Want to build engagement? Think like a marketer. (Part 1)

Hello, my name is Doug Berkowitz, and I’m a recovering direct marketer.

Two years ago, I switched from a 14-year career in marketing services to become SVP of Operations at LifeSpeak, where we work with our clients to help their employees be healthy, happy, and productive. Since then, I’ve been privileged to see, watch and learn how our clients are generating engagement in the HR programs that they work so hard to provide. And what I’ve come to understand is that building engagement with employees is much like selling your product to the public, so why not apply key direct marketing rules to building engagement? That’s what I want to talk about with you.

In my former life, we had a rule of thumb about the drivers of a direct marketing campaign’s response rate:

  • 60% is from picking an audience who will find your product relevant to them
  • 20% is from the offer
  • 10% is from the product
  • 5% is from the general marketing piece’s design, and
  • 5% is from the copy

As HR professionals, your “audience” is a fixed variable—your employee base. The “offer” is typically a premium reduction or prize, which costs you real dollars out of your budget (a budget that I am guessing isn’t as much as you need). The “product” is the portfolio of programs you offer. The “design” is not only how good the communication looks, but how he or she accesses it. The copy still follows the same rules for marketing to your employees as it does for selling to your prospect list. I will cover each of these areas in more detail over the coming weeks.

I want to leave you with this hypothesis leading in to the next chapter in this series:

If a potential customer isn’t naturally interested in your product (in this case, your benefit or wellness program), your offer is going to have to be extremely valuable to them to overcome the inertia. Therefore, the more you can deliver a product that is relevant to your audience, the lower the incentive cost needs to be.

With that hypothesis in mind, how do you foster high engagement in your program if you are solely focused on providing the content that the company wants to address? (Hint: you probably don’t.) I look forward to the next installment to explore that.

More articles in this series