Engagement is crucial for a small business. It's important to be connected and communicative with your audience, employees, vendors, board members and competitors.
Here's a list of engagement essentials to ensure that your small business is communicating in the best ways possible:
Being transparent about your thoughts and goals will build your audience. However, there’s a a fine line when it comes to transparency, so be selective about what you reveal. Ask yourself, “Is this actually important to my audience?” Also, your goal is to create a conversation, so encourage your audience to respond.
Create an unprecedented dramatic device
Creativity pioneer Arthur Kohler explained that the measure of an artists’ originality is the extent to which his work deviates from the norm. Audiences love the unexpected.
To really surprise your audience, don't just do the opposite of what they expect. In his book, Advanced Genius Theory, Jason Hartley writes, “If your audience expects you to go one way and you go the opposite way, it’s basically doing the same thing. It doesn’t take much imagination to do the opposite. But to do something that is completely off the spectrum like a Victoria’s Secret commercial or a Christmas record, you blow them away.” Constantly challenge yourself to create something completely unpredictable.
Wake up your audience
Pundits doubted Obama, arguing, “He’s just a community organizer.” Even so, Obama created an audience of sixty-nine million fans. Take a page out of his book and incite your audience with a few specific and narrow goals.
The word “engage” comes from the French engagier, meaning, “under pledge.” What pledge is your small business making? Don’t give your audience the opportunity to be passive. Create an attitude and a series of goals that will encourage people to pay attention to you.
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Be a human mirror
Take your unique experience and put it out there for people to relate to. In an interview with American Songwriter, Bruce Springsteen explained, “The audience and the artist are valuable to one another as long as you can look out there and see yourself, and they look back and see themselves.” Don’t try to become who you think the audience wants you to become. Be yourself and the right audience will relate to you.
Whenever you get onstage, whatever that stage may be, converse as if you're talking directly to one person. As long as you’re not overly self-indulgent, it’s always satisfying to watch an artist be himself.
Understand your role
Comic writer Alan Moore said, “If the audience knew what they needed, they’d be the artists.” It’s not your job to tell consumers how to consume you; it’s your job to provide what they need. They'll meet you in the middle.
Commitment and consistency
Having an audience means having a responsibility to show up for them. If you abandon them -- by not updating, upgrading, respecting or listening to them -- they will stop paying attention. Stay accountable to the people who lend you their ears.
Scott Ginsberg, aka "The Nametag Guy," is the author of twelve books, award-winning blogger and the creator of NametagTV.com. Featured on CNN, USA Today, Inc. and FastCompany, he advises companies on how to convert approachability into profitability. For more info about books, seminars, custom identity collages, online training programs or to rent Scott's brain for a one-on-one session, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.