As consumers, we feel the need to engage with our friends, families, communities and work organizations; not with marketers or brands. We may develop brand loyalty – a concept that is quickly fading as people find more choices for themselves – but as consumers we don’t always make it a point to engage with the CEO of a company to getter a better sense of how they or their companies are doing.
How do we stand apart from ourselves? We’ve profiled the consumer growing with the cutting edge of technology over and over: curators, multi-media savvy individuals who carry the information age in their pockets. The flip side of the jargon-laden consumer? Attention spans are growing shorter and shorter with every new product innovation.
There are no surprises there, but the question that keeps rebounding is “how do we stand apart?” The post is about increasing consumer engagement, and the answer to the question contains part of the solution. Mainly because at the end of the day, we all need more than a shiny gimmick to make ourselves stand apart.
The answer to increasing consumer engagement isn’t just soliciting as many “Likes”, re-tweets, followers or “+1’s” as possible. Honestly, how many of us flock to posts by brands that have over a 100 comments on them? Since comments are sometimes lost in a sea of voices wanting to be heard, how deeply is that brand really engaged with its audience?
Which brings us to the real issue at hand. Marketers tend to assume that by sending out content or messages through social or traditional media, they’ll be able to attract a following or an audience that stays involved with the company beyond brand loyalty. Consumer engagement involves more than a one sided approach entailing an overdose of media or products.
How do we stand apart? To make a marketing program truly consumer-centric, we begin by asking them what they want. It sounds simple enough, but the simplest ideas are sometimes the most difficult to implement. The idea here is to make the customer feel valued.
There is no right formula, of course, but the key to increasing consumer interest lies in demonstrating a genuine interest in their needs; to approach them to understand who they are and how our services fit into their needs in the best way possible. The channels and the tools we use to garner and measure feedback are just a nice by-product of the process.