How to Engage Your Audience

There are no shortage of ways to engage with your customers – would be and actual alike. Of course, nothing beats the personal touch, even in this high tech, 24/7, wireless era. Sending a thank you note, or having lunch or drinks with a customer, colleague, or prospect remain some of the best ways to make a great impression.

And that’s what it is about, right – forging a connection? People can shop anywhere; we all have competitors and our competitors want our customers, begging the question: Why do people choose your business over another?

Typically, initially, it’s because you offer something they want or need. It could be a great product, or an affordable service, or convenience, something. But people stick around because they find value in being your customer and, I’d wager, because you have created some sort of connection with them.

They like being your customer.

But what do you do when that in-person connection is not possible, or when the number of people with whom you would like to connect exceeds your physical ability to do so?

Then you have to get creative and use some different tactics.

For instance, look below this post to the one entitled “We Asked . . . You Tweeted!” My pals here at Concur Breeze decided that one way to engage their audience was to have a contest, asking people to tweet what they would rather do instead of filing out an expense report. It was a great idea for a contest and they received some very clever answers.

I love contests as a way to connect with your audience because 1) They are an indication that you are not just some faceless, nameless corporation, and 2) They are fun, people like them, and they like winning. From a business perspective, they are also an excellent way to show your customers that you appreciate them and offer more than your service or product – that yours is a special business worthy of their attention.

If you want to have a contest, here are some steps to follow:

1. Choose wisely, grasshopper: Your contest must do two things. First, it must be relevant to your business. A bakery can have a banana bread recipe contest, but probably not a ‘Win an iPod’ contest. Second, the contest must be of interest to your people.

2. Have clear rules and deadlines: Make it fair and judge it fairly.

3. Have a great prize: It should be something people want.

4. Promote the heck out of it: Tweet it, post it in your shop, send out an e-blast, and so on. The recognition of the contest alone is valuable marketing.

Now, where’s that banana bread?

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