The question isn’t whether or not to advertise during an economic downturn. Instead, we need to ask ourselves whether our advertising will be relevant. Updated evidence presented by Peter Field and added to his study, Advertising in a downturn, found that going dark during an economic crisis poses a risk that can take brands up to five years to recover from. Field warns, “One of the big issues we all face today is the demise of brand building… as more marketers become engineers of short-term results.” Now more than ever, brand building must be at the top of the agenda. Havas Group’s Meaningful Brands report indicates that people wouldn’t care if 77 per cent of brands went away. Accenture found that 64 per cent of customers say they would switch from one brand to another due to a lack of relevance. In a time when people are re-evaluating what, why and who they buy, relevance is vital to recovery.
What is marketing relevance?
Relevance is a short cut to attracting attention and interest – being remembered and chosen. In order to recover, brands must evolve with the needs and motivations of their customers in a way that differentiates them from their competitors.
Why does marketing relevance matter?
In an effort to make up for lost revenue quickly, panic marketing could again throw us into a cycle of short-term, promotional digital marketing that doesn’t connect with people. It would ultimately prove more costly.
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How can I use marketing relevance to my advantage?
The best way to increase relevance is to engage customers in your brand. This doesn’t have to be big, loud, shiny or expensive. Engagement is active brand building – treating consumers as users of your brand first and buyers of your products second. For both retention and acquisition, prioritize brand engagement to increase emotional involvement. Include direct channels to improve intimacy and let customers know they’re valued.
Inspiring examples of marketing relevance in action
We’ve been delighted by these brands engaging in fresh ways to increase relevance and create active brand users:
- The Knix 2020 swimwear campaign took a creative turn when beachside photoshoot plans were nixed. Collaborating with customers and influencers, the brand used #StayHome models to launch the new range.
- Oatly Department of Distraction Services turns lockdown boredom into engagingly fun activities using the Swedish oat milk brand’s products and packaging.
- The National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City grabbed the bull by the horns when it gave head of security, Tim, a new role as social media influencer. The growing fan base is getting an authentic and intimate look inside the museum.
How to work relevance into the marketing mix
Effective marketing means being able to build brand and convert at the same time. With direct mail, marketers don’t have to choose. According to the IPA’s 2017 Media in Focus report, compared to other direct and mass channels, direct mail is equally good at creating brand-building and activation impact.
Integrating direct mail with social media content and digital platforms will enhance customer engagement among brand users and customers, which in turn can influence new users. Through targeting and personalization, direct mail improves relevance while physical creativity increases memorability.
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