You don’t mean anything to me!
We’ve heard it a hundred times in movies. He stands on the right of the screen, broken, his heart in pieces. His hair is all over the place. His face is tense, his eyes scarily white. He looks like a man on the verge of doing something that he can never undo. His hands are shaking, and, the knowledgeable watcher you are has already guessed the presence of a gun, hidden under his jacket.
She is on the left of the screen, facing him, with a composed yet furious expression. Her face shows tiredness, but she isn’t afraid of him. Her hair has been cut in a stylish fashion. She is wearing the latest trend. Her eyes are made to look dramatic with dark makeup.
‘Come back to me,’ he says.
‘No!’ she replies.
He begs. He sobs. He pleads, telling her she means the world to him.
‘You don’t mean anything to me,’ she spits out as she pushes him away.
At this point, you already know he’s going to lose his mind and shoot her. You know she’s just signed her death warrant. It’s a cliché used in so many drama movies; you are somehow surprised that the Hollywood Industry continues to promote dramatic breakups in a world where everyone consumes divorce like you order ice cream at your local parlor. Doesn’t the man in the story know his affection has no bearing on the woman’s life? Doesn’t he see they are not relevant to each other?
But don’t be too quick to blame the character for his lack of discernment. Even in real life, away from the Hollywood screen, it can be difficult to measure your relevance. Indeed, many businesses fail to notice when they are not connected with their audience, whether they misinterpret their customers’ expectations or fail to fulfill their employees’ needs. Staying relevant to your community is an art that is difficult to master in a continually changing professional environment. If you don’t want to end up like the man in the film, shooting to kill instead of aiming to win, you need to evaluate how relevant your company is to the market, your employees, and your customers.
Madonna – Music from GLASSWORKS VFX on Vimeo.
Your number one focus: SEO
At a business level, the typical area where you’re likely to hear about being relevant is search engine optimization. Indeed, with over 1 billion websites in the world, you can imagine that the competition to appear on top of the search result pages is brutal. The digital market is overcrowded, and that’s precisely why it’s more important than ever to choose keywords that are entirely relevant to your audience and your specific niche. Indeed, bearing in mind that search engines such as Google and Bing combine the best possible answer to match the expectations of each user by matching previous searches, location, and online interests to select the most suitable websites, you can’t keep your site pertinent without optimizing the whole online presence to your target. If you sell bamboo toothbrushes, your target is likely to share a common interest in environmental issues, green living, and eco-friendly behaviors. Consequently, your site should also refer to these topics as part of the content.
Admittedly, your journey to SEO relevance begins with developing strands of keywords to target your audience’s interests, thinking and needs. The key rule of making your keywords go the extra mile is to focus on long tails, and niche phrases, as these will be more likely to stand out from the crowd. The more relevant you make your keyword choice, aka the more targeted, the less likely you are to appear on page 12 of a generic search term. Granted, your content will appear in fewer searches, but it will have better chances to rank in the top results.
But SEO is pointless without a pertinent web design
SEO strategies tend to focus on your content and the technical factors that help search engines to promote your web presence, such as rapid load time or little to none 404 error messages. However, what Google, Bing and other search engines can’t see is whether the layout and design you’ve chosen match your audience’s expectation. Indeed, each market has an unwritten template rule that keeps websites selling similar products looking and feeling the same for users. Ultimately, users have design expectations such as the requirement of filter functions on retail sites, or online booking access for restaurants.
Consequently, you want to partner with an agency that understands which web design services are relevant to your target audience. When users are confused by the layout, they are less likely to navigate the site. In other words, your content is useless if you can’t use a user-friendly design strategy that is relevant to your niche market.
Is your pricing strategy suited to your market?
Making your product relevant to the market goes, of course, beyond your web strategy. How much you choose to charge per item can define your entire brand and business success. Indeed, consider the Apple brand. Whether you decide to buy the latest iPhone or the new iMac, you know that the product you’ll acquire will be an expensive one. However, the cost doesn’t stop buyers from sticking with the brand. In fact, the truth is that people don’t want cheap Apple products, because they are buying more than one item. Customers pay to be part of Apple’s ecosystem. Indeed, Apple’s products can link to each other and maintain your flow of activities effortlessly from the iPad to the TV, to the iPhone. It’s because Apple enjoys a unique position in the market via their ecosystem that they can design a pricing strategy that is relevant to the benefits their customers gain via the purchase of their units. Their prices also is linked to the branding image, the customers’ expectation – you wouldn’t buy a cheap Apple product – and their overall costs of production, management, and business culture.
What happens when the customer service doesn’t make sense?
It would be a mistake to assume that businesses need to be relevant until the product hits the market. Buyers don’t only choose the product. They also buy into the brand image and its vision. With these expectations in mind, customers want the brand to remain relevant to their interests and lifestyle through time, not only in terms of new product launches but also follow-up activities and customer services. Ultimately, poor customer service doesn’t just affect your business reputation; it also makes you less relevant to existing buyers who were interested in a long-term relationship. A direct consequence of this lack of connection to your existing audience is the large volume of serial switchers. 67% of customers are willing to go with your competitor when they feel the business doesn’t understand or acknowledge their expectations.
Your brand sounds fake whatever you do
Are you even for real?
When customers begin to doubt your brand and its value, you need to act rapidly before falling into the trap of brand dishonesty. Indeed, your business can’t fake it until it makes it. You have to connect with the market and present pertinent messaging. This starts by stopping the claims of being the best of the best. No, your customers want to hear the truth. You may not be the best brand around, but staying true to yourself is what will make you relevant to your customers. They want an authentic experience, and consequently, they are after a brand that is just as imperfect as they are. Embrace your flaws instead of trying to hide them; nobody likes fake gold.
Differentiate without losing
There’s an interesting misconception when it comes to brand authenticity: Many believe that you can’t stay relevant while being true to yourself. In reality, as the market is constantly evolving, any brand – as authentic it is – needs to adapt and adjust its strategy to appeal to an audience that is surrounded by changing trends and new companies. There are various options. McDonald’s, for instance, chose to gain parity by diversifying its offering, keeping old customers happy and appealing to health-conscious ones too. But, personal brands, such as Madonna, prefer to reinvent themselves continually. As a result, the pop star has maintained her relevance since the 1980s and gathered many fans in a variety of communities.
Employees expect meaning from the company too
Your team wants meaningful jobs that make them feel relevant to the business. Pointless tasks – referred to as “bullshit” jobs by anthropologist David Graeber – only affects your staff morale. More importantly, these unnecessary jobs are toxic, to your team, but also your business. Indeed, as employees can’t create any economic value, they contribute to the loss of the company, financially, productively, and morally. Unhappy employees don’t stay long, and with them, you lose the chance of nurturing their talent and making your inner processes more relevant to the expectations of professionals. Additionally, the culture of creating meaningless roles is, unfortunately, widely spread, leading to difficult bureaucratic obstacles, lack of reactivity, and an overall monetary pitfall.
In other words, staying relevant needs to be a priority in the business world. If you don’t want to become the actor of your own death, you need to question every decision from content production to recruitment. Businesses need to be meaningful to their customers, their market, and their employees to survive.