Book Excerpt: 'Entangling Brand and Consumer' by Stan Rapp and Sebastian Jespersen

Go Beyond Mere Engagement to Forge Enduring Ties With Customers

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Sebastian Jespersen and Stan Rapp
Sebastian Jespersen and Stan Rapp

Entangling brand and consumer is the new business model for building an enduring, mutually rewarding customer relationship.

At a time when change is the only constant, holding on to what is gospel no longer works. "One-to-one" is yesterday's news. This book is about taking the "to" out of "one-to-one." Tomorrow's pacesetters will be those who create an entangled "one-plus-one" twosome that goes where nobody has ventured before.

Welcome to a new reality where producer and consumer make history together rather than being at opposite ends of a shaky relationship. "Doing with" leaves "doing to" in the dust now that it's so easy for your customers to tell the world how you treat them and what you do for them.

When Lee Nadler, marketing communications manager at the fun-loving Mini car brand, was asked what has changed the most, he replied, "The walls have broken down -- the connection from consumer to brand and from brand to consumer is now direct."

With the barriers that once blocked closeness gone, marketers can think and act in dramatically different ways. But most companies take the wrong approach.

Engagement is not enough. Something more is needed.
People receive an average of 10,000 messages per day. This means the vast majority of what is transmitted becomes irrelevant within seconds. For companies to achieve long-term relationships with customers, they must go far beyond setting engagement as the goal.

Clickers disengage as fast as they engage. They jump to a post on LinkedIn. They watch a video on YouTube. They "like" a promotion on Facebook. They zip to a favored blog. They return to a movie streaming over Netflix. This leaves stop-and-go, online engagement far from delivering a close-knit relationship between producer and consumer. Too often, there is only a short-lived grab for attention.
When connections fade quickly, the return on investment made to engage with prospects and customers is bound to be a disappointment. It's time to move from mere engagement to something more.

Metaphorically, that extra something is what Louisa Guilder writes about in "The Age of Entanglement." She describes two entities in quantum theory with a shared existence. Once entangled, a pair of particles remain inextricably connected. They never let go of one another, no matter their distance apart.

Never letting go of an inextricable link to users is what helped create the behemoths of the internet era. People worldwide enjoy being entangled with what is found at Twitter, Google, Instagram and other favored destinations. They want to be entangled with what Apple and Amazon do for them.

Where it once took generations for an analog era startup to capture lots of believers, now millions can be captured by a brand in the wink of an eye. Looking ahead, the ability to turn early adopters into later loyalists is going to be the critical challenge for "hot" newcomers.

Guess what? You don't have to wait for the future to arrive. You can start a firestorm of your own right now. You can establish a unique, ongoing relationship between your brand and the buyer of your product or service -- something 95% of companies fail to achieve.

The march from mass marketing to one-to-one marketing and digital marketing is moving on to the new era of entangled marketing. It is likely to be as transformative for the business world as the particle entanglement concept was to quantum physicists a century ago.

Entangled marketing
It sounds a bit strange at first. Keep an open mind. Discover the payback possible when brand and consumer share an inseparable value-added connection.

This new business model is as much about an individual wanting to be entangled with the brand as it is the other way around.

Just think how John Hancock Life Insurance and the insured person act as a twosome devoted to extending the policyholder's lifespan.

The healthier a member's lifestyle, the greater the insurance discount and other benefits from John Hancock. Policyholders get a free Fitbit wrist monitor that uploads activity levels and other health care data to both the insured and the insurer. New-found digital tools make the experience an inviting alternative for the participant.

The company and the customer never let go of their special relationship over a lifetime.

John Hancock entangles the policyholder in behavior that adds years to her or his life. The policyholder entangles John Hancock in giving generous cost reductions and other perks tied to a healthy lifestyle.

Everybody wins with an "Entangled Marketing" mindset.

Stan Rapp is a co-founder of agency Rapp Worldwide and a member of the Direct Marketing Association's Hall of Fame. Sebastian Jespersen is the founder of independent digital agency Vertic.

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