We’ve all been there: that moment when you’re eagerly chatting someone up about farming when suddenly they start to fidget, their eyes dart around, and you’d place to 10:1 odds that they’re thinking about anything else other than you.
They’ve completely disengaged from the conversation and your impact and influence went from a solid ice cube to a puddle on the floor.
Went what wrong?
Engagement occurs when people make an emotionally based choice to connect and listen.
Disengagement – or “emotional detachment and/or objectivity” – is NOT something you want to happen when you’re trying to educate and influence consumers.
To engage your consumer audience you need to learn how to intrigue, resonate, and nurture.
Disengagement results from a lack of awareness and poor communication. Alan Alda, author of “If I Understood You, Would I Have This Look on My Face?” (which pretty much sums up the hallmark of disengagement), says, “Communication doesn’t take place because you told somebody something. It takes place when you observe them closely and track their ability to follow you.” Communicating is a multi-step and multi-faceted process consisting of, among other things, listening, observing, tantalizing, and talking.
There’s great business value to engagement; companies in other industries strategically plan for it both internally and externally. Externally, engagement helps them build their tribe and that tribe helps propel the business forward.
When you interact with consumers on behalf of Canadian agriculture, you are essentially acting as a brand builder, a brand influencer, and an industry leader. Therefore, your goal is to build deeper connections with consumers (value) by creating communications strategies that intrigue, resonate, and nurture – key ingredients in the engagement recipe.
Step 1: Intrigue
To intrigue your listener you first need to relate. Relating consists of active listening, honing your emotion reading skills, and recognizing that you are subject to the Curse of Knowledge. “Relating is letting all that seep into you and have an effect on how you respond to the other person,” says Alda. Once you ‘read the room’, you can decide what information to lead with and how. The knowledge you gather on this exploratory end of the relationship will help you determine how best to approach your audience and how to frame your messages appropriately.
Step 2: Resonate
Learning how to resonate emotionally with your listeners allows you to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level after you’ve hooked them. Resonating takes relating a step further by analyzing the data you’ve gathered (their levels of knowledge and trust and their emotional investment), and use it to build a two-way communication path. While relating is learning to be attuned to cues from your listener to better hone your message, resonating is discovering the best tools, words, and manner to do so. The result you’re looking for? “Emotional words can often turn a recital of the facts into something more engaging that will stick in the mind…and make it more memorable. And why tell them something we think is important if we don’t want them to remember it?” Wise words, Alan Alda!
Step 3: Nurture
One of the typical mindsets in low-engagement corporate cultures is the “can we survive?” mindset where people are scrambling for options and solutions because they haven’t planned well enough and, consequently, can’t meet their goals. In high-engagement cultures the focus is more on “how can we improve?” where they focus on what could be, potential opportunities, and strategizing how to meet those opportunities and goals. Leaders of high-engagement cultures understand the importance of developing communications plans that are clear, concise, and impactful. Those are the type of communications that will nurture the relationships (tribes) you’ve worked so hard to build in step one and two. And it’s those tribes and brand ambassadors that will search you out for credible information moving forward and help you build the Canadian ag brand.
Now, take those ice cubes, put them in a few drinks, and invite people to have a conversation with you!