By Jack Miles, Northstar
Engagement has several definitions. As I scrolled through them, I had to decide which one to go with for this article. In the end I went for:
“A fight or battle between armed forces”
This initially seems strange given this is an article about insights marketing! However, when some of the listed synonyms of this definition are ‘conflict’ and ‘struggle’ this definition starts to seem more relevant. The reason it suddenly becomes relevant is, as anyone involved in the practice of insights marketing will attest, engaging insights clients/prospects with our marketing activity is hard!
Insight clients are bombarded with agency messages and offers, the vast majority of which they choose not to engage with. How can insights marketers best win the battle of engagement? Here are seven battlefield tips:
1. Use the CIA (Client Interrogation Activity)
How do we best engage with clients/prospects? Tough question. I don’t know the answer. However, your clients/prospects do. So ask them. Before trying to engage with your audience in any way, try to find out what works. Read the relevant industry press, watch the appropriate client-side panels and ask people why they approached your agency. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be ready to enter the engagement battle based on intelligence, not just gut instinct.
2. Friendly Fire
One of the most dangerous things an insight marketer can do is to seek to engage with their audience without looking internally for feedback. Researchers are a tough crowd to market to – researching marketing makes them both extremely savvy and, dare I say it, cautious in allowing them to be drawn in. Before trying to engage with clients, speak to researchers in your own organisation to see how they interpret your attempts to engage. If it doesn’t pass the internal test, think about refining the execution before you externalise it.
3. The Information Army
Too often insights marketers try to garner engagement with an onslaught of email and social campaigns. By doing so, we often forget what is at the core of our industry – information.
When we share valuable information with our clients outside of a project, we are providing them with a learning experience. If we believe psychological theory, the process of learning will release dopamine – also known as the brain’s save button – in our client’s brains. The provider of this experience is therefore more likely to be remembered than the email strike that landed in the client’s mailbox earlier that morning.
4. Dad’s Army over Deer Hunter
Getting clients/prospects to engage with our marketing may be a battle, but there is no need to take it so seriously. Often light humoured marketing techniques are likely to standout in the insights marketing lexicon that often contains too much corporate jargon and hyperbole. For example, if two research based events are taking place, one which lists an “illuminating brand growth exploration journey” or the other that starts off playing peppermint tennis while listening to Led Zappilin which sounds more intriguing? You tell me, Pike.
5. Avoid An Anglo-Zanzibar War
The Anglo-Zanzibar war lasted 38 minutes. Suffice to say it has little public awareness. If you want to achieve engagement in insights marketing you can learn from this. Effectively engaging insight clients/prospects can be a long and drawn out process. Don’t expect to release one piece of marketing material and expect instant engagement. In fact, don’t expect to receive any engagement at all sometimes. Successful and long standing engagement comes from consistent activity over a prolonged period of time. The reason is, our clients/prospects are bombarded with marketing messages and it is likely going to take time for yours to cut through the clutter to be engaged with.
6. Camouflage Kills
Blending into the background may preserve lives on the battlefield, but in the world of insights marketing, it is fatal for your engagement. When trying to engage clients/prospects avoid clichés and buzzwords. Using them doesn’t make you on-trend, it makes you samey and samey doesn’t win the attention of audiences. Find out what is truly unique about what you do and speak about it. Everyone knows that ‘actionable insight’, ‘big data’ et al are important so there’s no point in trying to use these terms to engage with clients/prospects.
7. Air, Land & Sea
Much like many of the great wars have been fought on several fronts, we need a multi-pronged approach to truly win the engagement battle. Simply doing PR, thought leadership, awards and conference talking as solo exploits is not enough. You need to do it in an integrated way where your PR communicates your award wins and you present your thought leadership at conferences. Simply put, fighting the engagement battle on all terrains makes you more likely to win it.