Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Become Pertinent to Move Beyond Buzz

Those who know me also know that one of my favorite words is PERTINENCE. My cowboy grandfather taught it to me and I've never forgotten his lesson. To me, pertinence is possibly the most critical element in marketing as it drives the focus away from my-product-my-company to the customer, audience, and consumer. To be pertinent means to be both IMPORTANT and RELEVANT.

Here's a great way of thinking about it. Picture your target audience's perceptive view of the world like that of a submarine's radar screen. Yep, you got it, that green circle with a radial arm going around like a clock identifying the objects within the scanning field. In regular intervals the radar pings the environment for new objects.

Now relating this to RELEVANT and IMPORTANT...relevance determines if your message to that target audience even shows up on the radar screen. It has nothing to do with the amount of noise you make, or the frequency of your message, or even the creative you use. If what you're talking about has nothing to do with the target's circle of concern, then your message simply doesn't get noticed.

IMPORTANCE has to do with how close to the center your message hits. For a submarine, that radar view indicates that the sub is at the very center of the radar screen. Objects close to that center are important to the submarine and they pay more attention to those objects than the ones on the periphery. The closer your message gets to the center of an audience's circle of concern it receives an equal measure more of attention.

In her book Beyond Buzz, author Lois Kelly offers up a poignant message on the importance of straight talk in our communications. In fact, the opening chapter is titled, "Enough with the marketing blah blah blah -- let's talk about something interesting." I couldn't agree more. (If you want to hear more from Lois about her book, tune in to my radio show on Wednesday, January 21 at 9 a.m. PST. You can listen live at http://www.wsradio.com/ and even call in with your own questions. The show, Marketing News Radio, is produced by the American Marketing Association.)

In a recent discussion on Beth Kanter's blog we chatted about ways to measure the effectiveness of our social media efforts (e.g. blogs, facebook, etc). In that discussion I suggest that rather than only looking at ROI (return on investment) metrics such as page views, trackbacks, and comments, maybe we should also add in a new metric: ROR -- return on relevance. I should have said ROP -- return on pertinence.
I think the greatest challenge facing non profit marketers in 2009 is not going to be how to find new revenue sources, how to get more from their efforts, or even how to participate in the digital marketplace. I think those will flow from a deeper and clearer insights into their audiences, understanding what is pertinent -- relevant and important. By getting to this rich and deep level of understanding, the choice of marketing tactics becomes much clearer if not obvious and the focus of raising needed resources becomes more of asking for partnership than donations.

-- David Kinard, PCM

1 comment:

Casey said...

Hi David,

I enjoy your blog. This was a great post about pertinence and its role in marketing. You might be interested in checking out Knotice's 'Relevance Week' blog series.
The first post can be found here: http://lunchpail.knotice.com/2009/02/09/the-reality-of-relevance-–-5-barriers-to-adoption/
and the second post can be found here:http://lunchpail.knotice.com/2009/02/11/the-return-on-relevance-ror/
The third post will be posted tomorrow afternoon.