Meaningful connection has long been a core driving force behind marketing. However, where that connection often used to end at the moment of purchase, relevant communication is becoming the law of the land—a meaningful exchange that provides value to the buyer as much as profit to the seller—before and after the purchase.
Digital marketing tactics are born and retired at the speed of the internet, but print remains enduring—there is something about a physical experience that stays with us. Leveraging print successfully to create that relevant connection requires skill, data, and forethought.
ROI and Smart Marketing Spend
While marketing methods like print have a base price to implement, their true value comes from their measurable ROI. Determining how actions affect that marketing ROI is, according to a 2018 Hubspot survey, a problem that nearly half of all businesses struggle with. In the same vein, a 2018 report by Ascend2 found that 68% of companies agree that improving ROI measurability is the most important point of a data management strategy. Thankfully, there’s a proactive solution to wading through that uncertainty. Relevance marketing leverages customer data—age, ethnicity, income, location, purchasing behavior, and more—to make a deep and genuine connection with individual customers.
It’s important to note that successful relevance marketing isn’t a matter of surface-level “personalization,” like printing a recipient’s first name in a marketing piece. Rather, it’s using the understanding of who they are and how they have behaved previously to appeal directly to those needs. Business author Peter Drucker puts this effort succinctly:
Turning Concepts into Conversions
So what does relevance marketing look like in print marketing communications? It can take on many forms but at it’s core it’s content variability that aligns to as many relevant attributes of the customer or prospect as possible. Images that reflect their socio-economic background so they see themselves in your brand, building a level of trust and intimacy. Or a personal story from another customer of the same gender and/or ethnicity that aligns to their interests.
Thinking through and deliberately designing the versions of advertisements and other print marketing content that you’ll need will take slightly more time than creating a single campaign, but it’s worth it. When a potential customer sees themselves, or their values, or their specific needs—or all the aforementioned—reflected in the ads they’re presented with, you begin to build a level of belief in your brand, brick by brick, that can stand strong for a very long time. They feel connected to your brand or business, rather than being sold to by it—the best form of demand generation marketing you can execute. In fact, less than 1 in five—18%—of marketers in the 2018 Hubspot survey reported that “outbound” style marketing—a more salesperson-oriented approach—provided the highest quality of leads.
Finding Insights in Your Data
What do you currently know about your customers? What more could you know about them? These two questions form the core of relevance marketing; you can’t appeal to someone at the individual level until you understand them.
While this information will help your sales conversion rates in the short term, it carries benefits that will inevitably support other areas of your business as well. For example, discovering that the majority of your targeted customers don’t use “superstar” feature A but often use “underdog” feature B, means that the next generation of your product should favor the latter over the former.
Putting Relevance to Work
If you’re planning to implement a relevance marketing strategy in your print media, you’ll need to tighten up the way you view, collect, and process data; this is true even if you feel that your existing approach is working. There’s always room for improvement and additional insights! Just ensure that before you try to collect more data, you have a plan for why you are collecting that data.
As a final note, omitting unnecessary information is just as important as including relevant data. Content referring to concepts, belongings, or situations your target market can’t empathize with is a quick route to rebuilding that “wall” of hesitancy when it comes to conversion. Your customers are inundated with advertisements in nearly every aspect of their daily lives, so to make an impression you’ll need to prove you’re listening to their dislikes as closely as their likes.
Relevance marketing is an important part of brand differentiation in a crowded world—tapping into what your customers want will increase brand trust, authority, perception, and prestige in an authentic way at every level.