At a recent sports industry event, a panel was held on the topic of consumer engagement.  The primary theme from all of the panelists was how the sports marketplace is rapidly changing and ways that brands can remain relevant.  Specifically, the discussion centered around the fan experience, and quite frankly, how to get people off the couch and into stadiums.
Of the numerous comments made by the panelists, one really hit home with me.  It came from the Chief Marketing Officer for IBM, George Hammer.  He summarized the issue very succinctly, “We all need to move from chasing and buying audiences to connecting…..We need to minimize impressions and maximize relationships.”
Think that over for a minute.  Relationships over impressions.  
In a marketplace where data rules and valuation companies measure total impressions to determine what a sponsorship is worth, this is an old school viewpoint.  But guess what, Mr. Hammer’s peers all agreed.  In this shifting economy, we need to go back to personal engagement over mass marketing. 
With this notion in mind, here are a few engagement dos and don’ts from our playbook…..
Do: Write personal handwritten thank you notes.
Don’t: Default to “reply all”.
Do: Schedule time to reach out to your stakeholders on a regular basis.
Don’t: Only reach out to people when you need something from them.
Do: Offer opt-in opportunities for those interested to plug into your organization in some way.
Don’t: Add everyone you meet to your newsletter distribution list.
Do: Write content and add to the conversation.
Don’t: Simply “like” and “follow”.
Do: Use appropriate social media tools.
Don’t: Try to be everywhere on every platform.
Do: Make time for face to face meetings (see “Never Eat Alone”).
Don’t: Be “too busy”.
Do: Be responsive.
Don’t: Let messages go unreturned, especially the important ones related to tough topics.
Going back to the premise of “building relationships” over “buying” business, we hope this short list of tactics that have worked for us over time can also work for you.  We believe the above dos can help in work, in relationships, with your families, and in life overall. 
It’s likely that you already do many of these things.  If you don’t do them all, we recommend that you pick one, try it out, and see how it goes.  As we tell our clients when we deliver a strategic plan, “There is a lot in there, you can’t take it all on at once.  So let’s focus on a couple of key items and test them out.  We can revisit the other items in due time.”
One last thought…..  Engagement is a process and not an event.  No matter the audience, we have to be intentional about how we interact and communicate with others.  We also have to be consistent in how we do so.  An intentional and consistent process, rather than a checkbox on a to do list.
Put some of these ideas in play and let us know how it goes.  Have a great start to your week!