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"The mission is going to be to move it to action," says Ray Pettit, who has been managing the ARF's efforts since last September when Joe Plummer stepped down as chief research officer, and the de facto head of its engagement efforts.
The first step in that next step, says Pettit, will be to publish a report cataloging the key insights mined from the past four years of disparate engagement research studies catalogued by the ARF, and to turn it into specific action points that can be applied by marketers. The report will be released on the April 2, the last day of the ARF's annual "Re-Think" conference in New York.
"If there is a message here, it's that we want people to take what we've learned and make it there own," he says, saying the new report will be a blueprint for marketers and agencies to build their own research and applications. The core of the learning, he says, will be based on what "six or seven" leading companies have done in the field, and how others can learn from their experiences. Pettit says the report will include best practices gleaned from companies such as Bayer, Kellogg, McCormick , Conagra and the postal service, as well as a couple of false starts, such as an initiative begun but not completed by Ford Motor Co.
The new Engagement Council, meanwhile, will focus on next generation projects, including collaboration with the Direct Marketing Association to learn how engagement relates to and influences direct marketing.
"So far, engagement has been a concept. What we want people to do now is apply it in action, and see what kind of results they get from it. Unfortunately, it's not something that can be boiled down to a single definition, or a number or a rule of thumb," says Pettit, who is an executive with marketing mix modeling firm MarketShare Partners, and also plans to wind down his association with the ARF. The ARF, meanwhile, is said to be close to naming a new chief research officer to replace Plummer.
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