Engaging with your audience

A little story to start with..

3 years ago an electrician was fitting safety devices in kitchens. The biggest complaint from kitchen owners was the length of time it took to install and thus the bill was higher and downtime longer.

He thought he could solve that problem. Then of course maybe fitters would be unhappy about having to charge less and so he asked his peers, other fitters, what if any their grievances were with fitting these devices. The flood gates opened; lack of good instructions, lack of support, lack of market competitiveness, backward thinking manufactures, lack of innovation and technology and the list went on and on.

Asking the question “If I could solve all these but it would cost you 30% off fitting time and in doing so keep the end user happy would you buy from me?” The resounding answer was yes.

The electrician engaged with those around him. He listened and he asked questions and then he listened again. He researched and asked more questions and listened again. Then he sold safety devices, lots and lots and lots of them. Slow to start and building and all under the noses of his competitors who were sat round in their offices doing what they’d always done, very little.

Of course the engaging didn’t end there it continued and then architects got interested because the electrician asked them what their biggest problems were. “No one can be bothered looking at our plans and telling us what we need to be specifying”. “I will” the electrician said and so on.

He did this in his spare time, last month he left his job to run his business full time with requests for quotes falling into the inbox like there was no tomorrow. People want to buy his products because he listens and asks questions. He talks, he converses. He’s helpful, he’s knowledgeable – he ENGAGES.

Engagement I find these days is one of those trendy words enjoying a renaissance along with community, social and a host of others but with two things in common. One; they are the demands of the massive, prefixed with the words ‘give me’. So, ‘give me engagement, give me community, give me social and give me this and that… give me the time of day’.

The other thing they have in common is most people don’t really know what they mean. Not meaning to be arrogant here but these words have prolifically exploded in their usage in the past couple of years and suddenly everyone’s an expert?

So what does it mean to engage?
Most businesses sell something, a product or a service and they sell that to customers. That’s humans transacting with humans. Picture yourself in a client meeting. Imagine that everything around you is stripped away (clothing excepted of course : ) ). It’s just 2 humans face to face.

Business is humans interacting with other humans. At the deepest and most fundamental level you are trying to connect with someone else and turn lights on in the emotive areas of their brain by engaging with that person. When those areas are light up then a connection is made, a connection that maybe rewarded by them buying from you.

360°  engagement.
In the example given in the story the electrician engaged with his audience, his potential customers. But engagement doesn’t stop there with just your prospects. Engagement must continue with your current customers as well.

It costs far less to keep a client than it does to find a new one so why has there been so much emphasis on using all these new engagement tools to find new customers? You’ve got to look after your existing ones. You’ve got to listen to them, ask questions, solve problems, make improvements etc etc

A practical example
As a working example my Norfolk website design business sends out a questionnaire to every prospect and ‘interrogates’ them about their plans, business or organisation, goals, current marketing, customer base etc etc before we give a quote & proposal. We will get a brief from them too of course but we get to ask some really important questions about their business that might get overlooked in a specification.

When the job is finished we send another questionnaire that asks for candid feedback about how the job went. Covering topics like expectations, communication and customer service. We get real open feedback and where required we implement changes to improve our service, informing the customer when we do so. This kind of engagement is gold dust.

So you know your customer base wants to engage with you. You just need to go and engage with them. Living in the digital age one of the best things is that most of the tools to enable you to do this are free although nothing beats face to face and engaging over a coffee, nothing.

I’ve recently been talking about engagement on the A-Z of business success. More great examples of engagement can be found on Ann Hawkins blog and there’s a small radio interview that can be found on the Business Hub show

How do you engage with your prospects and your customers? If you don’t engage, how come? What are the best examples of engagement you’ve come across? Do leave your comments below.



I love: Norfolk | Food | Cooking | Community | Speaking | Marketing | My Wife x | Great customer service & engagement | Running a business (or 2) | Humour

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  1. Thank you Gary
    Enjoyed the electrician story – beautifully illustrates how we should see complaints not as insults but as answers to questions we forgot to ask.

  2. Hi Gary,

    I heard about your post on @SuButcher ‘s article Consultant Marketing to Architects. I think your advice, like hers, is excellent and is something that many businesses these days over look – listening to what your customers actually want!




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