February 18, 2007

three thoughts on customer engagement...


Three thoughts on "Customer Engagement".

1. As somebody in the wine business, I find it odd that the industry, which has been bringing people together for thousands of years, is actually rather bad at "Customer Engagement". A lot of winemakers don't want a conversation with you, they just want to tell everybody how great they are. They just want to slap a picture of their chateau on the label and tell you how classy their family is. Boring, boring, boring....

2. It's not about how much your product engages with the customer. It's about how much your product allows your customer to engage with other people. As Kathy Sierra says in her brilliant post, "Success no longer has to be a meritocracy (or advertocracy), today it's just as much a loveocracy."

3. I find "Customer Engagement" much easier if I start thinking of the product [in my case, a bottle of wine] not as a "thing", but as a "Social Object".

[Semi-Related Link] Johnnie Moore talks about the "300" movie event we went to the other night:

I think if I'd not seen it in these circumstances, I might have been a bit more snarky about it... and I think that's interesting. These bloggy initiatives rip down some of the barriers between creator and audience; because the director was there, I thought more about the work that he'd gone through in making it, saw his passion for the work, enjoyed his quirky anecdotes about the challenge of getting it made. I made connections. In my eensy-weensy way I felt part of something. I like that.
By opening up to the bloggers, Warner Bros help turn their movie into a social object. I guess the question is, how well does social objectification scale?

[Afterthought from Johnnie Moore:]
"Marketing 1.0 treats customers as objects of communication: marketing is done to them. In co-creation, everyone is a subject (in the grammatical sense) — an initiator of action, a creator. Your brand, and your marketing, are the objects everyone gets to play with - if you're lucky. Miss this point, and you may head the same way as the music industry..."

Posted by hugh macleod at February 18, 2007 11:20 AM | TrackBack

Re: 2. Me thinks if you can crack this you've cracked universal appeal.

If your product or service helps me to let go of the idea of separate interests then it must also acknowledge that part of me that needs to feel the connection that exists between us, the part that seeks for the confirmation and safety of knowing that we are not separate.

Posted by: Nick Smith at February 18, 2007 7:07 PM

Coincidental, but my first guess for social objectification scalability would be in groups of 300. In Freakonomics, The Long Tail, or Blink (I can’t remember which one) a businessman comments on the appropriate time to open a new office. He answers, "I put 300 spaces in the parking lot, when they are full, I know it's time to build a new office."

The closer we are to each other, the better. And therefore lots of little groups are probably better than a few big ones. When we are all still people, not numbers, recommendations mean something.

In the same way that MBNA and others used affinity marketing to sell credit cards, we (bloggers) use common interests and trusted opinions to sell products (whether we are paid or not).

Because when two things are basically the same, like credit cards are, it’s really tough to choose one over the other. That’s why subjective opinions, like what your friends think, become more important than the objective tech specs.

Posted by: Eric Strauss at February 18, 2007 11:03 PM

Don't know if the aim necessarily has to be a "loveocracy", although that would be great.

A "respectocracy" seems pretty worthy goal - and I think that might have been what Johnnie was getting at. Instead of getting snarky, he went in to the screening with an idea of the work and care going into the product. 2-way respect. We can live with that in our shop.

Posted by: at February 18, 2007 11:07 PM

Hi Hugh,

just launched an e-commerce business,so client engagement is a real concern. Your post helped me today, very inspiring!
products as social objects, I totally agree especially today, and hopefully more and more...

Posted by: nabila at February 18, 2007 11:15 PM

"It's not about how much your product engages with the customer. It's about how much your product allows your customer to engage with other people"

If you make, say, peritoneal dialysis machines, I'd think the latter depends on the former.

Or am I misreading this?

Posted by: Milan Davidovic at February 19, 2007 6:39 PM

Clever for clever's sake, Milan ;-)

Posted by: hugh macleod at February 19, 2007 10:37 PM