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The high cost of — and new cures for — poor customer engagement

An interesting report from Gallup raises the stakes for innovation in customer engagement—just as an interesting new event from the Chicago American Marketing Association is about to present new perspectives on how to truly engage (Feb. 23 at 1871).

“The State of the American Consumer” paints a new picture of engagement in post-recession America, one where better UX or CX must be measured by the ability to deliver superior EX… Emotional Experience.  As Gallup’s research notes, “Customer engagement…. a customer's emotional or psychological attachment to a brand, product, or company -- is the definitive predictor of business growth.”

Unfortunately, it also reports that tried and true approaches to boosting engagement and delivering that growth cutting in an era where customers may long for more than user-friendliness or even superior performance.  “Simply put,” says Gallup, “consumers will give more money to the businesses they feel emotionally connected to, and they will continue to ignore, or even oppose, those that provide them no [such] value.”

There’s a happy, if not surprising, alignment between what Gallup encourages and the ideas to be detailed at the first Marketing SLAM! Being presented by the Chicago American Marketing Association (Chicago AMA). For this new event, Chicago AMA encouraged professionals from the full spectrum of marketing to propose presentations on the theme “Overlooked Keys to Unlock Engagement.”  A quick look at each of the six ten-minute presentations selected for the February 23 event reveals that each correlates in its own way to Gallup’s finding on the importance of emotional engagement:

1.     True Storytelling: How to Ditch the Script to Make Story Magic

There’s no telling how many times “story” has been touted in recent years as the missing bridge to span the gap between customers’ rational and emotional sides.  But in a content-saturated world, where any number of barely rewritten sales pitches are passed off as “stories,” threatening to undermine the believability of the form in a business context, how can marketers access the true power of this timeless communication tool?  Jolean Olson, an Emmy-winner now at Scenic Road productions, will present a case for “ditching the script” to deliver the deeper, more emotionally-honest impact that connects with inherently unscripted humans (i.e., your customers).

2.     Don’t Think Like a Marketer

When you think of customer engagement, who exactly should you think like? Even more so, who should you feel like?  The answer may not be who first comes to mind — and this presentation, by Lindsay Dunn, Director of Content Marketing Solutions for the American Marketing Association, will reveal who to think like and how to get sufficiently into their hearts and minds to make the real connections that produce effective engagement.

3.     How to Divide and Conquer Customers

Customer segmentation is nothing new—but how you need to do it today is a whole new challenge and opportunity.  Brad Rukstales, CEO of Cogensia, will describe how marketers can get beneath the surface of all that data to understand and even empathize with individual customers, allowing brands to engage on a more human level.

4.     Unheard of Success via Better Social Listening

“Social listening” may still be one of those words buzzing around your marketing head, having yet to register as an actionable investment of time and money. Brendan Shea, Senior Manager of Content for Sprout Social, will help you see and hear how to “listen” on social platforms in practical ways that can yield the up-to-the-minute insights required for creating spot-on content—the kind that creates engagement, engenders sharing, and connects brands to consumers (and their networks) on a deeper level.

5.     The Future is Hear: Listening and the Engaging Power of Audio

Social listening isn’t the only thing that should be perking up your marketer’s ears.  Hopefully the surge in podcasts, in our ever-more mobile marketplace, has also grabbed your attention— but how can you harness that “podcast power” in more than a me-too fashion? Gary Ricke, President of Orbis Design and long-time expert in all things digital and visual, will describe his epiphany about sound and using our ears before opening your mouth on mic can yield exceptional human-to-human engagement.

6.     Beyond engagement: The Power of Co-Creation

So you’ve finally managed to engage your customer—now what? You’ve made a connection, but how can you create a relationship? As with any lasting, healthy relationship, you don’t do it alone.  Brian Walker, CEO of AE Marketing and creator of the CoCreation Labs series, will demonstrate how to co-create relationships along with customers, improving innovation, on-going engagement and overall customer experience.

Don’t forget what Gallup says: “Customer engagement… is the definitive predictor of growth.”

Come to 1871 on February 23 and let six experts show you how to really grow, at the first-ever Marketing SLAM.

About Chicago AMA: Over seventy-five years strong, the Chicago AMA delivers cutting-edge marketing programming, connects marketers across all disciplines and business industries, and enables marketing career advancement.  With Chicago as an epicenter for marketing excellence today and tomorrow, no other organization connects as many marketers with as many opportunities as the Chicago AMA. For more information about Chicago AMA,

About the Author
Chuck Kent, Director Brand Content, Avenue
Chuck Kent is the Director of Brand Content for Avenue, the brand strategy and activation firm that specializes in driving change and growth for midsize B2B companies. He is also the creator and moderator of The Branding Roundtable for Branding Magazine.

Topics: Events, Insights

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