Relevance: Making Stuff That Matters

By Tim Manners

Published by Portfolio Hardcover

An epidemic of irrelevance has brought once-powerful brands to their knees. The virus is an inordinate fixation on demographics-driven strategies, fashion-forward images and media-focused communications. The autopsy points to a lack of organic growth.

The cure is a re-affirmation of the essence of marketing, which is simply to help people solve problems and live happier lives. However, this requires overturning precepts that have shaped marketing's "best practices" for the last 50 years or more.

  • Demographics are Dead. You can't get from good to great by marketing solely on the basis of consumer age, gender or ethnicity. Relevant brands take on and solve problems that transcend traditional demographic boundaries.
  • Fashion is Passê. It's no longer sustainable to create products or services that are vulnerable to the vagaries of consumer aspirations, fashions or fads. Brands that depend too heavily on buzz for growth are not built to last.
  • Advertising Smells Funny. Advertising might not be dead yet, but it is sickly, and new media can be just as frail as old media. Whether online, offline or grapevine, advertised messages are irrelevant most of the time for most brands.

Relevant brands understand certain principles:

  • Insight. Relevant brands care about what we actually do, not just what we think.
  • Innovation. Relevant brands know the difference between what's purely remarkable and what actually works.
  • Investment. Relevant brands understand the imperative of sparing no expense when it comes to satisfying our needs.
  • Design. Relevant brands live and breathe simplicity.
  • Experience. Relevant brands realize that it's more important to touch us in real life than on television.
  • Value. Relevant brands are more than worth every penny.

Relevance is laced with case-study examples of more than 80 brands as well as insights provided via exclusive interviews with 50 top marketing executives from America's leading companies. Each example is capped with key take-away points, providing a roadmap to relevance and a pathway to sustainable growth for years to come.