Engagement Marketing

Budweiser-Puppy-Love-Image

Most people think of marketing as a one-way street – the company uses whatever medium(s) it can to advertise produce, new deals and reach out to the slice of the population it is trying to interest, and that is that. The prospects are entirely passive in this view of marketing, simply existing to have products and services hawked to them while the marketing team are the active participants.

Engagement marketing, also known as experiential marketing, event marketing, live marketing or participation marketing, is different in that it actively invites ‘audience participation’ – as it were – and offers a situation where prospects are in the position of making the first move when it comes to becoming customers of a specific brand, thus beginning the process of building a relationship with the brand in question.

Rather than focusing on advertising and selling a product or service, a company which is using engagement marketing will use a variety of techniques to bring prospects and customers closer to the brand as a whole, which would hopefully begin to build a relationship between the two, and potential brand loyalty in the future. The use of what I will call ‘give-and-take’ marketing is key here: inviting people to subscribe to newsletters; having a blog which customers can comment on and discuss new developments with the company and with each other; and engaging with social marketing for the same purpose are all key elements of creating an environment where prospects and customers feel like they are developing an attachment to a specific company.

There could be parallels drawn between this type of marketing and content marketing, since they both leave behind elements of traditional marketing in an attempt to bring customers to their brand via a focus on the customer themselves, rather than the product or service which is the drive behind the marketing campaign. The difference between these two styles of marketing is that content marketing does at least make reference to the product it is marketing, however obliquely (as seen in the Ford Mustang ad), while engagement marketing often leaves the product out of its advertising campaigns altogether in favour of beginning the engagement with prospects and customers for which it is named.

To explain engagement marketing in greater depth, I will be looking at the advertising campaigns of Volkswagen and Budweiser respectively and discussing the approaches they take to engaging potential customers with their brand.

In 2012, Volkswagen, to advertise their new range, came out with an advert featuring a little boy dressed up as Darth Vader attempting to use the Force on various household objects and pets. None of his attempts to use the Force work – he can’t even persuade the family dog to stand up – until his father comes home in the new Volkswagen Passat! It is revealed quickly that the flashing of the car lights was down to the boy’s father locking the doors, but clearly mini-Darth believes that he has control over the Force!

Note that the actual product does not make an appearance until almost half way through the advert – the marketing strategy, following engagement marketing rules, is focusing on creating a rapport with prospects who are looking to buy a car and existing customers who have bought Volkswagens in the past. Focusing on the young, professional looking couple with their adorable mini-Darth is a way of engaging with and drawing in that particular market is a marked contrast to the normal way of marketing\describing cars in terms of their speed and new features, which may have the potential to turn away prospects looking for a family car.

A key aspect of engagement marketing is leaving prospects in a position where the final decision on whether or not to engage with the services and products on offer is in their hands, and that is where this advert fits in very neatly. The presence of the family lays down the suggestion that people who fit this demographic may want to invest in the type of car being advertised, as well as using the situation to subtly highlight that it is quite a good family car.

This aspect of engagement marketing is also seen in the 2014 advert for Budweiser, featuring a puppy and some Clydesdales, where the underlying theme is not to let go of something (in this case beer, as represented by the puppy) that you love.

This advert is interesting because the product which is ostensibly being advertised is not present at all, or (to take another point of view), is only present by proxy: the Clydesdales. This is engagement marketing to the max, since it relies entirely on people’s interpretations of what the advert is actually trying to say. This can backfire, as seen by one commenter on the Youtube thread who assumed that the advert was about Labrador adoption, but the comments themselves prove that the engagement marketing style used is working, since they are interacting with each other.

One again, the style of this advert leaves the ultimate decision up to the customer, while taking various steps towards making their brand memorable – the popular song, ensuring that people would think of the advert every time they heard it, and the cuteness of the interactions between puppy and horse which would make people smile when they remembered it.

Cross-Channel Marketing

burberry

I’ve already talked about the need for marketing to change in the changing climate that is the digital age – cross-channel marketing is one more aspect of that change in practice, with businesses making use of a variety of marketing channels at the same time for a more wide-ranging effect.

According to wordstream.com, the most common technological pairings for this kind of marketing are:

Computer / Mobile

TV / Mobile

Computer / TV

Radio / Mobile

Computer / Radio

Of course, these pairings don’t remain static – a business may use a computer/mobile pairing during normal business hours, and then switch to TV/mobile in the evening to be able to hold onto their target demographic as they move from work mode to relaxation mode.

Cross-channel marketing is increasingly becoming more and more digitalised, particularly with the proliferation of social networking site which allow for interaction between staff and customers in real-time, but there is still a place for offline marketing, as is shown by the continued use of order catalogues by retailers such as Victoria’s Secret (which sends 375 million catalogues out per year) and strategically placed advertising posters and billboards as used by Starbucks in order to advertise their new and seasonal products.

Burberry is perhaps the best example of digital marketing available to us at the moment – as well as the main website, Burberry has profiles on nearly every social networking platform that exists, from Facebook to Pinterest, as a means of expanding its customer base and service – the Twitter account for Burberry displays the handle for customer service and tells customers that they can contact them for twenty four hour service.

As well as offering more ways for customers to contact them, social networking platforms also offer various retailers such as Burberry, Victoria’s Secret and Starbucks the ability to show off their new products using the picture features in those platforms.

Victoria’s Secret is a lot like Burberry – it has a main website, various social networking platforms such as Facebook and Instagram with which to interact with customers and disseminate information about sales, new lines, etc. It also has a dedicated Youtube channel, where it stores all the advertising videos for its latest designs along with interviews with the models.

The use of the Youtube channel is where Victoria’s Secret differs in its marketing approach to Burberry – where Burberry mainly uses its channel to promote its clothing line and post videos of events that customers may be interested in and market themselves through those mediums, Victoria’s Secret seems to use the channel as a means to market a lifestyle as portrayed by the models – customers who buy and wear Victoria’s Secret may be seen as so sexy and beautiful that they too may become famous models!

Starbucks is potentially unique among the three businesses I am looking at in this post because it is the only one using dynamic offline marketing in its cross-channel marketing approach. This is perhaps mainly because Starbucks trades in perishable goods such as cakes and coffee, but also most likely because the items in question cost less and are available for a much shorter length of time.

As well as its normal range of coffees available all year round, Starbucks offers a range of seasonally-appropriate coffees as well, such as gingerbread lattes at Christmas time. To promote this, it normally uses all the social networking platforms it is currently involved in, as well as posters put up in and around their locations. The use of a mix of on- and offline marketing shows us another strength of cross-channel marketing – the marketing chosen by Starbucks has an immediacy to it that suits the nature of the product they are selling, which is something that other forms of marketing such as videos could not provide.

Cross-channel marketing is ultimately about supporting and promoting the company it represents, by whatever means used. No matter what form of technological pairing is used in the marketing campaign, it will always link back to the main product\website\retail company in some way – the social networking platforms of Starbucks, for one example, all offer links to the main website, and Facebook at least gives its users the opportunity to find the Starbucks location nearest to them via Google Maps.

It is important to remember that this type of marketing is particularly effective for companies who wish to make use of non-technological marketing methods, such as catalogues and posters. We’ve already seen this in the case of Starbucks use of promotional campaigns via posters. Their use of posters in and around the entrance to their locations is possibly the best method of promoting new drinks, since the customers themselves have done the majority of the work which is normally the province of marketing themselves: presumably they are entering the location because they want to buy coffee in some form or other – the posters advertising new drinks are thus in a prime location to persuade these customers to try the new drink on offer.

That is one way in which offline marketing can link back to the original product, in much the same way as technological marketing does. The other way involves using offline marketing such as a catalogue – rather than simply allowing customers to order clothes via the catalogue or the phone, with no reference to the primary website or retail location, the catalogue could\should involve deals and special sales which can only be accessed via either the retail location or the website, depending on which sales outlet is the primary site for the company.

While other styles of marketing are, as we have seen, highly effective in their own ways, cross-channel marketing is perhaps the only one which accords the same importance to offline marketing methods (posters and catalogues, to continue the examples of this post) as it does to the various online methods which exist. This could perhaps lead us to the conclusion that cross-channel marketing is the best method of marketing yet.

Thoughts?

The Use of Storytelling in Content Marketing

RedBull

This post was originally published on LinkedIn

It is almost impossible to study content marketing in any capacity without studying Red Bull and their approach to marketing. Red Bull has been described as this generation’s Nike, with many people saying that this description is valid. Their marketing campaign, which is primarily a series of videos, makes extensive and highly effective use of storytelling as a function of content marketing. Continue reading

Content Marketing

Converse

This was originally published on LinkedIn : 

Content marketing is not, as the name might seem to imply, marketing which provides advertising time for specific content. It is instead a marketing approach which uses specific content in different forms of advertising in order to change the way in which customers behave, or the way they approach goods and services. In other words, content marketing is a method of advertising which does not have ‘making a sale’ as the primary goal. Continue reading