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Take five: Effective engagement on a reduced budget

Budgets are tight, but you still need to get your message heard. Clare Bingham, engagement and operations director at FMI shares her top tips…

Cost saving and cost-effective engagement campaigns are at the top of everyone’s priority list at the moment. The effects of coronavirus have left a lot of brands understandably feeling reluctant to part with budgets, and instead are now focusing on finding the most financially viable way of getting their message heard.

Reduced sales and marketing budgets mean that brands and marketeers now have a lot less to play with when it comes to achieving strong employee and channel engagement.

While we all continue to navigate the current climate, we’ve shared our top five tips on ensuring positive channel engagement with a decreased budget.

1. Open up your engagement toolbox
There are so many engagement tools at your fingertips that are completely free and already established – the way you use them may just need tweaking.

Social media channels can be utilised in a different way to encourage engagement with staff and communicate key messages quickly and efficiently. Take the campaign we recently delivered for Three UK. With the aim of engaging with call centre staff working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, we had just one week to develop an engagement programme that delivered.

Consequently, a private Facebook group became the most efficient and effective way of helping motivate staff and as a result, we successfully built the ‘Recharge’ community. This is a great example of utilising a free platform and, pairing this with our expert knowledge, we transformed the group into a personalised platform that encouraged engagement among the team, all of whom were working remotely.

Other existing tools that can be used effectively to engage staff include intranets and other existing digital comms channels such as weekly emails etc.

When considering the best way to engage your staff (especially when you’re on a budget), we’d definitely recommend auditing your existing tools and channels and explore whether you’re utilising them to their full potential.

2. Short, sharp and snappy campaigns
The time for long-term campaign planning has definitely been paused for a while! With the world around us evolving at an even more rapid pace than usual, it’s important to be dynamic in your delivery of your campaign.

Unfortunately, launching an incentive or social campaign and leaving it to run its course simply won’t be effective right now, and it certainly won’t be worthy of monetary investment.

It’s really important to be reactive and responsive in real time and be ready to tweak your approach as you go. For example, if your team spans various regions or locations, be mindful of the various lockdown measures or restrictions that could be in place and respond accordingly.

We have seen great success from hard-hitting 10-day incentive campaigns, perfect for delivering product information and video training whilst measuring interactions. Such snappy campaigns can have different launch timings for different audiences and channels.

Equally, being aware of the calendar is essential. Incorporating National Awareness Days and holidays into your campaign and basing activity around this is a great way to boost engagement.

3. Get personal
A huge part of encouraging engagement within your team is showing that you genuinely care about them as individuals. Actively demonstrating to your employees and channels that your brand cares about their interests and priorities and subsequently reflecting this in your communications will in turn encourage them to engage with you.

With many teams working remotely at the moment, the hustle and bustle of a busy office is sadly lost, so try and recreate this through your channels. Showing support is also key; show your team that you are there for them and can provide support should they need it – something that doesn’t require any budget at all.

4. Be authentic
We’re seeing lots of incredibly creative ways brands are engaging with their customers at the moment, but it remains incredibly important to keep front line staff and employees at the forefront of your plan to achieve.

Trying new ways of reengaging with staff remains extremely important to have a happy and motivated team, particularly right now. With this in mind, it’s key not to lose track of your own brand ‘voice’ in the creation of your channel incentives programme.

Don’t just jump on the bandwagon and try to copy what you’ve seen another brand do, be true to your brand and your staff and take the time to consider what will really work and resonate with them. This will leverage true brand advocacy.

5. Be selective
If your goal really is to preserve cash, be realistic about the elements of the programme you actually need agency support on. Perhaps you need support getting product training into retail but have existing content that can be repurposed.

You should only pay for what you really need or what you think you’d be unable to deliver internally. Bear in mind however, that sometimes, cutting costs can result in making more work for yourself than you realistically don’t have time for.

Experts can quickly and efficiently get the job done – budget or no budget – and will likely only come back to you once the job has been completed.