It’s About Response, Not Engagement

Guest post by Jeff Molander, Author of the new book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You
and adjunct professor, Loyola University Business School. He blogs at

We’re all listening, engaging, sharing, posting, updating. But with what business outcome in mind? When we say engagement, might we really mean “prolonged attention?”? And if so, is engaging taking full advantage of the social media opportunity?

I’ve met a handful of successful ‘social sellers’ while researching my book. And they all told me the same thing: The key is to engage in ways that provokes behavior… acts that reveal insights on customers pains or desires. Then, funneling those insights into marketing programs that exploit those insights in ways that produce sales. And that’s what direct response marketing is all about.

David Oglivy himself said, “You direct response people know what kind of advertising works and what doesn’t work. You know it to a dollar. The general advertising people don’t know.”

Over forty years ago Ogilvy predicted a collision between direct response and advertising that is actually happening right now. In February of 2009, two advertising industry giants finally caved and said, “There is no longer a linear model of consumer behavior. The concept of AIDA (awareness, interest, desire, action) is now spaghetti. Direct response no longer exists at the end of the purchase funnel. Thanks to the digitization of everything, brand and response are now intertwined.”

Those two men were Daniel Morel, CEO of Wunderman, and John Gerzema, chief insights officer of Young and Rubicam Group. The heads of these massive global advertising agencies went on to proclaim, “To rebuild brand value, direct response can play a vital role…we have the tools, technology, data, and knowledge to learn, adapt, customize, and respond to stimulate not only sales, but contribute in building loyalty and affinity for the brand.”

Behavior Trumps Engagement

Yes, trust and listening to customers has always been required. But engaging with quality content is not enough. You’ve got to provoke customers to respond in ways that generate inquiries and questions you can help them solve. Understanding buyers’ motivations (and working with them) has always been the secret to success—since man invented the idea of selling.

Could the key to selling things with social media be, at the core, getting back to basics?

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