Consumer Engagement: The New Rules Are Here

Thomson DawsonMay 23, 20123053 min

Consumer Engagement: The New Rules Are Here

As a marketer you invest precious resources (time, money and talent) toward achieving your business goals – namely getting people to engage with your brand and creating more revenue! The rules have changed and many marketers are being left behind.

What’s interesting is most of the tactics marketers employ today are no longer working like they used to, yet executives keep demanding more ROI. Surely by now we can all agree the marketing game has radically changed and so should the obsessive expectations about marketing ROI. Marketing is no longer about creating demand measured in sales, but building relationships measured in trust. The more important and transcendent ROI we need to be measuring is the quality of lasting relationships rather than the quantity of consumptive sales.

At best, today’s consumers ignore marketing, worse they loathe it.

This should be no big surprise to anyone charged with building the value of a brand. Consumers are inundated with over 3,000 marketing messages a day. Despite this, marketers keep churning out advertising nobody cares about.  But the real problem isn’t that people abhor advertising, or that tons of money is wasted on marketing that is poorly targeted, ineffective, and just plain annoying. The real issue is consumers have changed!

Consumers now have the power to determine and control what they allow into their heads.

Technology has finally shifted the power from the marketer to the consumer. Now consumers have the tools to opt-out and bar any further interruptions from marketers.  There’s no going back to the old ways of doing things. Consumers now enjoy the ability to consume only the content they want and enjoy (sans the embedded marketing messages) and frequently use these same new tools to boycott or disparage any brand they find lacking in their trust.

Your marketing must add real value to people’s life experience, or your brand will be doomed to the slush pile.

The most effective way to create relationships of trust with people is to create marketing that, in and of itself, has intrinsic value beyond the sale of anything. Over the long haul, building trust with people is much harder than creating a sale, and much easier to lose. Trust is abstract, soft and squishy, while sales are hard and definitive. Both are measurable, but trust always trumps a quick buck.  In my view, building trust is a much more sacred activity than the telling and selling tactics that comprise the bulk of marketing today.

The cornerstone of The Blake Project’s brand consulting work is based on the premise that consumer engagement with a brand must be anchored in experiences people really care about. How meaningful people find your value proposition, and the way in which it serves them emotionally, determines their willingness to buy your goods, and share this value with others. This means your marketing must do the following:

-Invite your brand’s participation within the tribe of like minded enthusiasts.

-Add something of value to the quality of people’s lives through knowledge sharing, entertaining or   problem solving–without it involving a sale.

-Be centered in service and the well-being of the tribe.

-Be meaningful to the right people in tangible ways.

To accomplish this you will need to know what is really important to people and what high level needs remain unfulfilled within the context of their larger lives. In other words, your marketing must provide a framework for people to have engaging experiences, richer connections with others, and help them to make a positive impact on the world at large.

To put it simply – you have to share the love and meet higher emotional needs.

Enlightened marketers know consumer’s basic needs are already satisfied though products and services they currently buy. Not only must your marketing be built into your product offerings, but transcend them as well.

The ROI on building a more meaningful value proposition.

To be invited to the conversation your customers really care about, your marketing must first contribute something of intrinsic value to them. When you do, the formula for consumer engagement and ROI on your marketing initiatives will look something like this:

A value monopoly = more loyalty = higher prices = increased profits = more opportunity to grow greater value in your brand = may the circle be unbroken.

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Thomson Dawson


  • Jan Bond

    May 24, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Wow. Another beautifully written and accurate assessment of our time as marketers. I am quietly shouting “YES! That’s right!”

    I am new to your blog but reading it has quickly become my ritual as I enjoy my first cup of coffee each morning. Thank you.

  • LJ Jones

    May 24, 2012 at 11:04 am

    Because the executives (the marketer’s boss) measures the marketer by their ROI, the marketer continues to deliver things that can be measured in ROI. It may not be the most effective way to reach the consumer audience, but it is an effective way to keep your boss happy and therefore keep your job. Because your reports look good. It often feels like marketers are doing the marketing that keeps the person looking over their shoulder happy, and not the marketing that reaches the consumer best. Until the executives change how they think about the relationship with the consumer, it will be difficult to actually change rules of engagement and actually engage the audience.

  • Emily Foshee

    October 19, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    You’re absolutely right! Consumers DO have the power to decide what gets into their heads, and this is where content marketing, done the right way, is so critical. The content a business produces must meet the consumer’s needs no matter where he is in the buying cycle.

  • team-abr

    July 14, 2014 at 3:28 am

    Completely agree with you. Many of the successful brands of today had created an exceptional customer perceived value and they compete for emotion as it stays connected with the customers’ heart instead of the head.

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