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The Strategy Room

The Delight-First Approach to Audience Engagement

By: Emily Wenstrom

audience engagement

When it comes to public relations and audience engagement, many creative teams are faced with the question, “Why?”

To the pros, the answer is clear. From traditional PR placements to content marketing to social media outreach, engaging your audience increases awareness, builds a positive relationship with the brand, and keeps your organization top-of-mind—all important aspects to keeping an organization growing and thriving.

But these benefits are not always easy for non-communication decisionmakers to see when faced with the hard numbers of a budget request for a new initiative.

Which is why it is so refreshing to see creative work like this recent initiative from Boston Pizza:

The company created tiny 3D printed replicas of patio chairs to put around its “pizza saver” tables in delivery boxes.

I’m delighted. Aren’t you delighted? Can you imagine not knowing, and opening your Friday-night-in usual to this little scene?

And yet this type of audience delight as marketing is often devalued.

The ROI of Warm Fuzzies

A bit of fun is well and good, but why on Earth would a business—one that does not make dollhouse furniture—invest their valuable funds into creating a ton of very tiny 3D patio chairs?

Disney doesn’t need to turn the lines for their rides into interactive experiences … but it keeps park attendees smiling even in sweltering Florida heat.

Uber didn’t need to drive kittens all over major cities for National Cat Day … but it got thousands using the app (and gave hundreds of kitties forever homes).

Pixar doesn’t need to create bonus shorts at the start of their films, but it drives audiences to be sure to get to the theater early.

If your brand only does what it needs to for customer outreach, you’re missing out. Because the emotions customers associate with your brand experience matter—hugely.

A company known for delight is the most pleasant type of disruptor.

When a brand is associated with delight, customers do not just tolerate brand engagement—they are eager for it.

Delight makes you sticky

No, not like a four-year-old after craft corner. Like when Beyonce drops a new album.

When I first came across Boston Pizza’s pizza patio, my first impulse was to post it online. And I did. Then I sent the link to a few additional people I thought would especially enjoy it.

This is the greatest power of delight—we want to share it.

In the digital age, the impulse to share is a powerful one that can expand your reach exponentially in a matter of hours.

Not only does it expand your reach, but it inspires a naturally occurring word-of-mouth endorsement from your existing fans to their (typically like-minded) followings. That’s the best kind of brand awareness and loyalty you can get!

A Strategy, Not a Gimmick

I’ll give it to the naysayers on one point: one random, one-off moment of delight does not an ROI make. That’s just a gimmick (see: IHOP’s IHOB debacle).

But multiple moments of delight, over time, add up to a brand that customers can’t get enough of.

Just like any other marketing outreach, there is no “one and done” when it comes to moments of delight.

Instead, reward and inspire your team for delightful thinking. By encouraging these types of ideas—and showing that the company is willing to put them into action—you can create a culture of delight that will keep customers coming back to you over and over.




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