I’m a fan of travelling in style, so the concept of ‘matching luggage’ appealed when marketers first responded to channel proliferation with a drive to integrate their communications by using the same look and feel. Of course fashions change, and as people learnt more about how digital channels worked, marketing evolved to integrating around an idea – so there was still a co-ordination of luggage, but it didn’t all have to be the same colour.

Today, as more brands are recognising that a meaningful customer experience is the key to delivering growth, communications must move on again. (NB ‘customer’ is used to define the brand’s target: consumer, customer, expert etc).

Do your communications still look like matching luggage?

Evolving from just broadcasting a message via mass media to thinking about how to drive awareness, engage the customer and invite participation is a first step.  This isn’t about having a separate ‘digital engagement’ plan – but ensuring digital communications and experiences are woven into the plan from its inception. A further step is to create a mutually beneficial relationship with customers, which evolves and develops as the customer moves through their ‘journey’.  To deliver this successfully, the focus must switch from customercommunications to customer engagement, and the capability agenda must switch to support this.

Companies like Lego, P&G, Lafarge and Novartis are now seeing customer engagement as key to delivering customer centred growth.

  • Lego uses co-creation (the Adult Fans of Lego) to develop new product ideas, asking other fans to vote for ideas that should be progressed and then working with the fan who initiated the idea to develop the marketing campaign and communications.  This approach forms the basis for their upcoming Exosuit launch.
  • P&G’s recent ‘Like a girl’ campaign has given Always a compelling brand purpose and employs a new way of approaching the Feminine Care category.  With this, the brand is creating conversation and engagement beyond its user group.
  • Lafarge cement has positioned itself as its customers’ ally in delivering sustainability objectives and uses a range of connection points to provide facts to their customers which they can then utilise in their communications.
  • Pharma companies like Novartis are recognising that their customers are now using a range of channels to source information.  With ‘The Sight Experience’, Novartis has used Facebook to engage customers with a personalised experience of how poor sights feels for their patients.

At Brand Learning, we have developed 4 principles for customer engagement:

  • It must be mutually beneficial
  • The customer needs to have a key role
  • Content is the cornerstone; essential in driving the customer experience and for the health of the brand
  • Ongoing measurement and optimisation is critical

We will explore these further over the next few weeks, in our 3-part series on this critical aspect of customer-centred capabilities.

This blog is part one of a three part series. In the next part you can find out Do you have the capabilities to make customer engagement mutually beneficial?

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This post is by Katherine Theobald, Client Capability Director at Brand Learning