New Media Requires New Engagement Strategies

September 24th, 2015 Posted by brand marketing, digital tools, Insight, Retail brand building, retail brand relevance, shopper behavior 0 comments on “New Media Requires New Engagement Strategies”

It’s time to re-think traditional communications

Study after study confirms this recurring theme: conventional food marketing communications built around self-reverential “me, me, me” sales messages that assert benefits such as quality and taste just won’t cut it anymore.

Consumers routinely ignore, eliminate and may soon block exposure to the daily barrage of self-promotion that works in direct opposition to real engagement and relationship.

So what actually penetrates the effort to avoid traditional selling?

In today’s fractured and cluttered media environment, people want to be –

  • Informed
  • Helped
  • Entertained
  • Equipped

The hallmark quality of communication that meets its audience with open arms has one common denominator: Editorial Sensibility.

Consumers interact with media that walks and talks a certain way – in a word, authentic. Stories that comes across as credible, believable, honest and importantly, useful. Whether the form is visual, video or narrative, the underlying paradigm remains the same. We ALL want content that cares. That’s where real engagement (and trust) begins.

Help Us, Don’t Hype Us!

Yet despite overwhelming evidence that informative, useful communication beats self-promotion, the vast majority of food, beverage and retail outreach is hung up on outmoded strategies that focus on ‘buy me’ more than ‘help you.’

First, it’s important to note, that Content Marketing is the only marketing left that can meet the relevance litmus test consumers increasingly apply – while choosing whether or not to engage.

Where to start? The right path to real relationships and thus sustainable growth begins with lifestyle relevance and insight into the passions, concerns and needs of your users and shoppers – followed by a fierce devotion (and editorial voice) to help over hype.

How do media properties in the digital age aggregate audiences and hold onto them? By continually producing useful, thoughtful content that greets the readers’ hearts and minds in a meaningful way.

The same rules apply to food and beverage brands. If your communication starts to look and sound like editorial media – with accompanying high standards of credibility, honesty and reader benefit value – you’re on the way to doing the one thing many brands miss: truly mattering to their users.

It goes without saying, brands-that-matter acquire staying power and permission to ‘sell’ to their users, if you will. Businesses that ultimately don’t deliver meaning to users are relegated to commodity status and driven by price.

If you were to adopt editorial sensibility as a framework for outreach strategies to really engage your audience, what would that look like?


Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for  higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

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