In any given day we receive thousands of messages. Our inboxes explode with email. Our social media accounts are never-ending streams of new information and updates from friends all over the world.
Staying relevant in the midst of all of it is an ongoing challenge. Breaking through the noise and standing out whether personally or professionally is a constant challenge.
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” General Eric Shinseki
Andrea Coville is the CEO of global public relations agency Brodeur Partners. Paul B. Brown is a best-selling author and contributor to The New York Times. Together they have written an excellent book called Relevance: The Power to Change Minds and Behavior and Stay Ahead of the Competition.
I recently had the opportunity to talk with them about the concept of relevance.
What do you mean by relevance and why is it so important?
Let us start with why it is so important. Worldwide, organizations spend hundreds of billions of dollars annually to get people to buy a product, embrace a brand, follow a candidate, or join a cause. And yet we can all agree that these marketing campaigns, ads, public relations initiatives, communication programs, and social media and change efforts are—to be kind—often less effective than they could be.
Relevance is a guiding principle to ensure that all your marketing and communications efforts make a sustained impact.
Okay, so what do we mean by relevance? We mean your offering is practical and especially is socially applicable.
We have found that most people misread the definition, putting almost all their emphasis on the practical. That’s understandable. It is certainly true that what you are offering must solve a customer need and do it well, but you need to do more. And that is where the emotional part of relevance comes in. If your product/service/idea resonates with a customer, if it means something to him in addition to being utilitarian, then the relationship will be deeper, longer lasting, and more profitable.
Let’s flip to the counter. Irrelevance. When you think about becoming irrelevant, it paints a whole different picture. Would you share an example of a company becoming irrelevant? What can be done about it?
Unfortunately, it is easy to come up with examples of companies that became irrelevant. Think of a technology company that had THE hot product five years ago and now is a distant also-ran. Or think of entire industries—the makers of payphones and print encyclopedias spring to mind—that are no longer relevant.