Archive for September, 2014


DATE: September 16th, 2014

Note: this article focuses on “customer engagement.” If you are marketing leader in a non-profit, please replace “customer” with the word “donor”; “company” with “organization”; “Product” with “cause”.

At one time, engaged meant that you have made a promise or commitment to marry someone — a serious life-time thing.

I have been counting the number of times I have said, wrote or heard the word “engaged” or “engagement” in the past 10 days. 49,587 times. My little clicker was hot.

Ok, I didn’t really count.

But I find myself saying it all the time. It’s like when I was doing my grad studies and every prof, when they didn’t know how to respond to a quirky critical theory from a student, responded with: “That’s reductive.” After a while, even though I was completely familiar with the word “reductive”, I had no idea what it meant.

I’m beginning to think the words engaged and engagement are reductive.

Here’s the thing.

Studies show that customers who are engaged in a brand are 27% more likely to remain loyal to that brand. Everyone uses Apple customers – but they’re a unique breed of cultish followers, so let’s go somewhere else. (Just for the record, Apple has a brilliant marketing and brand team that understands their customers. Which is why customers stand in line for 3 days to buy a phone that does almost the same thing as the phone in their pocket does, but now is thinner. Oh, and you will be able to buy a matching watch).

Let’s look at Lululemon. On Friday, September 5, 2014 the Star printed reported that Americans are falling out of love with the traditional blue jean. Hard to believe after 130 years Americans are setting aside Levi’s for stretch yoga pants. But sales fell 6% this year – for the first time in the history of blue jeans. And Lululemon? In spite of struggling through mega controversy this past year, the company was ere given the thumbs up from their stockholders.

This is about brand.

Lululemon is relevant and authentic in the eyes of the consumer. So even though they have had a glitch in their brand platform, they have weathered it. Why? Their customers are engaged with the product.

My struggle is the millions of companies talk about customer engagement. But their speech patterns are locked into internal idioms. More seriously, their customer service models are built on the recommendation of process developers, not the people who are looking for assistance.

Why is that?

Here’s the thing. The first thing the marketing team HAS to do is to talk to their customers. In fact, they should be a customer – not because they work there, but because they LOVE the product. Standing in the shoes of your customer is not always easy. The customer may not even notice the intelligent strategic marketing campaign or understand how the tagline intersects with the overall brand content. No… there is something emotional that connects with the customer.

And it’s the marketing team’s job to find out.

Engagement has become crazy and complex…especially in a world driven by distracting interruptions.