Once we have defined our Value Strategy, we must now devise which is the best way to engage the community with it. Sometimes the simplest answer is also the best: simply start talking to them directly, but in other cases it might be best to use the knowledge which we have accumulated through observation to change some other marketing communications activity.
Direct outreach case study
We once had a client who asked us to monitor Internet communities around the launch of its ADSL offering. We found that some of the early adopter were questioning the language on the contract, suspecting wrongdoing on the part of our client.
Obviously the Value Strategy in this case consisted in a clearer contract language, so once the leagl department of the Client produced a clearer text, we suggested an official representative for our Client should start posting on the community, asking their feedback on the new text BEFORE they incorporated in the standard contract.
In this case the official status of the poster was needed not only for ethical reasons, but also to add credibility to the offer.
The engagement was a roaring success, because it gave out two positive messages: one was that the company was caring about its user community enough to listen to them, and the second was that it was flexible enough to change its ways to become easier to do business with.
Developing an engagement plan requires careful weighing of several factors, including the hostility the community might be already experiencing towards the client.