by Jan Hutchins, CEO of SocialAgenda Media.

One of effectiveness “guru” Steven Covey’s gems is his recommendation that communication works best if one seeks to clearly understand the “other” before seeking to communicate one’s ideas or information to the “other.” People like to feel heard and understood before being comfortable giving their full attention and trust to someone. It’s at the core of all marketing.

Since words have meaning, or at least are intended to, let’s consider what prospect engagement seems to mean today as opposed to what at least Covey and this threory say it really means.

When I goog-learn about the topic I get:
• Building engagement is really about improving the quality of the buying cycle
• It’s the delivery of consistently valuable marketing interactions across the buying cycle.
• Nothing builds relationship better than two-way communication.
• You must create a steady stream of useful, relevant information.
• Becoming the go-to resource for information and educational materials that keep your prospect at the top of his game
• Collaboration occurs in forums, discussion boards and group sites
• Create interesting, compelling content, people will likely come back for more.
• You must trust your audience as much as you’re asking them to trust you.
• Prospect Engagement Outline is a sales technique of the Value Forward Selling approach and enables you to be “professionally blunt.”
• Catch a prospect’s attention with compelling content
• Engage to convert a prospect into a customer
• Give them multiple reasons to grow their business with us
• Deliver outstanding value and foster customer loyalty
• Re-engage and reactivate high-potential former customers
• Rescue customer relationships on shaky ground?

Ask any marketer about whether it’s important to know the customer and the answer will be yes. Yet just as we know selling is about the pain/problem, we often find ourselves talking more about the wonderful solution we have and losing the sale. In the same accidental way, we too often find ourselves thinking about the customer like he, she, they are objects to be manipulated rather than people actually needing to be understood. Understandable considering the pressure to perform we’re all facing, yet still fundamentally wrong.

Looking back at the Goog-learn list above, only the one in bold seems to fully adhere to the Covey theory.
Questions:
• When you look at your prospect engagement strategy are you REALLY seeking to understand, empathize and communicate with them about their problem before trying to get them to hear your wonderful solution?
• Do you REALLY know their buying process and where they are on the buying cycle so you know how to tailor your marketing to them appropriately, or are you losing sales by pushing too soon or not identifying early enough?
• Would drip marketing better nurture your sales cycle process?
• Are you trying out enough small tests to know when to take the big shot at your market?
• Are you doing the math so you REALLY know how many opportunities and how many leads it takes to generate a sale and building your plans accordingly?

The list above does acknowledge the importance of good content as the currency driving marketing today, but are your selections REALLY targeting the customer you’re seeking and leading to the brand you’re trying to build?

Forgive me for asking so many questions; I’m only seeking to better understand you so we can have a more effective conversation. 😉

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by Jan Hutchins, CEO of SocialAgenda Media.

My original urge was to title this blog New Media – Art or Science? I’m an artist at heart and have consistently felt an emotional reaction when directed to do SEO to decide the subject matter and flow of ideas for something I’m writing. Don’t get me wrong, I recognize the utilitarian need but find myself chafing at having my creative impulse subjected to the search habits of the masses.

Forgive the comparison but would Shakespeare have checked Google Ad Words to decide the subject of his next play? Is there not something that is more about commerce than art in seeing what people are most likely to want before I create?

I didn’t need to spend much time researching data about my emotional experience before I reached the conclusion that it is not Art or Science? but rather Art & Science.

This quote attributed to the first black woman in space ended the debate for me…

‘Science or art? A ridiculous choice. The arts and sciences are connected. And our mission, says Dr. [Mae] Jemison, is to reconcile and reintegrate science and the arts. Both the arts and the sciences, says Dr. Jemison, are not merely connected but manifestations of the same thing — they are our attempt to build an understanding of the universe, and our attempt to influence things (things in the universe internal to ourselves and the universe external to ourselves). “The arts and sciences are avatars of human creativity — [they] are our attempt as humans to build an understanding of the world around us….”‘]

My emotions regularly create trouble for me and once again they were guiding me away from the very balance and perspective I seek. Dr. Jemison was able to the face the unbelievable fear of being blasted into outer space because of the understanding expressed in that quote. I can face the fact that I want this to be read by as many people as possible and thus have a powerful positive impact on the universe external to myself.

And it’s not lost on me that I found her quote and lots of other interesting perspectives on the matter so easily because of the same search engine miracle that caused my emotional reactions to having to have my writing optimized.

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