The Rules Of Engagement

It’s always difficult to write about customer engagement without using every cliche available in the Big Book of Hackneyed Social Media Terms, but that doesn’t stop it from being really important to both retailers and marketeers.

When customers “engage” with you and your brand, they want to hear what you have to say – they’re interested. This means that the message you are sending out is getting listened to, and that’s important. Think about advertising – for some of us it can take six or seven runs of a TV advert before you really switch on and associate the brand and the message – “What’s this one about again?”. In printed media, you might just turn the page. But if you are engaged with the brand, the chances are that you will want to know more about what they are trying to say, which is why your brand is so important, and it’s equally important that your brand hits consumers right between the eyes and commands their immediate attention.

A multi-million pound marketing budget is always useful if you are trying to build your brand and engage with your customers. If you don’t have that luxury, it’s still eminently possible as long as you  get your communications right and engage with your audience. You should aim to achieve this through all your marketing channels;  web, advertising, social media, email newsletter campaigns, PR – the works.


Here’s our basic guide.

    • Adopt the “conversation” mindset. When you are communicating with your customers, imagine you are on a first date and apply the same rules. Don’t just talk about yourself and your work all the time, find out a bit about them and try not to show off or say anything you might regret later.
    • Don’t just transmit. If you spend your whole time trying to sell stuff, it’s not going to work. Yes, the point of all this marketing and social media is to sell, but think about how you do it. We often see car dealer’s Facebook and Twitter feeds which, roughly translated, look like this – “Car for sale. Another car for sale. And another. And another. And another….” You get the gist. It’s definitely boring and often annoying, and followers will quickly leave you.
    • Be relevant and interesting. As a general rule, people will follow you to get relevant information. This information should also be interesting. Regurgitating other people’s news and jabbering on about your favourite football team might appeal to some (please see Get Your Character Across) , but it’s unlikely to keep people listening to what you have to say and doesn’t present your business in the most professional light.
    • Get your message straight. Think about what you are trying to say about your business before you say it. Consider the key messages you want to get out there, and think about how you can deliver those messages in accordance with the rules above.
    • Get Your Character Across. People buy people. In particular they buy from people they like, so why not let people know that they’ll enjoy buying from you. Here’s some excellent car dealer social media, highlight’s being “E’s are Good” and “Show us Your Growler” which fit nicely with a  very professional but fun sales outfit. NB – Getting Your Character Across is not for the faint hearted – handle with care!
    • Ask Questions. We don’t mean the inane questions we often see in social media. You know the one’s – “Which would you have, the red one or the yellow one?” or “What’s your favourite VW?”. Why not try and get some real customer feedback on relevant issues – ever thought about asking your customers how they are coping with high fuel prices, or what would make a big difference to them when they come for a service? It might even help you improve your service or sell them a new car. And please, please don’t ask them to “Like” your Facebook posts – it smacks of desperation, and you’ll only be highlighting the fact that the post wasn’t worth Liking anyway…..
      The latest Andrex marketing campaign - "do you Scrunch or Fold?" Frankly, we'd rather not know...
      The latest Andrex marketing campaign – “do you Scrunch or Fold?” Frankly, we’d rather not know…

      Be Original and don’t patronise. Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s also the most obvious form of laziness. “Thank Crunchy It’s Friday” and pictures of  kittens might work for Cadbury’s and spammers, but we’re certain that the car buying public will see through it pretty quickly.

    • Another terrible Friday meme
      Another terrible Friday meme

Keep Up to Date. Rest assured, your customers have a voracious appetite for news. If you can keep them up to date with the latest goings on in your specific field, they’ll appreciate it.

  • If you can keep your customers engaged, you have an open line of communication with them. At best this means they will be waiting for the next great deal, and at worst they won’t mind the occasional sales message, even if they’re not looking to buy right now. But buy they surely will…….Brand engagement ensures that when your customer is ready to buy, you’ll be on the shortlist of potential providers, and that’s something worth working for.