Relevance is key for relationships and relationships motivate people towards movements and purchases. It’s all about relevance. You have to be relevant to your audience or client otherwise you’ll never be able to win them. Having goals and values are all well and good, but without personal relevance to the consumer your values are meaningless. You either have to have values or a mission which are already relevant or you must build a relationship to establish your relevance in order to obtain the confidence to present your values and your mission and your ideal without seeming “preachy”.
Even this term has a connotation based in the idea of relevance, as it refers to a preacher or priest. Priests and preachers are being viewed more and more as the church’s irrelevance. An out of touch figure who speaks down on the masses and tells them what to do and what not to do. No one wants to be spoken down to and very few people are interested in complete conformity. However, it’s what we were used to in our religion. This isn’t how it has to be though. Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus say “you must build buildings with linear rows of seats where people can sit silently and hear my divine word amplified and echoing down upon them”. Rather he says “where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also”. Jesus went out into the world and interacted with the people inter-personally. He spoke to them in city centers and in their houses and at dinner tables as well as in the temple.
So what does all this religion-y stuff have to do with relevance in marketing? Think of it this way: what outmoded cultural systems involve the few communicating ideals, values, missions and tasks downward to the many? If you answered broadcast media then you’ve been paying attention. If not, I’d suggest looking up some statistics. Mobile and social media are where people’s eyes are today, mine included, so we need to work to meet them there.
As pointed out by Gary Vaynerchuk, banner ads and billboards aren’t the currency of this new media ecosystem, it’s relationships. People aren’t on Facebook to comment on photos of new menu items at Taco Bell. They’re there to interact with their friends, and if brands they like are there then that’s a fine added bonus. As marketers it’s our job to create a form of friendship or other relevance with users. Not so they’re logging onto Facebook to look at our restaurant’s profile, but so that they stop there on the way to making plans for the night with another friend.
That process is going to look different for every brand, because every brand has a different audience. It’s also going to be a process that changes from year to year. There’s no secret sauce to this. It takes just as much (if not more) work as maintaining a few thousand real friendships. You can’t measure relevance in dollars, and there’s no concrete ROI of each comment on your status, but building a personal relationship with your audience or customers will be well worth it in the end.