By Dale Filhaber

Marketing people want to create relationships; salespeople just want to close the sale. Consumers have so many more choices than ever before. There is tremendous competition in the water quality market and many products and services offer similar features. People shop online to get the best price and expect you to match it. The end result is that it gets harder and harder to close that sale, based simply on product features and price.

To move past this, today’s marketing needs to build relationships that override basic features and price. In the old days, we called that building rapport. Nowadays, we call it building engagement. Unlike traditional approaches to marketing, where you specifically target prospects with direct-response offers to convert the sale and sell them a system, engagement marketing allows your audience and potential customers to interact with you, shape how they would like to communicate and develop a relationship.

The overriding concept is that people will buy a system from you because they trust you. And how do they learn to trust you? Through engagement marketing, in which you create that trust by driving your interested audience toward these goals:

  • Encouraging a dialogue with the individual to help them make a purchase decision. An engaged customer is likely to become a loyal repeat customer.
  • Cultivating the individual as an advocate of your thought leadership and market image. You want to develop a cadre of advocates that will recommend your dealership enthusiastically to their network of friends and business colleagues.
    Here are 10 easy tips on engagement marketing to attract customers and build their trust.

1. Develop an engagement plan
To be successful, you need to start with a clear strategy, plan and approach for your engagement marketing. Your plan will have to include how you will reach out to your audience, which media you will use and how you will be able to respond and interact with your engaged participants.

2. Integrate with your marketing mix
All aspects of your marketing communications need to blend together seamlessly, which is why your engagement plan is so important. Every outreach in your arsenal needs to include a ‘call to action’ for engagement. Use direct mail, email, social media and even telemarketing, where it’s appropriate for your outreach. Try to move your audience from one marketing channel to another to increase engagement. (

3. Focus on content and relationship
Your audience needs to feel that you are providing them with information they can’t get from anyone else. That’s why they are hanging on your every word! Building genuine relationships by providing great content that is important to the individual is the best way of achieving the two key goals of engagement marketing: creating loyalty and being the expert.

4. Become a thought leader
Expand your reach by becoming a guest blogger or commentator on other sites. Consider writing articles for trade magazines or speaking about water quality at the local chamber of commerce or PTA. These actions give you more credibility and opportunity for additional interactions.

5. Grow your list
Use permission-based techniques to encourage subscriptions to your own email list so you can reach out to customers and prospects via email, phone or direct mail. Ways to do this may include contest entries, subscription registration, water testing and bottle drops, or using a lead magnet to drive interest. Then, add look-alikes to your list, using rented prospect lists ( for both mail and electronic marketing.

6. Invite listeners to interact with your blog
Establish a culture and enthusiasm for engagement by encouraging your audience to contribute with comments and suggestions to your blogs and posts. This helps them connect with you even further and their comments get broadcast to their network, which further increases your reach with their connected communities.

7. Conduct surveys and polls
Run surveys from time to time to give your customers and prospect audiences opportunities to tell you what they think. This is another way to initiate engagement for learning from and about your listening community. Use surveys or web polls to start the dialogue that is relevant to the individual.

8. Engage with social networking on the appropriate sites
For business-to-business (B2B), use LinkedIn. If your goal is to attract consumers, try Facebook and Instagram. If you’re looking for a younger consumer segment, consider Snapchat. Remember, in social networking, you are not hard-selling but rather engaging with people in their own interest areas, with the goal that they share your content with their own networks. For example, the Larry David clip I emailed to my social networks in the water industry was shared hundreds of times, which broadened my outreach in the industry tremendously. (

9. Marketing on social sites
Marketing on social sites is not the same as networking and posting puppy pictures. This is the opportunity to boost your outreach to look-alike audiences and start the engagement process on social media sites using sponsored posts and ads.

10. After the sale
Encourage customers to give you great reviews on your products and services and share those reviews with their networks.

Remember, once you have an interested community engaging with you, make sure you keep the lines of communication going. In this way, you can learn and adjust your strategy to ensure your engagement marketing will deliver bottom-line results to your business by increasing your customer base and repeat sales from your engaged customers. Make them trust you. And then they will buy from you.

About the author
Dale ‘DataDale’ Filhaber is President of Dataman Group Direct, a Florida-based direct marketing company founded in 1981. She is an author, lecturer, listologist and direct-marketing innovator. In the past 30+ years, Filhaber has trained many water quality dealers in direct marketing and lead generation techniques, ranging from direct mail to telemarketing to social media. Her latest book, Lead Generation for Water Quality Dealers, has received rave reviews and can be purchased at Filhaber is also the author of Pure Water Profits, a blog on marketing focusing on the water treatment industry. She is also a frequent guest lecturer at the annual WQA conference. Filhaber can be reached by phone, (800) 771-3282 or email, [email protected] or visit Dataman Group Direct is proud to showcase, (, a dedicated website focusing on lead generation and direct marketing for the water quality industry.


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