Recently, I’ve felt compelled to take on some B2B marketing terms that make me a bit nuts as their meanings become blurred through the casual way we’re using them. I’ve taken on engagement and conversation, and now I’ve got a twist going about relevance.
Design content that’s relevant to your audience!
If you’re content isn’t relevant, you’re marketing efforts will fall short.
I agree with all of these statements, which is easy to do because they really don’t say anything. What does “relevance” really mean in a marketing context? If marketers understood this, there would be a whole lot of content in the trash bin. Just saying…
In order to answer the relevance question, marketers need to back up to the “who” question. Because, unless you know who you’re trying to engage and what they care about, the point of relevance is, well, irrelevant.
Questions to answer in evaluation of the relevance of your marketing content:
- Who is the content is designed for?
- Why will they care? (Hint: make sure your content passes the “so what?” test)
- What value will they recognize? (Hint: not what you want them to value, but what they actually care about)
- How important is the information to them? (Hint: is the topic related to helping them solve a problem keeping them from achieving a critical business objective?)
- What will they learn? (Hint: share your expertise)
- What will the audience takeaway as a next step? (Hint: identify the most memorable thing about the content asset)
I hear from a lot of marketers that they don’t have time or budget to do the research and legwork that will help them answer the questions above in relation to the content they are developing. There’s still a lot of “we need one of those” types of discussions going on. (Think infographic, Facebook pages, videos, etc.) But when asked “Why” they need it, their answers speak more to shiny object syndrome than valid business reasoning.
If you stop and think about it – we’re all tuned to relevance. Think about the way you delete stuff out of your inbox without giving it more than a cursory glance. Why do you decide to register for the webinars you attend? Relevance is an instinctive reaction. Something either catches your attention or it doesn’t.
And what makes the difference can be remarkably subtle: For example, if I’m thinking about how to get more insight from my web analytics and I receive an email from a company I’m not familiar with that’s focused on “business intelligence” or “big data,” I might delete it without taking the time to stop, think, and relate it to “insights from analytics.” But, if I remember the company as being an expert in analytics, I will probably take the time to make the connection.
The words we use, as well as the topics we choose, and the perception of our companies by our audience all play a role in the recognition of relevance by those we intend to engage.
Some of the stuff that ruins relevance for audiences includes:
- Overuse of company or product names and references – who cares?
- Focus on the company, not the audience – why should they spend their attention?
- High-level, surface information that doesn’t get to the depth of interest that makes it valuable – where’s the learning?
- Content that leaves the audience hanging – where are the takeaways?
- Content that’s a replay of 27 other articles your audience has likely been exposed to – (Hint: if you have nothing new to add that spins the topic in a new direction, let it go)
- Talking to the audience like you know them, but obviously don’t – clueless!
Relevance is in the eye of the beholder. (Sound familiar?) What you think or want doesn’t matter.
The secret to relevance in B2B marketing is to learn what your intended audience is interested in and applying what your solutions enable in relation to that interest—using words that resonate.
What are you doing to ensure that your marketing content is making the right connections with the right audience wherever they find it? (website, blog, nurturing programs, email copy, white papers, etc.)