The new season of Mad Men starts soon, where we get to see Don, Peggy and the team once again tell consumers a brand story via advertising (in print, and perhaps even on TV!) that they expect will influence behavior.
But like secretaries and 3 martini lunches, we in brand marketing know that those days are long gone.Â We want more that just a captive listening audience. We want â€śengagement.â€ť Any one who has responsibility for growing a brand needs to not just get potential customers to see their messages, but for them to â€śengageâ€ť with their product or brand. Â And marketers are actively tapping into digital media to make this happen.Â But we sense that itâ€™s time to reconsider how we think about â€śengagementâ€ť.
In the early days of digital marketing, it was all about the click, and businesses were grown from tracking that all-powerful click. Â Even more recently, marketers are defining engagement as the number of â€śLikesâ€ť a brand can get on Facebook. Â Â But really, itâ€™s still just a click, and like many clicks, there is no â€śthereâ€ť there after the Like. Â Â Do I know any more about a brand when I click or Like?Â Â Am I more likely to buy or use that brand? Â Do I care more about that brand than I did before? The answer to these questions is an unenthusiastic maybe.
Just like many of us need more than one coffee date to bond with another person, we need more than one click or Like to commit to a brand. Â As marketers, we need to tell (and build) a brand story over time.
Of course one way to have these ongoing interactions is through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, all of which bring customers and brands closer. Â But smart marketers have always known that commitment is a journey, not a click. Â I think the marketing community at large is just starting to come around to the idea that we simply canâ€™t think about marketing as digital and traditional, because that first response (the impression, the click, or the Like) isn’t enough – we need to look beyond that response. Â Itâ€™s about creating content that builds a brand’s story across all platforms, in the real world and the digital world.
This of course is a blinding glimpse of the obvious â€“ but is surprisingly difficult to execute in the real world.Â Why? Because doing it involves marketers across all different functions who just aren’t used to playing well with each other. Â Â Building a compelling and cohesive cross-platform content strategy is organizationally challenged â€“ different platforms, different lead times, different agencies, different approval processes.Â Itâ€™s hard but itâ€™s critical to get right.Â And it means marketers canâ€™t think in media or platform silos (TV, radio, banner, video, â€¦.) but have to think of how to create engagement across platforms â€“ exactly how their customers interact with the world.
One example we most admire right now comes from an unlikely source – packaged goods. Â We recently spoke with the brand manager of Reynolds (yup, the aluminum foil) in a marketer discussion and were impressed by how fully he has embraced the potential of engagement.Â Heâ€™s not thinking about how to explain why one food-wrapping foil is better than another â€“ instead, he is working to tell his brand story through the food that Reynolds wraps, and the role it plays in sharing meals, family time, great events, and fun. Â Reynolds is telling the story of their brand in a way that their customers will want to follow over time. Â They are creating real engagement â€“ with a product that is anything but what weâ€™d traditionally think of as engaging.
The brands that don’t get it will still talk at us, and do it in a disjointed way. One group will talk to the brand agency about the big TV idea, another will plan the digital campaign, another will do something in â€śsocial mediaâ€ť, and the PR team might even get in on the action. They are creating a lot of impressions (and even those clicks), but not engagement.Â What can you do in 2013 to plan and activate a cross-platform approach that will truly create engagement?
Deirdre Davi, Sterling Strategy