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enterprise engagement

Big Picture (Winter 2010)

Bruce Bolger

The growing concept of engagement is being fought over by different branches of management. The marketing folks talk about customer and channel partner engagement; the human resources people talk about human capital management, and never the twain shall meet.

When contacting a top Internet communications company recently for an article on using communications to engage, one of our editors ran into an unexpected roadblock. The public relations representative for the company said we couldn’t have access to the company’s President because they perceived that the focus of the EEA was primarily on the employee, while his company focused on customer engagement. This exemplifies one of the greatest challenges facing the Enterprise Engagement movement: silos.

Reflecting the walls that traditionally divide organizations, the growing concept of engagement is being fought over by different branches of management. The marketing folks talk about customer and channel partner engagement; the human resources people talk about human capital management, and never the twain shall meet. The essence of Enterprise Engagement, as the name clearly states (thanks to the contributions of Don Peppers, one of the founders of the Enterprise Engagement Alliance, who helped name the concept), is that engagement is an enterprise-wide issue linking external and internal marketing.

The communication company we sought to interview is a highly visible player in the engagement marketing business, using a combination of permission marketing, e-mail, customer relationship management and data management to help companies build more effective marketing programs. Its website proclaims that it helps companies “develop relationships that build brand loyalty and increase ROI.” The company claims that its marketing programs can build “customers for life.”

According to the fundamental principles of Enterprise Engagement, as outlined in the article, “The Emerging Field of Enterprise Engagement,” on the home page of the EnterpriseEngagement.org portal, is that it’s impossible to create “customers for life” without involving employees. No matter what a company markets, or how, its ultimate success in most cases will depend on the ability of its people to deliver on the promises made in its marketing. Effective e-mail marketing and database management are only half the equation.

Communications companies that only focus on external audiences are missing a big opportunity in the Enterprise Engagement arena. Many organizations have considerable budgets for marketing internally to employees or channel partners, and they need the same kind of e-mail marketing and database integration solutions as consumer marketers to tailor their messages. Having an external-facing communications program with little connection to the internal audience that has to deliver the promises is an invitation for trouble, since such a gap increases the chances that employees will be unable to deliver. This isn’t a problem for traditional external marketing companies; it’s an opportunity – as long as they have people on their teams who have internal marketing experience.

The big challenge: the corporate silos that have long existed between external and internal marketers continue to stand. Even though consumers and employees are all human beings, external and internal marketers often have very different ways of looking at things, and the two sides often don’t cooperate to coordinate messages across the organization.

One of the measures of success for the Enterprise Engagement Alliance is whether our research, outreach and education can break down the traditional barriers – both mental and physical – that stand in the way of seamlessly integrated marketing across the entire organization.

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CA Short

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