According to Wikipedia, “Engagement marketing – sometimes called experiential marketing, event marketing, on-ground marketing, live marketing, participation marketing, or special events – is a marketing strategy that directly engages consumers and invites and encourages them to participate in the evolution of a brand or a brand experience.” This strategy gets consumers connected to a brand, enabling them to interact and engage, making a real connection.
Engagement marketing can be extremely effective in today’s world of non-stop messaging. In the heyday of television, the big 3 networks could reach 70% of consumers. Now with digital alternatives like Netflix, DVR, Amazon, Hulu, and others, the TV market has become scattered and fractured, making it difficult to reach your audience. The consumer is in control of the message they will receive. They can turn it off.
Television viewing is not the only place where things have changed. The radio landscape now includes digital music, Pandora, and other streaming services. Smartphones have created even more media alternatives – apps, streaming services, games, and social media. New media are being created literally every day. All of these are competing for our attention and space in our brains. In an interview with CBS News’s Caitlyn Johnson, Jay-Walker-Smith, President of the marketing firm Yankelovich, said, “Everywhere we turn we’re saturated with advertising messages trying to get our attention.” Walker-Smith added that we’ve gone from exposure to 500 ads per day in the 1970’s to more than 5,000 daily ads today.
Breaking through the clutter is where engagement marketing can be extremely useful to companies looking to make the most bang for their marketing dollars. In my role with the York Revolution, I’ve been able to help local businesses to cut through the clutter by tapping into the power of engagement marketing.
My favorite story comes from before I began my career with the Revs. I was coaching a group of 10-year-old kids in Little League. As one player stepped up to the plate, the kids on the other team were chanting “Breadsticks! Breadsticks!” At the time, the breadsticks promotion was a popular partnership between the Revolution and Pizza Hut. If a designated player on the opposing team struck out during a game, all fans in attendance would win free breadsticks. The “Breadsticks” chant became a staple of all Revs games. The promotion had become so popular that a group of 10-year-old boys brought it with them to a Little League game! Talk about the power of engagement. The Pizza Hut brand was memorable to the kids and succeeded in driving store traffic. Today, that same kind of promotion is in place with Rutter’s stores, and fans flock to the local retailers to redeem tickets for free mozzarella sticks. The promotion makes a memorable connection for Rutter’s with consumers, and when those folks stop by to claim their “mozz sticks,” they buy more stuff and they become repeat customers.
Last year, the team partnered with Shipley Energy for a season-long promotion where one lucky fan could win $5,000 during the “Shipley Grand Slam Inning.” If a Revs player to hit a grand slam during the selected inning, the fan whose name was drawn would win 5,000 bucks. For 70 games, the team hyped the excitement of the contest while associating the Shipley brand with the excitement of the contest. On the last game of the regular season, Revolution player Chase Simpson hit a grand slam in the 7th inning, guaranteeing the Revs a spot in the playoffs. It was an amazing moment in Revolution history and in a game that the team needed to win to go on to what would become a championship season. I remember jumping up and down with the fans cheering for the clutch hit while simultaneously remembering that it was the Shipley Grand Slam Inning! You can’t get that kind of connection with potential consumers from a print ad or a billboard. It was absolutely amazing.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that this is the way to spend all of your marketing dollars. I worked in outdoor advertising for many years prior to my time with the Revolution. There’s definitely a benefit to reaching MORE people with MORE frequency with billboards. Engagement marketing is just one piece of the overall marketing proposal complimenting your direct mail, print, or broadcast plan.
I love what I do. Helping businesses gain market share while having fun doing it is a blast, literally. We have a real cannon that we fire when we hit a home run or win the game. Sponsoring the cannon connects your brand with something positive and fun, and you can’t miss it when the entire building shakes. Give your business a boom and consider a partnership with the Revolution or other engagement marketing opportunity this year.
-Nate Tile, Vice President of Business Development