Getting to a Customer Engagement Mindset

Customer engagement is the Holy Grail for marketers investing time and resources in programs and tactics to enhance and deepen relationships.

But many marketers are stuck in an activity mindset, focused more on delivering on the event calendar and filling up the client reference database than the strategic conversation they want to have with their valued clients.

Over time, operating in this tactical way can undermine all of the good efforts to engage with clients. (See my previous post Customer Engagement:  it’s More than a Bunch of Activities for more on the differences between an activity mindset and an engagement mindset and why it matters).

For those marketers looking to make the shift, here are some ideas on where to start.

How to Identify an Engagement Mindset 

Before we jump into the solutions, here is a quick recap on the difference between an activity focus and an engagement focus—and how to tell where you fit on the spectrum.


Getting Started on the Road to Engagement

A true transformation to an engagement mindset requires a full scale reorientation of the business to be customer-driven; a strategy focused from the outside-in rather than from the inside-out.

But if you are stuck in a sea of programs and activities with such a transformation still on the distant horizon, there are ways to evolve your approach to draw from the lessons of an engagement mindset.

Map your customer programs and touch points.

Detail out a realistic view of all of your marketing activities, including:

  • which customers they are currently touching;
  • which customers you want them to reach;
  • the strategic and tactical purpose and outcomes of each—for your customers and for you;
  • the kinds of input and learnings you gain from each—and what you would ideally like to gain;
  • their alignment to the business strategy.

Evaluate your most strategic customers.

Create a similar map for each of your most strategic and valuable customers to understand from their perspective what the touchpoints look like now, how those align to their needs and challenges, and where there are holes for connecting with them, collaborating and tapping their insight.

Assess the gaps, overlaps and opportunities for engaging.

Combine those perspectives to look for places of overlap and areas of confusion that you can streamline, as well as gaps and places to connect and fill in to enhance customer engagement in the context of your customers’ needs and priorities.

Identify the low-hanging fruit for synergy and integration.

Start with a couple of slam dunk or high impact programs or activities to weave together a client-centered view that will help you engage more effectively with your most important clients.

This is more than a calendar exercise—it involves planning content, extracting and sharing client inputs and program outcomes to cross-pollinate and enhance the relevance and value of the elements.

Pilot an approach that you can use to educate and gain broader buy in later. And ask your clients for feedback and input on this effort—their guidance can save you time and effort and get you closer to the mark.

Go after the insights and feedback.

One of the most important aspects of an engagement mindset is two-way dialog.

At a minimum, you can begin to greatly enhance the value of your activities for yourself and for your customers if you start to identify, assemble and analyze what you are already learning about and hearing from clients across your existing activities and program elements.

Whether it is…

  • discussions and break outs at events;
  • strategic advice at a client advisory board meeting;
  • comments in testimonials and case studies; or
  • explicit feedback in customer surveys

It all contributes to the conversation with your clients, and helps to outline a path forward to continue to engage and to take action where it matters.


This evolution to an engagement mindset may seem daunting, but your clients already share with you much of what you need to know to make the shift—and they will look forward to partnering with you to get there.  After all, this means more value for both of you.

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