Engaging with your base can be a pretty scary proposition. Companies and politicians have egos. It’s difficult to hear from consumers or constituents they believe you are wrong. Engagement with the base leaves you wide open to hearing just how wrong the audience thinks you are. That’s really scary to those with big egos.
Obviously, marketing your business or to your constituency has changed a lot over the past few decades. It’s changed even faster over the past 20+ years where in no longer is it just branding and messaging a company, politician or government agency has to worry about. Marketing strategies now need to contain an element of engagement.
Because consumers or constituents are demanding it. No longer can companies, agencies, politicians or governmental authorities afford to just push a message and hope for the best. The death knell for push messaging marketing rang long ago.
Forget About Control
Think about the ‘spin’ masters of old and even now. Tightly controlled campaigns and messages that attempt to mitigate any perceived “bad” images in today’s world, eventually run awry. Politicians especially are known for this, roping off the press, only allowing for certain questions to be asked, controlling their ‘town meeting’ audiences. Those who try to control this image of a company or a person, are in reality, living in a dreamworld. The ticking time bomb of engagement that’s being demanded by consumers and constituents will loosen that tight grip of image control.
Just take a look at everything going on today or even the last year. VW’s image tanked because of falsified reports on EPA tests, politicians who ‘rope’ off the press end up in the hot seat, the VA blamed for hundreds if not thousands of our war veterans’ deaths and suffering after enough engagement from family members exposing the issues …. these instances and many more all involved some level of engagement with a ‘base’. In all of these instances, the company, politician and government agency chose to either ignore or try and ‘control’ the engagement factor and it backfired on them with both financial and image/brand damaging consequences.
Organic Consumer Engagement
When you, as a leader of your company, agency or own agenda, realize the value of true, what I will coin as ‘organic consumer engagement’, i.e. just letting the engagement happen and not trying to lead or control the engagement, you unlock a wealth of marketing potential that cannot be realized by other means. It’s much than counting likes and shares.
- Engagement influences the conversations being had.
- Conversations influence perceptions.
- Perceptions influence actions.
- Actions influence your bottom line.
Rather than believing you can control these conversations, its time to strategically plan how you become part of the conversations. Figure out just how much value it is to develop organic engagement opportunities wherein you gain feedback, insight, and influence. When you become part of a process, you have greater involvement, and greater influence because that engagement indicates you value something much more. You value the individuals you engage with and don’t just consider them a ‘pawn’ in achieving your bottom line..
So, have you figured out, what what consumer or citizen engagement means to you? Isn’t about time you started?