Tuesday, July 22, 2008

So what if I don't want to engage?

The loyalty buzz phrase of the moment seems to be “engagement marketing”. It a phrase that’s been around for several years, but its meaning seems to have morphed from engaging customers with the brand via dialogue and personalized communications, to inviting customers to actively participate with the brand, via interactive blogs, viral video contests and social networking sites.

Either way, the question I’ve been pondering is, what if I’m a loyal customer and I don’t want to interact with the brand? The fact is for every rabid Apple, Xbox and Toyota Prius customer, there are other customers that just want to be left alone to enjoy their product or service in peace. And for low involvement categories (think auto insurance) there may be few to zero customers who want to actively engage with you.

The point is, in the rush for companies to launch a corporate blog, put a page up on MySpace or release a new-fangled widget, it would be a mistake to forget the basics--the “blocking and tackling” that should be a part of every loyalty or customer retention program.

During my days as Creative Director at the now defunct Frequency Marketing, it was drilled into us that every loyalty program was about rewards and recognition. Rewards were the tangible stuff, the free flights, etcetera. But equally important, was the recognition—the intangible “thank you” messages and soft benefits like invitations to VIP customer-only events that showed your best customers you truly cared.

So in the rush to jump onto the Web 2.0 bandwagon, let’s not forget the basics. It’s still far more effective to send a personalized, relevant e-mail to a best customer than a come-on to become a Facebook friend. In loyalty, as in life, it’s the little things that matter most.

Tom Rapsas, Associate Creative Director, MRM Worldwide, trapsas@mrmgillespie.com


  1. Hi there,
    Interesting question. I've asked that same question some time ago
    see Anatomy of a brand purchase

    The central thesis is that a brand will achieve greater market success when it comes to recognize and respond to one of 4 basic types of (economic/Wallet, rational/Mind, emotional/Heart, mature/Life) relationships that its customers can have with the brand. These relationship characteristics define what elements of the brand value chain they will be more receptive to and the kind of ‘psychological’ language that marketers should be using when communicating with those brand customers.

    you might wish to pop over for a read


  2. Thanks Miro, just had a chance to pop over to your site. Some interesting (and deep!) reading. I know of another firm here in the US venturing into the same space using "psychological profiling" to generate different creative/copy versions. Me, I've always been a "show me the data!" guy.

  3. Tom
    thank you for stopping by the blog
    and the kind comment

    I agree - I much prefer seeing data
    but having data or not does not preclude moving forward. In fact it clarifies things regardless of the profile because it seeks to balance off the short and long term buying dynamics as codified in my (CEO) Communication, Experience and Overture event system and at its very core seeks to create the foundation for achieving the 'loyalty' 'relationship'*
    marketers/ad agencies seek out.

    *(much as I hate the misuse and overuse of the words)


  4. Miro,

    For a company now operating in a similar space, see www.bluepollen.com