Relevance In Marketing – It Easily Eludes Us All

by TedV

Do you feel like your brochures are never read?
Is the response from your advertising lackluster at best?
Do you receive the leads you want from your website?
Do your prospects respond, “Wow! These guys are talking to me!”?

Are you willing to look at things differently to find a possible solution?

Relevance in Marketing requires a target audience and a specialized message.

Oh, really?Work on that long did you, Ted?

That statement is blindingly obvious and the basis for all marketing messages.

So just how do we make a prospect say, “WOW! This is about me”?

Let’s look at those two elements.

Target Audience – Something Marketers Have Understood for Generations

Targeting audiences has been a common marketing practice since the advent of the mailing list.Today list brokers make a tidy living massaging data to produce the “best” lists for their clients’ direct mail campaigns.Of course list quality runs the gamut from outstanding to “you’ve just wasted a lot of money on this mailing.”This is a classic example of you-get-what-you-pay-for.

Your in house list of clients and prospects is the prime starting point for effectively targeting your audience, but there are a number of issues with captured databases.Fortunately, the problems can be overcome.

The net of this- the Target Audience is usually not the problem in achieving true Relevance Marketing.

The Relevant Message – Home of the Dangerous Assumption

After acquiring a prospect list, the marketer usually makes a dangerous assumption.The conversation goes something like this:

“Chris Copywriter.”

“Yes, Ms. Marketing Manager?”

“We just purchased this Desperately-Interested-In-Widgets list from Super Dooper Lists Limited Reg. Pat. Off. Dotcom.Since we know these prospects are interested in widgets, write the best copy you can extolling the virtues of our widgets over every other widget on the market.”

“Right away, sir!”

What follows is usually a terrific features and benefits sales letter with great pictures, 3-D cross sections, and claims of unsurpassed performance.Another given is the obligatory claim of “award winning customer service.”Nowadays you can also include the URL to your video demos.

But that’s not a relevant message, not even to prospects on a recently vetted Super-Interested list.

Interested or not – hot to buy or cold, that’s not the Relevance issue.

Your Message Only Becomes Relevant When It’s About the Prospect, Not the Product.

Once again, a relevant message is about the prospect.Features and benefits are about the product.

Can a well-written features and benefits sales letter sell the product?Of course, particularly to a good list.But remember, traditional direct mail is considered a success if only one percent of the recipients buy.Two percent response is considered outstanding.

98 percent saying, “No Thanks,” doesn’t sound relevant to me.That’s failing 49 times out of 50—on a good day.

There’s no prospects saying, “Wow! This is about me!” in that.

These numbers work in mass mailings—emphasis on mass—selling consumer products, but the math usually doesn’t work for Business-to-Business selling (B-2-B).Why?B-2-B companies rarely have 10,000 prospects to test before sending out a mass mailing.

I work mostly with B-2-B marketing.Some of my prospects have a few dozen potential decision makers on the planet to approach.Those decision makers are inundated with marketing messages from my prospects’ competitors, not to mention countless messages promoting other types of products and services.

If the Chief Engineering Officer for an automaker is concerned with catalytic converter designs, then a marketing message about seat cushion innovations is simply an irritation.

Relevance in Marketing – Not Just B-2-B

Don’t misunderstand me.Relevance in Marketing isn’t the sole purview of B-2-B selling.Consumer sales can benefit from Relevance in Marketing, too, not only in direct mail, but also in print and broadcast advertising, the Internet, and brochure creation.Everywhere.

The important distinction is that B-2-B marketing has to be relevance-based in today’s crowded market place.There’s just too much out there distracting your prospects from your message.

The Long and Short of Relevance In Marketing

A relevant marketing message must be:

  • About the prospects’ interests
  • About the prospects’ concerns
  • About the prospects’ goals
  • About the prospects’ problems
  • About the prospects’ desires
  • About the prospects’ revenue objectives
  • About the prospects’ profitability
  • About the prospects’ prospects

THEN and ONLY THEN is the message relevant.

Simple Relevance Test

If a brochure, ad, web page, or any other marketing message can say, “Wow, this is all about my company and/or my products/services,” then the message is NOT Relevant to the prospect.


Future blogs on this site will explore how a message can be made relevant, featuring examples from real life.