But to look ahead, we have to examine what led us, and our companies to survive and in some instances thrive, is a very difficult market environment. From my perspective, that key ingredient was relevance. Companies that did well managed to make whatever service or product they developed relevant to their target market. They tapped into the underlying value that their target customer had and made sure these folks understood how the product/service addressed that value.This isn’t as easy as it seems. Most companies tend to gaze toward their own navel when trying to express their products/services value and relevance. They try to communicate what they have done and expect the market to understand why these achievements or innovations are relevant. That’s a huge leap to expect the market to make, especially in a market that is highly competitive and you are dealing with a target audience that is attention challenged.
Think about the communications programs you are working on right now. Take a hard look at the way you are talking about the products/services your company is delivering. Is your material full of acronyms or buzz words that highlight how important you think the product/service is? Does the content you’ve written in your releases and other material focus on the great things your company has products/developed instead of the problem it solves or opportunity it addresses? Finally, look at your material and count the number of times you tie the great things your company has done with a customer need or specific market trend that makes this product/service relevant.My personal view is that the benefit/trend to speed/feed ratio to should be at a minimum 2 to 1. If you can do this, think about how much easier it will be for reporters/customers/partners/prospects/investors to understand why your company, not just the product or service, is relevant. The easier you make it for them to understand, the more likely you are to motivate them to action.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog that talked about the finite attention span of target audiences. With this in mind, as we plan for 2012, companies that don’t adopt a culture of relevance in their communications programs will face a dwindling prospect for mind share and attention. The tough lesson learned in the down markets is that if information is not easy to consume and apply the benefit to someone’s personal or professional life, it is ignored. Ignored equals irrelevance and that is not a viable option in 2012.