We human beings are blessed with five senses with which to enjoy the world around us. Of these five senses -- sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch -- the sense of touch is arguably the most intimate, and the most social. Studies have shown that in order for newborn babies to thrive they need to be touched and cuddled. Babies deprived of skin contact quickly lose weight and may even get sick and die.
Even adults are not immune to touch deprivation. Some say we need at least eight hugs a day, and when we meet people for the first time it is normal for us to shake hands to establish some kind of connection with them. Touchpoints are no less important to your business. Touchpoints are the areas within the business cycle where your product, service or brand interfaces with customers, prospects and stakeholders before, during and after the transaction.
Within the course of conducting your business there may be several of these touchpoints, and each one represents an excellent opportunity for you to engage with your markets. No business can thrive without these vital areas of interaction. Businesspeople in general, and marketers in particular, are wired to recognize and exploit the opportunities found at these touchpoints.
The challenge is not merely for marketers to create constant and meaningful engagement with customers and prospects, but to do so despite dwindling resources, mounting competition and infinitely increasing demand. Social media is like a double-edged sword; it is an amazing tool that allows us to create and harness valuable touchpoints much more effectively than any other marketing channel to-date.
But one of the dangers attendant to this is that if your company is not prepared for it, the resulting torrent of market interaction could overwhelm your organization, causing more harm than good for your business. To minimize the risk brought about by the demands of sustaining complicated relationships with each and every customer and prospect, your company needs to transform.
Here are some ways you can help your company adjust so it can sustain and survive audience engagement.
- Engagement is a team effort. At some point you will need to communicate to everyone that regardless of their job description, each member of the company needs to think like a marketer, especially if the person's role brings him in direct contact with customers and prospects.
- Ease your company out of legacy marketing channels. The old marketing and sales ways are less efficient than the new processes and tools now available. They (the older methods) are volume-based, with limited visibility beyond opens and clicks, and are not based on solid data and established metrics.
- Empower other non-marketing departments to drive market engagement. This allows you to free up time and resources for the marketing team, creating more marketing "surface area" for your company. In any case, the people who work with the markets within specific areas of operation are probably the best equipped to carry the engagement through anyway.
- Develop external partnerships that extend beyond the prevalent client-vendor relationship. This path is particularly advantageous when your company requires new skills that are not currently provided by internal resources. This allows your company to develop new customer engagement strategies that make better, more efficient and more innovative use of the new social media tools.