In Marketing Effectiveness Trumps Relevance


There is a lot of buzz about being relevant. Given the chance, I take being effective over relevant any day.

The most basic tenet of any marketer is to connect the message to its intended audience.

It’s that easy. It’s not that simple.

Sacrificing Effectiveness for Relevance Maurilio Amorim

My team at The A Group is currently working on a campaign targeting legacy donors: they have large-gift potential, are motivated by leaving a legacy behind, and are between 65 and 85 years old. A social media campaign is not going to reach them. Most likely, an email campaign will not do much better either. Traditionally, the “Builder” generation responds well to direct mail campaign with multiple pieces and telemarketing ( I can’t believe I just wrote down “telemarketing” but I did).

I know that creating a new app would be a lot cooler than trying to print and stuff direct mail. Creating a dynamic microsite with viral videos and downloads is a lot sexier and fun than coordinating a telemarketing follow up, but they would simply not communicate with that target audience.

Too many marketing teams in agencies, churches, ministries and businesses make costly strategic mistakes because they lose track of the bottom line. For the sake of  cultural relevance (“culture” as defined by the majority of the age group on the team, that is), they become ineffective to an entire audience.

Marketers are not hired to be relevant. We are hired to be effective and to deliver quantifiable results in the form of sales, visitors, and traffic.

If we can look cool while delivering the goods, than that’s a bonus. I’ve seen agencies win marketing awards for failed campaigns.  While creative directors and designers celebrate their trophies, the client laments a lot of wasted money.

Are you communicating well with all the audiences you serve?


  • Mark Corbin

    Spot on. Too many time teams can't look beyond their own preferences and they miss the boat completely.

  • Not sure if I agree with this post. Just kidding. I totally love it. It's like the title of John Maxwell's new book, "Everyone Communicates, Few Connect." They don't don't connect because they don't take into enough account of who they are trying to connect with and how those people might best be reached (due to their likes, styles and interests versus our own).

    I think the Curse of Knowledge comes into play here too. We, as marketers or communicators, can sometimes be blinded by what we know, thinking that others know it or will adopt it too. That's often a recipe for failure.

    In the church especially, I see so many say they want to reach the lost and connect with the community but the messaging and mechanisms they use to reach them are disconnected from what unchurched identify with (in a lot of cases).

    Moral of the story… you're unlikely to catch a fish without using bait that fish like to eat.

    • Daniel, I can't tell how many times I have talked churches out of some cutting edge graphics because I knew they couldn't deliver on their promises.

  • I just went through this as a church planter. Reaching this group is usually a personal 1 to 1 deal. The thing about Legacy Donors is that we typically have direct connections to only a few. To target this audience, I think you have to develop advocates (aka replacing yourself) who are willing to bring more of these type of donors to the table. Then you have a system…

    • On a church plant strategy, a trusted source is imperative to reach out to this generation. They often will not leave their church to attend a start up but they might love what you're doing and would be willing to help fund it.

  • Being in marketing and advertising for almost 20 years, its refreshing to read when people "get it". Know your clientele and deliver and serve them.

    Excellent post and point.

  • Nicely said. We must be able to measure results and help quantify what works and what doesn't. Thanks for commenting.

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