Cybernetics, Marketing and Consumer Engagement

In today’s economy, companies don’t just want to communicate to consumers, they want to converse. Interest and trust are two interdependent variables which facilitate this transaction. Being a triple bottom line company paves the way for this.

This post looks at Pangaro’s and Wenzek’s (P&W) CLEAT framework.

P&W start by surveying today’s marketing context: from targeting markets precisely, to mixed channel strategies with decentralized interaction to the expectations of consumers.

P&W expand consumer benefit to include benefits of conversation from changing ideas, and understandings to changes aims, and actions.

Generally, we find that theories of communication and conversation apply more broadly to marketing than they did before, and consumers behave differently through different stages of the conversation.



P&W emphasize who, when, how and what.  Collecting information streams can help us identify a target audience.  For large businesses, big data, histories and broader market information can provide clues.  However, for small business, this may involve some intuition, experimentation and small scale research.


Precise language is efficient.  It allows consumers to jump on board, and travel to the destination.  P&W give some attributes of language such as ‘Level of abstraction’ and ‘Vocabulary’.  Attributes such as this serve many purposes; for example, ‘insider’ language is both inclusive and exclusive.


Exchanges are dynamic and living.  How do they evolve?  Any number of metaphors might serve this analysis.  P&W point out that this exchange is ripe for generating insights about customers.  In fact, used properly it is like free research.


Structure, novelty, value, trust.  P&W emphasize clarity regarding purpose and outcome.  However, I’d point out that this clarity can be ‘soft’.  In other words, purpose is not always about selling, or informing.  A purposeful and collective transcendence of purpose may open the door for greater humanizing and agreement between a company and customer.


P&W point out that a commercial transaction is the final step, but also the beginning of the next iteration.

P&W give a set of important primary, secondary, and supporting metrics at each stage of the CLEAT conversation.

My conclusions

Engaging as a triple bottom line company opens the doors wide open for conversation.  This is because there is broader room for shared vision and trust development between consumers and companies.  Further, incremental investment includes non-commercial transaction, building and leveraging relationships.  In this arena, transactions fall on an expanded spectrum of goals, with greater room for emergence, and decentralized communication.  On the one hand, this increases the demand for data, while on the other, intuition, knowledge, and trust become more important; and we can hope that with this, companies gain popularity for a wider variety of reasons.

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