In the direct mail marketing world, we have a common saying:

“Junk mail is just mail delivered to the wrong person.”

Now I know it sounds a little gimmicky, but there is actually truth in this saying, not just for direct mail but for all types of lead generation marketing. Junk mail ceases to be “junk” when the recipient actually needs or wants what that mail piece offers. At that point, it transitions into something useful, even welcome, especially if it solves a problem. The term “junk mail” refers, not to all promotional mailings, but to promotional mailings that were not relevant to the recipient.

This idea of relevancy is one that has been around for a long time in the direct marketing world, but is just catching on in other areas of marketing as well. More and more, marketers of all types are finding that relevancy can make or break the success of their marketing campaigns. It’s no secret that consumers generally don’t like advertising, especially when it is seen as disruptive. However, a big part of that dislike comes from the large amounts of marketing that is irrelevant to them. After all, who really wants to be bombarded with tons of advertising for things they don’t want or need?

Luckily, nowadays, as we have more solutions for collecting data on consumers, true relevancy in our marketing is actually attainable. Relevancy ensures that our marketing budgets will be better spent on people who actually want our products and services, but it also generally makes life more pleasant for consumers, who don’t have to constantly wade through advertisements meant for other people. This really is a win-win situation, and since the tools are at our fingertips, there really is no excuse for absolute irrelevancy in marketing, no matter what the medium.

So, how can you ensure that your marketing materials are relevant? The real key here is identifying your target market(s). This is arguably the most important thing you can do as a marketer, and it should always be your first step when embarking on a new campaign. Knowing your target audience, their demographic features, pain points, habits, motivations, and desires, is what ultimately enables you to introduce hyper-relevancy into your marketing materials. There are four main ways that you can use this information.

1. Message: Ultimately, relevancy entails knowing what message consumers will best respond to. What information will you include? What tone and/or voice will you use? Which offer and call-to-action combination will actually drive people to act?

2. Place/Medium: Getting your message to the right place and/or medium is equally as important as crafting the right message. What if you pour your marketing efforts into email marketing, only to find out that the majority of your target audience doesn’t have or use their email accounts? Make sure your message is delivered to a place where your target market will actually see it.

3. Time: Finally, you need to know when your target market will be in a position to see your marketing materials, and when they will be most receptive to it.

I know all of this sounds complicated, and let’s be honest: it is. Relevancy in marketing is a challenge, because people are complicated. However, the tools we need to improve our relevancy are right in front of us, and we should all be striving to make our marketing better all the time. Now, no marketing will be 100% relevant all the time; this is a trial-and-error process, and no marketer is exempt from that. However, increased relevancy in our marketing benefits everyone, so let’s embrace it!