Today one of the greatest challenges we face in business is staying relevant. Consumers have far more distractions, cautions, choices, opportunities and ways to study and communicate than ever before.
I was recently presenting at the GMDC, a big conference where all the big box store retailers come to find new products. One of the key speakers was the head of Microsoft’s Business Innovation Department. Learning how they “track” consumers to get relevant intelligence about them was fascinating, actually a bit scary. However, the one thing he said that I found most amazing was that today, “data that is more than two weeks old is not relevant, so don’t study it.” With this new two week parameter, most of us will not be good at being relevant.
That definition of relevance is difficult to implement, but with an open mind, I think we can do it! Of course, the question is how. I think if we focus on the below and then have the open mind needed to change appropriately, we will get there. Yes, WE MIGHT HAVE to CHANGE. Yes, WE CAN DO IT!
- Spend time where your customer spends time every day. To stay relevant, we need to make sure we are getting the right information about needs, wants, expectations etc. from our targeted audience. This means spending time with them face-to-face, spending time with them virtually, spending time with them however we can. As soon as we are disconnected from our customer in any way, our relevance starts to diminish.
- Connect how your customer wants to connect. There are tons of ways to communicate, the challenge when it comes to staying relevant is ensuring that we are communicating in a fashion that is relevant to our customers. If they are embracing a new social media platform and we are not, clearly there are issues ahead. We need to be nimble and flexible and connect how our customers want to connect, not how it suits us or is easy for our business’s current staff.
- Two way = more effective communication. If you want to be relevant, communication needs to be much more about engagement as opposed to a one-sided stream of information. We need to find a way to communicate that builds a meaningful flow of information, and that means a two-way flow. At BioZyme® we call this type of communication crosstalk. The term came to us from a 16-year-old German customer within the context of improving our social media strategies globally.
- Welcome critical thinking. We all know that resisting change is deadly. A culture that embraces and encourages innovative thinking to keep the business relevant is a must. We need to be aware of the signs that might suggest our culture is not as welcoming of critical thinking as we need it to be (resistance to change, lack of creative problem solving, negativity toward anything new, etc.).
- Embrace industry innovation. All too often we look for innovation within our own business or own industry. From my experience, we are far more likely to find innovative ideas that we can adapt and use in our own business from outside our industry. We need to become students of other industries and innovative communities (online and offline). With Google this is possible from your home late at night, so we have no excuse to not getting it done.
In simple terms, relevance provides meaning in our lives. Relevance is the full experience of a product, brand or cause that we can relate to; it’s an experience that not only changes minds, but, more importantly, changes behavior – and sustains that change.
Staying relevant has got to be one of the hardest tasks in business. Relevance focuses on results. Relevance is about the ultimate goal – triggering the desired behavior. People are awash in choices about where to spend their money and place their loyalty. If you aren’t relevant, they will go somewhere else. Please don’t let that happen.