The right message can even make jury duty engaging

Marketing has evolved into something much more complex than it was just five years ago. It used to be that our marketing channels were siloed and we could plan marketing programs in just one particular channel. Today, we have to start conversations with customers who are using multiple channels – sometimes simultaneously. We must have a relevant message for each channel in which they prefer to communicate to be effective.

Customer engagement strategies in a digital worldThis really hit home for me when I was summoned for jury duty earlier this month. If you have experienced jury duty before, you know the drill: show up early and wait. Laptops, cell phones, iPods and Kindles are all confiscated upon arrival. There is a plethora of well-read, outdated magazines to choose from, and if you’re lucky, a television.

The scenario brought me back to the marketing of old, when there were limited ways to reach your customers. For a prospective juror like me, ancient periodicals in the waiting room and a movie from 1980 to inform me of the serving process didn’t resonate. Doesn’t the court know that we live in a digital world now? Our lives are connected… we must be connected.

When we were released for lunch, I promptly fetched my BlackBerry to check email, make phone calls and essentially get my digital “fix.” After lunch, I headed to the coffee break room and noticed that a television was on.  Soon, several folks came in and plopped down. I looked around and thought, “Wow they look as disconnected as I feel.” It occurred to me how lost we were without the technology that keeps our lives ticking all day long. We have acclimated to a multi-channel life in which we can engage as often, and in as many ways, as we want.

So I decided to just blurt out, “Hey, is everyone as lost without their BlackBerry and laptop as I am?” That was the right message for my audience; they craved connection and it facilitated conversation.

As the afternoon progressed, we laughed, told stories and even engaged in conversations about books, yoga and General Hospital. The court clerk commented on what a happy, loud group we were and said, “I wish all my jurors had this much fun.” We could have sat there silently all day, disconnected. Instead, a relevant interaction sparked a conversation about topics that would have otherwise gone undiscovered.

The truth of the matter is that today we are connected to a digital device most of the time and despite my group’s lively offline conversation, that’s ok.  My day at jury duty reminded me that, as marketers, we need to take every opportunity to learn about and engage customers in meaningful ways that resonate with them at the time.

If you are interested in learning how to get the conversation started, check out the 2012 Digital Marketer.