Rules of (Customer) Engagement

Morgan Lathaen April 21, 2021
Rules of (Customer) Engagement

So, you want to engage your customers and prospects…great!

Unfortunately, the average office worker is bombarded with roughly 121 business emails each day along with countless phone calls, texts, and direct mail. Your odds of breaking through are about as slim as a can of White Claw®.

What’s worse is many businesses make the mistake of centering their message around their company rather than their customers. They also attempt to communicate in a format convenient for them rather than tailored to their audience. With so much competition for attention, it’s critical to make every touchpoint worthwhile. Not doing so is the quickest way to burn an opportunity.

Whenever we develop a campaign here at Thumbprint, either for ourselves or a client, we subject it to the “Should My Audience Care Test” (SMACT). Here are the questions we ask to ensure we maximize customer engagement:

Is it Relevant?

In an age where information and knowledge are so readily available, people aren’t seeking education but rather understanding and compassion.

Demonstrating an understanding of your audience and their challenges is critical. Can you define their pain point? Does it keep them awake at night, and more importantly, should it? Are they facing this challenge right now? Can you empathize with their situation?

The key here is market research and message segmentation. It always makes us cringe whenever someone pitches us a solution to a problem we don’t have. Besides being uncomfortable, it also tells us that the person is more interested in selling us something rather than trying to help us solve a problem.

Is it Personalized?

A recent study from ZoomInfo indicated that 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that delivers personalized content.

There was a time when it didn’t make financial sense to dissect a target market across so many attributes. But with the marketing automation and printing technology available now, there’s really no penalty for catering to more narrowly defined segments.

Create messages, offers, and experiences that appeal to specific segments. When possible, offer every opportunity to empower your front-line teams and allow them to customize collateral and experiences to their customers. After all, they know them best.

For instance, Thumbprint offers online technology that allows sales teams to customize print collateral and presentations with different images and predefined text. This helps them speak directly to the specific needs of their clients.

AR mini game
Here’s an example of an AR game we featured in a recent campaign.

Does it Create a Connection?

To break through all the peripheral noise, it’s imperative you find a way to instantly connect with your target audience. Consumers pay attention to content that captures their imagination. Harness the power of imagery, emotions, and empathy to help people identify with your message.

Storytelling and edutainment are great tools that can simplify complex concepts. At Thumbprint, we like incorporating AR and VR into our customers’ campaigns to offer immersive experiences that bring more traditional offline marketing assets to life. (more on multichannel campaigns below).

One note of warning: remember your goal is to help your audience solve a problem they’re having. When creating a connection, make sure you remain authentic. You’re not fooling anyone if you’re intent is disingenuous.

Is the Timing Right?

When will your audience most likely need your product/service? That’s when you should present it.

Instant gratification continues to be a driving force in purchasing behavior. According to a recent study from Salesforce, 70% of customers say convenience is more important than branding. Your products/services need to be timely. Too soon and memory decay will become a significant factor. Too late and you may be…well, too late.

Incidentally, this is why promotional products are so effective. Practical branded items have a long shelf life and offer a repeat, on-demand experience that isn’t always possible via online channels.

Click the image to watch our 2021 Hype Video.

Is it Multidimensional?

Be sure to utilize multiple channels in your campaigns. Complementary communication/experiences delivered in tandem allow your audience to interact with your brand on their terms. People engage and learn in different ways – visual, audio, tactical, experiential – so try to hit a number of these “senses.”

We strongly encourage you to include at least one creative and unexpected experience in your campaign. This can either grab the attention of your customers or reinforce a message. Think outside the box. During a recent campaign, we sent boxing gloves to a select group of clients to illustrate a “Come out swinging” message. Recipients were floored, and many of them immediately reached out to us after receiving them.

Ideally, you’ll want these multiple touchpoints to happen sequentially. Message frequency will help you break through the peripheral noise surrounding your audiences and increase the likelihood your message will land at a time when your customer is able to engage and respond.


The most essential key to engagement is proper execution. The most engaging campaigns take time and organization to put together. Many companies believe they have the bandwidth but often fall short on one or more of the SMACT engagement drivers above.

Consider partnering with a brand logistics specialist to outsource the heavy lifting. Not only can they help you create and distribute branded items, such as direct mail, gifts, and digital experiences, but they can also integrate with your existing customer engagement workflows.

For example, your partner can automatically attach shipment tracking info to a contact’s activity record in a CRM and create a follow-up task for the lead/account owner once the package has been delivered.


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