Brand Engagement

Engagement = Business – Where the Rubber Meets the Road

burnoutIf you still doubt how the emerging field of engagement is affecting traditional marketing, listen to this.

One of the companies involved with the Enterprise Engagement Alliance is a long-standing integrated marketing agency that moved away from focusing solely on meetings and incentives several years ago to provide a more broad-based, solutions-oriented performance improvement services. As a result, it was a natural for the company to embrace “enterprise engagement,” and the firm, which I cannot name here, was one of our first founding sponsors and remains actively involved.

The president told me an interesting story of interest to anyone in marketing and especially in the traditional “full-service” incentive business. I have had to disguise both the name of his company, the entities involved, and even the specific type of program,  because all of the parties, and this program, are well-known in the industry. That said, I personally witnessed much of what he shared with me, so this is essentially first-hand information.

His company received an RFP from a leading consumer products manufacture for its traditional incentive and relationship-building strategy for a large audience of independent salespeople.

Ordinarily, the president of the company I cannot name, told me they would not respond to blind RFPs, but this time decided to use it as a test of their new emphasis on Enterprise Engagement. From the start, they accessed EEA research and other resources to help create their proposal, demonstrating how the organization would apply a zero-based analysis to the potential client’s performance opportunities and challenges, and would bring to bare whatever type of solution, from mission and strategy development, training, and communications, to rewards and recognition, and measurement to help the organization achieve its goals.  Their proposal emphasized the organization’s focus on engagement.

Not only did this company make the first cut, but after months more of work, including multiple presentations and an office visit, it won the business, which, to my understanding, is a multi-million dollar engagement. Perhaps the most gratifying part of the story to me:  the client now uses “engagement” to describe the company’s new program, tossing out the old terminology.

This company is overjoyed not only because they won such a prestigious piece of business from such a prestigious competitor, but for another reason; it shows that organizations can’t fake Enterprise Engagement. To deliver these services, organizations have to have a clear grasp of all of the key elements that go into engagement, not only incentives, rewards, and meetings. You can’t just add a few lines to your web site claiming to be in engagement.

Since ad agencies have little clue about sales, channel, employee or even customer engagement (beyond advertising), there is a significant opportunity for traditional incentive companies that should have already mastered a lot of the tools of engagement. In fact, we see more and more incentive companies using “engagement” on their web sites, but are surprised by how few are demonstrating any clear effort to train their sales, marketing, and management on what it really takes to provide engagement services.  We continue to still hear the same platitudes that amount to implying that “incentives” are the solution to everything.

In one short year, companies like our friend’s have proven that engagement and its opportunities are for real, and are changing the competitive landscape. As usual, it will probably take years before traditional players fully awaken to the opportunity. The only question is how many will step up to profit from the “early to market” advantage?

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