Brand Engagement

Engagement: Let’s Put the Horse Before the Cart

cartbeforehorseIt seems that every part of the marketing world is using term “engagement,” inadvertently raising the ugly issue of silos in business.

Advertising agencies talk about engagement in reference to customer response to their campaigns; the social media and gamification people talk about engagement in terms of participant involvement; video content providers talk about engagement in terms of time spent with or content shared with friends and colleagues; HR people primarily link engagement to employee retention. A recent New York Time article, Mixing Marketing With Social Games and Extreme Sports, referred to the phenomenon as engagement marketing.

The marketing world is missing the point.

Engagement isn’t just about fun and games, it’s about identifying a brand promise that has meaning to a marketplace, consistently fulfilling it, and identifying new needs or desires to be fulfilled in the future. Games, mobile apps, viral videos, etc. are distractions unless they fundamentally support the unique selling proposition of the product or service in a way that adds value to the relevant audience – be it customer, channel partner, sales/nonsales employee, vendor, or local or industry community.

The growing number of useful technology tools such as gamification, collaboration, and social networking, can help promote learning, innovation, and a sense of community, but they are no more than a means to an end, like media is to advertising. At the end of the day, customer loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising come from delivering on a brand promise, and that can only be done by people, not games or social networking platforms.

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