are looking for.

  1. November 30th, 2009 at 03:49 | #1

    Interesting stuff – we’e about to launch the Customer Engagement Club and we are looking for appropriate psost such as this for our blogs and tweets section we have a hlding page http://www.customerengagementclub.com and launch in the New Year – be good to hear from you

  2. Brad Nimmons
    November 30th, 2009 at 06:10 | #2

    Feel the same way about the McLachlan song on the “save the animals” commercial. Nice piece otherwise.

  3. November 30th, 2009 at 12:27 | #3

    @Steve Hurst

    Hi, Steve. I’ll check out your site and be in touch.


  4. November 30th, 2009 at 15:18 | #4

    I love how you bring the ‘humanness’ back into the marketing message. Very well written with great examples. Thank you!

  5. Khan
    March 1st, 2010 at 11:01 | #5

    Nice post ! liked the originality of the author. Learnt a lot. A lot !

  1. June 20th, 2010 at 18:04 | #1

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