It’s about the Engagement, Stupid!

By | December 23, 2009

It may be almost two decades since the original President Clinton’s campaign slogan, but I think it’s appropriate for today’s emphasis on engaging users.  The typical talk today is on how to engage through social media, but my take is really about engaging prospects with products directly, rather than the brand as a whole.

I was reading a post from the beginning of the year by Devin Day (I had linked to previously), Authentic Product Engagement, and the message really resonated with me: if you provide users with an authentic interaction (his emphasis) with the brand’s actual products, it will help improve sales in a way (what he says, “drive purchase intent”) conducive for dissemination through social media, rather than trying to hit people over the head with a message or try to sneak something by.  With the app his company developed, he found

To encourage users to interact with multiple styles, we gave each shoe different abilities and incorporated many of the benefits from the real shoes into the game.

This echoes my observation that the more you focus on the benefits of the product, the more effective the engagement will be.  I would also add, place the product in the right context that accentuates those benefits, or reveals shortcomings of competitor products.  I think it’s great to incorporate the brand’s products into games, but when the goal of the prospect is to learn about the product, you likely don’t need the extra, ‘fun’ elements, you should focus on the right interactions with the product.

How might you frame the right context for presenting product interactions?

You can start by compiling a list of problem situations that the product is going to solve (thinking like a prospect: how is this product going to solve my problems?), perhaps prioritizing them with respect to key differentiators and how your product addresses these situations.  Your product likely has several types of prospects, like what David Scott Meerman talks about as ‘buyer personas’, each with a set of problems from your general collection.  It may be easier to think about the universe of problems that your product solves by thinking first about the types of people (prospects) who will use or evaluate your product.  Therefore, the process may be iterative, in that you think of a general class of problems, think about dividing that set by prospects, then thinking about other problems you can come up with for those prospects, then think of more prospects, and so on.

When you have settled on a set of prospects and defined a basic set of their problems, you can then create your scenarios that let prospects solve the problem with your product.

Again, in the end, it is about providing authentic product engagement (thought I’m not sure what inauthentic would be, outright lying?), which is about giving your prospects realistic and meaningful interactions with your product solving real-world problems that are important to them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *