The importance of long-term engagement with your audience

On May 25th 1961, JFK announced:

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth."

A bold statement, but the challenge was set and in 1969 they achieved what they set out to do. America put the first man on the moon, with Apollo 11. And it was huge. The world stopped to watch and there were global celebrations.

The intention was to launch 20 Apollos, but it was cut after the sixth manned landing. Not because of a major catastrophe, but because the public - their audience - had lost interest. It no longer affected them and as a result, the budgets were cut.

Despite having a globally recognised brand, with massive PR  and a very unique offer to the world, the Apollo missions ceased to have any impact on people’s lives and failed to continue the engagement. They had achieved their objective of a manned landing, but not achieved their long-term goal of 20 missions.

Being focused on just the short-term is a mistake that many businesses make. Whether you are a startup that has launched with great impact and press coverage, or a startup preparing for that big launch, or even an established brand entering into a new market, you can learn a lot from this sentiment.

Even when you have something truly remarkable, your business will not enjoy long-term customer engagement and growth, unless you have some of these fundamentals in place:

  • A strategy to attract AND retain customer interest
  • A proposition that appeals to the motivations, challenges and needs of your customers
  • A demonstrable and clear differentiator based on that customer need
  • A value proposition and product that continues to grow and offer more to meet the customers’ evolving needs
  • A business plan that focuses beyond the launch (see Top Tips for Startups for more advice)
  • An aligned and well thought-out marketing and communications plan that engages the right audience, at the right time, with the right message
  • Partners, advocates & influencers to keep sharing the story
  • Objectives with measurable KPIs

Regardless of the publicity gained from the launch, a long-term communications plan is needed to create continued awareness, engagement and action. Without it, those engaged at the start will soon lose interest and move on. And NASA would’ve have done well to follow the above advice.

It sounds obvious, but so many businesses are focused on the short-term. They want to get their MVP ready and into the market. Understandable, given that the quicker you get to market, the better positioned you are to make a return. However, long-term relationships with customers will ensure you reap long-term success - and that requires a well-thought out strategy.

NASA had a great story - the FIRST man on the moon was the hook. But had they considered their long-term communications objectives, their story could've continued long into the future. We might even be able to remember the second, third, fourth, fifth and so on, men who achieved the incredible undertaking of a moon landing.

In summary, long-term success is not guaranteed. Just because everyone is excited about your launch and you have fantastic publicity, it’s important to think about the long-term vision, growth plan and most importantly the interests of the customer. Like we always say “even the best disruptive technologies, products and marketing campaigns will not fly if they do not target the right audience, in the right way. And most importantly, we believe getting this right is essential for ensuring all investments deliver a long-term return.

If you would like support in building a communications strategy, Tidal Marketing can help you.

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