Many of us can remember life before Netflix, when TV watchers were forced to sit through commercials.
Many of us can also remember life before social media where the only “twitter” one had to worry about was a bird, and the only “book of faces” was a photo album.
What happened to those days?
In short, the Internet happened.
In this day and age, customers have a lot more control over the type and timing of their advertisements they see. If a customer doesn’t want to see your pop-up ad, they can close it.
If that customer doesn’t want your email newsletter, they can unsubscribe in seconds. If they want to watch their movie with or without interruptions, they can use DVR.
In just about every avenue where marketing exists, customers are finding ways to dodge, duck, and weave from advertisements and promotions.
How do businesses get customers in an environment like this?
More Content and More Relationships Aren’t the Solution
The standard answer in marketing has been to focus on targeting specific customers with a specific set of interests (niche) and building a relationship with them. Businesses were advised to build that relationship with information, quality, and a unique branding point.
But, is this method working? Why do businesses have to focus only on a small subset of customers to win?
Grant Leboff (@grantleboff), marketing specialist and writer of “Stickier Marketing: How to Win Customers in a Digital Age” believes that we are entering a new paradigm of marketing, a concept he calls customer engagement marketing.
Customer-Engagement Build Customer Channels, Relationship Marketing Build Relationships
Marketers, unless they have big bank accounts, have moved away from the “one to many” marketing model. In that scenario, one business advertises to the masses through tightly controlled channels and distribution. The problem Leboff points out with this model, is that it the Internet has disrupted the model.
In response, most marketers have tended to go with transactional and relationship marketing.
Transactional and relationship marketing do a better job of trying to reach the customer in a more targeted manner. In transactional marketing, the focus is on getting customers to do something (click on your link, follow your social media accounts, etc.). In relationship marketing, the focus is on creating relationships that lead to transactions. This is the level of marketing for most businesses.
In “Stickier Marketing,” Leboff suggests that these two models, transactional and relationship marketing are good, but don’t go far enough. Businesses are still forced to chase customers down for the sale.
The solution, according to Leboff, is customer engagement marketing.
The Deeper Issue: More Boring Content and More Connections Aren’t the Solution
As described in “Stickier Marketing,” customer engagement marketing focuses on customers finding your business instead of businesses chasing the customer.
Businesses focus on positioning themselves as leaders in specific areas that have an established customer need or want. It involves deeply understanding what their customers want and needs, which isn’t easy to do. Customer engagement marketing shifts the focus of marketing from screaming about your product or service’s benefits to telling a story that invites your potential customers to join in.
Customer engagement marketing takes a lot more work than traditional marketing and advertising. It goes beyond creating a Facebook page or blog. It involves experimentation and constant refinement to get right.
The reward, though, is the ability to get leads that are more engaged and more willing to spread your message. Customers become involved with the business at the level that suits them rather than being turned off by constant calls to listen to another advertising message.
Is Customer Engagement Marketing Worth It?
Is crafting a customer engagement strategy worth it? After all, “engagement” is already a marketing buzzword that has used ad nauseam. The content engagement strategy in “Stickier Marketing,” does present a new way of looking at marketing as narrative, compared to a megaphone.
This, however, is an issue already mentioned in other marketing books. Plenty of other marketers advise businesses to build a customer narrative and allow customers to co-create a brand experience.
The difference in Leboff’s argument is that it focuses on a more generalized target. Instead of focusing on a specific niche, “Stickier Marketing” advises marketers to focus on reaching everyone within a specific context.
Using an analogy, customer engagement marketing is like creating a themed birthday party for everyone. Other marketers would create a birthday party for a specific guest list.
That model may work, but “Stickier Marketing” lacks the definition to pull it off. There are plenty of recommendations and tips but no comprehensive guide to putting it all together. More attention needs to be given on how businesses can be distinct.
The narrative is a first step, but creating a compelling narrative that consistently gets customers is beyond the scope of this book.
In a nutshell, the book is going in the right direction, but the steps have to be laid out better. This book was based on a electronic copy provided for reviewing purposes.