Engage to Win: A book review by Bob Morris

Engage to Win: A Blueprint for Success in the Engagement Economy
Steve Lucas
Greenleaf Book Group Press (2018)

How to provide much more value to your customers and to your organization

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu asserts that every battle is won or lost before it is fought. In the business world, those who control the terms of engagement have a significant competitive advantage. In fact, I am convinced that an organization’s relationships with its employees and customers is more important now than ever before. Gallup’s surveys indicate that, on average, less than 30% of a U.S. Company’s workforce are actively and positively engaged; the others are either passively engaged (“mailing it in”) or actively disengaged, undermining the success of their company. I agree with Jackie Huba that an organization must do all it can to create what they characterize as “customer evangelists” but that is much more difficult each day.

Steve Lucas offers a blueprint for success in the engagement economy. “The sole purpose of this book is to explain how you can provide more value to your existing and potential customers, thus raising their lifetime value for you and your organization.”

What to do and how to do it? Where to begin?

“In Step 1, you need to listen to your customers and prospects, every minute of every day, forever…Then, you translate that listening into learning. That’s Step 2. You should be able to say, ‘After we talked to a lot of people, I heard potential customers say they want this; they don’t like that.’ And then you take Step 3, acting on what you’ve learned. Act on those insights by engaging with your buyers the way they want you to, when they want you to.” Lucas explains HOW.

Over the years, I have helped clients obtain this information and can personally attest to the practical value of this approach. What I learned about what customers want…and don’t want…is corroborated by a number of major research surveys. Not surprisingly, customers (as well as employees) rank “feeling appreciated” either first or second when indicating what is of greatest importance to them. As for price (as well as compensation), they rank it ninth to fourteenth.

For thousands of years, the primary function of marketing has been to create or increase demand for whatever is offered. Lucas suggests that we are all living in a new era. “The idea behind the Engagement Economy. is simple but profound. We are living in a new era, a digital world where everyone and everything is connected, enabling changes, in buyer sentiment literally second by second. This has caused a fundamental shift in relationships not only between buyers and sellers but across entire organizations. Customers, prospects, employees, and partners are also affected.” That is why it is so difficult — but not impossible — to create customer evangelists. Lucas explains HOW.

He suggests that there are new rules of engagement: Listen, Learn, Act (Engage), Remember who is in control (customers), and Define (core values). He also suggests reasons why engagement improves the ROI of marketing initiatives: Win more customers faster, keep them longer, weaken competition, build a barrier to competition, increase customer share, achieve higher margins, and (yes) create brand advocates. Lucas explains HOW.

Many years ago, then chairman and CEO, Herb Kelleher was asked to explain the extraordinary success of Southwest Airlines. At that time, its profits and cap value were greater than all nine of Southwest’s competitors combined. His response? “We take great care of our people. They take great care of our customers. And our customers take great care if our shareholders.”

It remains for each reader to determine which of Steve Lucas’ material is most relevant to their own organization. That said, I am convinced that the information, insights, and counsel he provides can be of incalculable value to leaders in any organization, whatever its size and nature may be.



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