School trips and consultancy

Our youngest son is about to go on his first trip away with school.  A four day adventure in the woods to start marking the […]

Our youngest son is about to go on his first trip away with school.  A four day adventure in the woods to start marking the end of primary school.  He found out the cost of it, and asked me if I could do some ‘consultancy’ to pay for it.  I knew he was vaguely aware I went to an office most days, but I was genuinely taken aback that he had even the faintest idea of what I do for a living, and fair enough really.  I’ve always struggled to persuade him that what I do in ‘the office’ has any relevance to his life.  Until now, when he’s made the connection between school trip and ‘consultancy’.

This question of relevance is really interesting, and one it’s dangerous to forget when we’re ‘consulting’. I think it’s what people mean when they say they’re doing ‘strategic’ (at least he didn’t say I could do some ‘strategic consultancy’) communications. Strategic in as much as it’s following a plan, but relevant is often the better word.

I read a great quote by Alain de Botton the other day: ‘To the boring person, the question that never occurs is: how might this piece of information ever fit into anyone else’s life?’ We’ve all been on the receiving end, cornered in the pub, sat next to someone at a dinner party, pinned back by a laminated badge bore at some ‘networking event’, when the person we’re stuck with has switched off their relevance radar. Do they really think that fascinating story about themself is relevant to me?

We need to apply the same filter when we’re communicating at work. ‘Is it relevant?’ is a great question to ask if you want to communicate better. What’s relevant about this brand to this audience?  What story can we find in it to make it relevant to this blogger or that journalist? What could it do to be relevant to this group of consumers? And critically, how is this story relevant to the brand itself?

It’s a question we ask ourselves a lot, and if you ask the relevance question, you can get to some great ideas, like Wickes Tradebuilder. If we want to be relevant to an audience of trade builders, then we should be addressing something that matters to them – the more it matters to them and the more we do to address the issue, the more relevant our communications can be.

Relevance is what moves audiences from transaction to relationship with brands. And the more relevant you are, the more school trips you get to go on.