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Relevance marketing is about finding a person who is in a need state for a given offer and delivering messages (push) or making your brand easily available (pull) at exactly the right moment.  The difference between relevance marketing and traditional approaches is that you would prefer to deliver more messages to the same person at a moment of relevance that to deliver broader reach to people who occasionally need your type of offer but not at that time. Relevance based media planning trumps reach and frequency planning, so buy as much of it as you can.

So, if you were creating a media strategy based on relevance rather than reach, how would you redirect your priorities? Here is what you would spend more on than you probably are today.

  1. Focus messaging on what makes your brand relevant to people.  Are they planning a healthy dinner for tonight? Looking to power up before work? Looking to be sexually attractive tonight? Create messages that help people achieve their goals, not a hard sell for your product.
  2. Owned media.  You would make visiting your brand’s website a habit.  Give them a repeated reason to come there based on relevance to their lives. is an example.
  3. Presence in topic-based forums and communities.  Some of these third party places on the web take advertising, but certainly, your brand can participate in these discussions as long as you don’t trick anyone (like having an employee not disclose who they work for.)
  4. Search marketing.  People search for things when they are relevant to them.  You probably could be more creative at thinking about what terms people are using to search for, in order to fulfill a need or desire that your offer addresses.
  5. Display advertising based on relevance.  When someone shares an article, or even just reads articles on a given topic, they are declaring that this topic is relevant to them.  Certain companies like ShareThis (disclosure, they are a consulting client of mine) offer the ability to reach an audience to whom your offer is relevant, at scale.  There are behavioral targeting methods based on shopping or abandoned carts that also can trigger relevance-based display advertising
  6. Shopper marketing.  Catalina produces coupons and brand messages at checkout based on your shopping patterns.  They can model the relevance of certain types of products to a shopper’s life and deliver coupons at the right time.  Also, you can create thematic shopper marketing ideas that make your product more relevant and stand out to a shopper’s given their goals for that trip.
  7. Sharing.  Friends share what they think is relevant to other friends.  Make your brand messages highly sharable to encourage this social media mechanism.
  8. Location aware offers.  As mobile becomes a reality, it offers a new way of delivering a highly relevant message.  Especially for retail establishments, relevance is in large part based on geographic proximity.

Now, what do all of these media options that you would dial up have in common?  They are all about ACTION.  People are seeking, shopping, planning their shopping trip, doing research for their purchase, and are out and about doing things.  Relevance marketing is tied to identifying when consumer action is occurring for which you are relevant and directing it towards your brand.

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3 Responses to “How to build relevance into your media plans”

  1. gian fulgoni

    In CPG, I think they have referred to this kind of marketing for decades as “consumer promotion”, “couponing” or “temporary price reduction” 🙂

  2. Right on Joel but it’s not an either or situation.
    You make a strong case for such relevance marketing and surely the Internet has turned Gian Fulgoni’s limited “consumer promotion” reference into a modern day powerhouse advertising media alternative.

    I do take issue with your positioning however, “So, if you were creating a media strategy based on relevance rather than reach, how would you redirect your priorities?”

    Reach with a relevance component is a good media planning strategy today and will win the day. “Relevance rather than reach” on the other hand, is a recipe for media irrelevance.

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