The 7 Levels of Engagement for Marketers

November 8, 2018

Editor’s Note: This guest post was contributed by Amanda Slavin, CEO, CatalystCreativ.

Engagement is the bedrock of all meaningful connection. It is the foundation of how you build a relationship, (i.e., think about when you get “engaged” to the person you want to commit the rest of your life to), and yet we don’t have a common definition that guides us regarding what engagement actually means.

Engagement is used ubiquitously for so many actions. Digital marketers talk about engagement as in comments, likes, shares followers and posts, as do most of the tools we utilize to connect with our customers.

Event marketers have a hard time defining engagement, but they will tell you that physical events are an amazing touch point to emotionally connect with your customer. Look up engagement marketing and Wikipedia will actually tell you engagement marketing is synonymous with experiential marketing.

HR professionals will talk to you about employee engagement, and the major issues we have with disengagement in the workplace. According to Gallop, 87% of employees are disengaged in the workplace, which is costing America $350 billion, and since your employees are also your potential brand advocates, disengaged employees leads to disengaged brand advocates.

Most people, however, can agree on one thing, and that is disengagement is the opposite of engagement.

But I am not most people. Disengagement is not the opposite of engagement’ it is the first of seven distinct levels of engagement. You are probably sitting at your computer, thinking I may be disengaged soon if you don’t tell me what you are talking about…

So let’s recap. Engagement is important. Everyone is talking about engagement, but everyone has a different definition. But I will tell you that disengagement is not the opposite of engagement. I bet you are more confused than when you started reading this article, but no fear there is an antidote to your worries.

This is why my company and I adapted a taxonomy, or categorization system, from two professors, Robert Bangert-Drowns and Curtis Pyke. We have tested this system and adapted it over the past 10 years with multiple brands, nonprofits, startups and executives. This framework will change the way you think about yourself and your relationships with your customers, your parents, your colleagues, your employees, your boss, and your husband or wife. Since engagement is the foundation of how we build relationships, shouldn’t we FINALLY have a common definition that helps us understand how do we transform our passive relationships to active participants who help us create a meaningful life?

Let’s think about what the world looks like without engagement for a minute. As I mentioned, disengagement is not the opposite of engagement, but is actually the first level in the Seventh Level Engagement framework.

So if disengagement is not the opposite of engagement, what is? Apathy is. Apathy is the enemy of engagement. We so often believe that are our customers are not salvageable when they are disengaged, which is wrong. There is still hope when your customer/employee/partner is disengaged, but we end up settling. By settling and not putting time and energy into that relationship, our customers/employees/ best friends/ partners could easily slide from disengaged to apathetic.

So what is the point of the Seventh Level Engagement framework and how can it help you? Think of yourself as Luke Skywalker, and the Seventh Level Engagement framework as Yoda, the guide that is going to help you become your very best self and connect with others in a way that will change the way you look at yourself and the world.

We are all striving for meaningful relationships that help us grow; whether that means emotional growth, or financial growth, we want our customers/employees/acquaintances to mean something. That is the Seventh Level. The Seventh Level is called literate thinking, and is defined when you are pulling from your personal narratives/beliefs/values to find meaning, and ultimately align with a message.

We thought we reached the summit of engagement, but in reality, we are still at base camp, settling for lower levels of engagement without even realizing what is possible.

Over the next few posts, I will be sharing not only how to apply the seventh level engagement framework to your own life, but I will also be walking you through who is doing it right, and how to leverage the Seventh Level Engagement Framework to help you with marketing, sales and internal brand development.

Follow the Seventh Level Engagement Framework and you will find meaningful connections that inspire, ignite and empower you are right around the corner, you just didn’t have the right lens to activate them.

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