Sales and Marketing Sections

In This Age, a Relevant Message Is Everything

Rock Relevance

By John Garvey

John Garvey, second from right, with his team at Garvey Communications Associates

John Garvey, second from right, with his team at Garvey Communications Associates: from left, James Garvey, digital marketing analyst; Darcy Fortune, digital public relations analyst; and Mary Shea, vice president, Digital Strategy.

There are two things to remember when you are trying to get a message out to your customers.

Thing one: make sure your message is relevant.

Thing two: focus on thing one.

Seriously, in this new multi-media, digital world, a relevant message is everything. You have to figure out what is valuable to your core customers. The good news is that they will tell you if you ask. In this article, we will propose the keys to building and carrying a relevant message directly to your customers.

Start thinking about relevance this way: you own a business or are managing the marketing for a business; otherwise, this article wouldn’t be relevant to you. Your business is clearly successful because someone is buying something from you. You need to figure out why. Answering that ‘why’ is critical because, in order to be relevant, you need to know more about your customers’ needs and their challenges than you probably do right now.

Traditional business messages are familiar to us all because we see them every day. They go something like this: “ACME company is great. We have great products. You need us.” A customer-centric message digs a lot deeper and is based on a simple pain-solution formula: “we know these are your needs, and here is how we can help.” Most businesses focus on the former because we all like talking about ourselves, but, from a digital-marketing perspective, that is fatal.

In this new multi-media, digital world, a relevant message is everything. You have to figure out what is valuable to your core customers.”

Here is why a relevant message is so important in digital marketing. As you know, computers run the Internet, and computers are run by software. So, for digital marketing, software can determine if your ad runs efficiently or not. The amount of media spend does not hold the same weight as it does in traditional media because the software (an algorithm) was built to serve information that people are looking for. That pretty much sums up how Google AdWords works. The more relevant your message is, the more success you will have in search, display, and video advertising through Google AdWords.

Social-media marketing is a new and incredibly powerful advertising channel for businesses, and relevance is still key. Software still plays a slightly different role in social-media marketing than it does for Google AdWords.

While the AdWords platform offers a variety of targeting options that will make your ad spend more efficient, the targeting ability of social-media marketing platforms like Facebook and Instagram is quite simply profound.

Here’s why: Facebook buys user data from data brokers like Oracle. If you’re a consumer, you might find that creepy. But if you are a marketer, you’re jumping up and down because you now have access to big data. Using this data, you can not only target geographically and by gender, but also behaviorally.

Like the Google AdWords network, social-media marketing platforms know what you have been up to on the Internet. So if you have been looking at cars, clothes, or mortgages, the platforms have that information. Behavioral targeting through social-media marketing platforms uses that data to serve you ads that are relevant — because you have been searching or reading related information. Therefore, behaviorally speaking, you could be considered in-market for those products.

Here’s a news flash, though. The digital ad dissemination systems don’t dictate everything, but instead are programmed to respond to your customers. If your customers like your ad and engage with it (e.g. click on it, share it, or comment on it), your ad will perform better. Your customers ultimately determine a large part of the success or failure of your ad. If they find it relevant, it will perform better. Remember thing two?

One more thing that the platforms do not control: creativity. Your digital-marketing ads still need to be inventive, particularly for the Google AdWords display and video networks and for Facebook/Instagram advertising.

People (customers) and platforms like things that move — video and animation, for instance. Sure, people like to read interesting information, but they like to watch it more. Short-form video performs amazingly well on digital-marketing platforms and serves as the perfect top-of-sales funnel introduction to the rest of your relevant pitch, just a click away on your website. Longer-form video (in the digital world, this is video that approaches two minutes in length) should be reserved for your website. Unless you are creating ‘how-to’ content, the best practice is to keep your videos short.

We introduced a new term in the last paragraph. Did you notice? Website. Oh, but we are not talking about your father’s website anymore.

Your digital-marketing site should be integrated into your business. Users (think customers) want to take action. They want to research and transact. So, does your website have videos about your products and services that allow customers to learn more and that encourage them to buy? Can they check prices or inventory, make an appointment, or, for god’s sake, buy on your website? Help your customers help you. Give them the ability to move into your sales funnel while you sleep.

Best of luck in 2018.

John Garvey is president of Springfield-based Garvey Communication Associates Inc.; (413) 736-2245.