Everyone it seems is focused on engaging some group as a way to perpetuate and grow their business. HR wants to engage the employees, Marketing wants to engage the consumer, Sales wants to engage the channel. But is that enough? I’m not sure it is.
I would offer up the notion that engagement is a table stake. It may help you to stay in business, but it won’t necessarily help your company or brand or product category to grow. If every one of your competitors is successful in “engaging” their employees, consumers and channel, then who wins?
In my estimation, the leading players in any space will not settle for engagement, they will be the ones that mobilize their employees, their consumers and their channels. A mobilized employee will go above and beyond his or her own standards for active participation in supporting the organizational strategy and goals. The mobilized channel will become visible, contributory advocates to the products or brands they truly believe in. Example: I may sell both Samsung and Apple smartphones, and I could be fully engaged with both of the brands and products, as well as the retailer that employs me. But at the end of the day, which am I more likely to tell my friends and neighbors about, post online about, become a passionate defender of? There is a difference, you see between engagement and mobilization.
Engagement is, after all, a fairly passive word. Companies (and brands) used to look at loyalty as the end zone. If you could engender a loyal customer, you felt you had scored an ongoing revenue stream. But it has since been proven that loyalty alone is not enough. There is an emotional element that links an individual with a company or product or brand. If I am emotionally committed, and if I am willing to go above and beyond, compared to others who are less vehement about their dedication, then I am of greater value as an employee or a customer or a consumer.
All things being equal, and they often are, how does one acquire a horde of passionate zealots, individuals who not only aspire to the goals and values of a brand or company, but are driven to take that brand or company to new heights? This is, in my opinion, where marketplace and organizational innovation often occurs – it is the holy grail of crowdsourcing.
A key difference is that a mobilized employee or customer or channel is willing to take personal risk to advance the values of their employer, or increase market acceptance and advocacy of a product, or become a public champion of a brand.
It takes a lot to move from loyalty to engagement to mobilization. You can’t do it on your own. Loyal employees (or customers) are the foundation for engaged employees (or customers). Mobilized employee and/or customers will be culled from those who are engaged. These are your most critical influencers. What are you doing to identify these VIPs and to harness their tremendous passion for your company or your brand or your products?