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Getting Relevance Right
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25 March 2013
Nothing is as important in marketing as relevance. If your products, services, communications and experiences are not relevant to the people you are trying to reach, you may as well pack up and go home.
Yellowwood recently published a white
paper on the topic entitled 'How to Know More About your
Market than Anyone Else - The Guide to Relevance', which
explores what it takes for an organisation to be relevant in
Achieving relevance is actually quite simple, as it's similar to
how we develop and maintain relationships with each other.
Essentially, to be relevant requires us to Listen,
Learn and Connect.
Get out there! All too often, marketers become engrossed in
'business-as-usual' and forget how important it is to see and
experience how consumers live and interact with their offering.
Sometimes it only takes observing a few people to give you a great
idea or insight, which often cannot be achieved with thousands of
quantitative survey responses. Consider KFC's Sithi Salute
Kleva, Koo's Jealous Down and Omo's Dirt is
Good campaigns - all grounded on real customer insight, making
them exceptionally successful in the local market. These brand
managers have truly embraced the 'eco-systems' in which these
brands operate - and by using their understanding and applying this
knowledge, relevance has come naturally.
- Live, think and act like a consumer:
Understand why your customers think the way they do. Listen to
their friends, families and key sources of information, and become
a part of their world.
- Listen to the right conversations: Technology
has given us a plethora of channels, but we need to filter the
noise and focus on what is relevant. Consider Google Alerts, RSS
feeds, and following influencer and consumer conversations on
- Listen beyond your category: To create a
relevant world for your consumers requires understanding their
lives, loves and passions beyond how they interact with your
- Remember, you are not the target market:
Starting with "my experience is…" is one of the largest barriers to
truly listening to and understanding your consumers.
Marketers understand the value of insight, but the statistical
jargon, numbers and raw data behind the insight scares many and
simply puts them off. Often research and customer insights teams
are stuck in a dark back office with little interaction with the
business and marketing teams. Brands cannot be relevant unless
marketers make it a priority to build learning organisations.
- Build collaboration into your organisation's
structure: Make it easy for employees to share ideas,
observations, experiences and lessons. Consider creating an
'internal insight bank', encourage weekly brainstorms, and flatten
hierarchies so that every employee feels comfortable sharing his or
her insight. For example, at Unilever, category teams sit together
to form "hot-houses of good ideas" with the workplace strategically
designed to encourage the sharing of knowledge.
- Find ways to work with big teams: As marketing
becomes more sophisticated, bigger teams of specialists are
required. It's important not to let the creation of new disciplines
lead to new silos in your organisation.
- Take risks: Make sure you experiment with your
marketing and learn from your mistakes. Digital tracking makes it
easy to see what works and what does not work, so that you can
adapt and tweak as you go.
New technology and the rise of social media have made the need
for hyper relevance critical, yet marketers are still using
'off-the-shelf' consumer classification systems and demographic
profiling. It poses the question: if marketing has changed so much,
surely the way business and marketers view their consumers should
It's essential that marketers connect with their consumers to
truly bring customer understanding alive in their
- Ditch the demographics: it's about having a
multi-faceted view of your customer to build a profile of needs,
lifestyles, attitudes, behaviours, mindsets, lifestage and
psychographics for each consumer cluster, so that you get as close
to individually relevant as possible.
- Bring organisation-wide understanding of the customer
alive: the primary reason why so few CEOs feel they get
value from customer studies is not the clustering or statistical
mechanics, but rather that too few organisations distribute and
implement the insight. Insight needs to influence how your
organisation behaves and markets. Name your market segments
accordingly, paint a picture of each type of consumer and ensure
that everyone from those at a leadership level to frontline staff
understand what each type of customer is all about. For example, to
bring their pan-African segmentation model alive, MTN has created
various consumer segment collateral items such as table talkers,
multimedia and visuals to distribute to the staff.
In conclusion,because so much importance has been placed on the
subject of relevance, we have tended to over-complicate,
over-engineer and over-think how to be relevant. Yellowwood's white
paper demonstrates that being relevant to your consumers means
reminding yourself that regardless of which segment of the market
you are targeting, you are still targetingpeople- not numbers, foot
traffic or income segments. It is only then that you'll know more
about your market than anyone else; and it's only then that you
will be getting relevance right.