Small Biz Marketers: Are You Striving for Engagement, or Settling for Eyeballs?

Engagement vs. Eyeballs

Does your small business’ marketing program consist of merely trying to garner as many “eyeballs” as possible … or is your goal engagement?

Because the best way we like to sum up traditional marketing versus modern marketing is Engagement vs. Eyeballs.

What do we mean by that?

Well, traditionally, small business might invest in media, such as postcards, or television commercials, or outdoor advertising.  All of those things are great, but they are focused on reaching as many people (i.e., eyeballs) as possible, with the hopes that brand recognition would stick, translating to sales at some point in the future.

I’m not saying these forms of marketing are bad, and we do recommend them for many of our clients.  But modern marketing tools allow us to do so much more, and integrate new tools that allow us to reach the eyeballs — and then engage with potential customers and brand advocates.

In other words, building long-term relationships with people that may not only result in direct sales, but also communities of brand advocates who can help spread your work to their friends and family.

Anybody can press a button and blast out a message.  And there are a lot of marketers out there making a pretty penny off broadcast-model-tactics-based programs that have their clients pay for formulaic, short-term bursts of activity that do little more than blast out impressions.

You should choose a different path, however, and build integrated, outcomes-focused campaigns that allow you to build long-term relationships with hundreds/thousands/millions of people in the areas that matter most to you.

To do this requires five steps that are fully intertwined and occurring simultaneously:

  • Developing Online Messaging
  • Taking Message Public: Creating the Narrative
  • Engaging Consumers
  • Creating/Identifying Brand Advocates
  • Mobilizing Advocates

Too many marketers focus on the last step — mobilizing current advocates — without the continuous outreach and education for which they should be striving. It is, in fact, this continuous outreach and education that makes effective marketing unique and powerful.  The key is not only finding those already passionate and asking them to advocate — it is reaching the undecideds and converting them into advocates.

Online tools allow you to build programs that work like an ongoing machine to constantly find interested audiences, educate them via your point of view, get believers to become advocates, and constantly generate supporters between the campaign’s launch and the end date.

Unfortunately, this type of relationship-building is anathema to some marketers. Over the past few months, there have been headlines how some large brands have ceased their Facebook advertising because they didn’t see immediate uptick in direct sales from those ads.

They’ve got it all wrong.  Facebook ads aren’t about direct sales, insomuch as they are about getting people to “LIKE” your Facebook page, engage with consistent content, and become part of a community of potential  advocates for your brand.

Check out this Huffington Post article about how Ford “gets it” when it comes to Facebook ads, while GM missed the mark.

But the Engagement vs. Eyeballs model isn’t limited to Facebook.  It can be applied to any type of communications being employed by your company — from email marketing to social media marketing to in-store customer service.

For example, in politics, there are some campaigns who use their email campaigns to simply spam people from the start with requests for dollars. Then there’s the Obama campaign, which took time to build relationships with their community and create their narrative, before ever asking them for a dime. Check out this excerpt from Fast Company:

As Rospars and Hughes built a growing list of online supporters for Obama, the campaign’s fund-raisers wanted to hit the group up for cash. Rospars persuaded them to wait until his email team could “create a narrative that let people know they were part of the campaign.”

Small business marketers, not just political campaigns, can learn a lot from that example.

Don’t just broadcast.  Don’t just deliver messages.  Start building relationships. Take time to creative your narrative.

Make the goal of your marketing program engagement … don’t just settle for eyeballs.

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