Relevance is the New Proximity

woman_holding_business_cardA guy walked into my office yesterday with a business card…

Is that the start of a joke?

No, it’s the start of a true story about how the rules of marketing have changed.

A guy walked into my office yesterday with a business card, to tell me that his services are available if I should need help in any of a half-dozen areas.

I could see why this approach would have worked 20 years ago – without the internet, you had to rely on local relationships and networks to access resources that could help you.  In short, proximity was a driving factor in how people made buying decisions.  So, from a marketing perspective, participating in local networks – the chamber, the country club, school… even visiting offices – was a solid way to find buyers.

But when this guy walked into my office yesterday, question after question fired off in my head…

  • What experience does he have?
  • What’s his style?
  • What can he teach me to make me better?
  • How does he compare to alternatives?

His ability to visit my office in person was far down my list.  Instead, the questions I was asking were all about how relevant his service would be for me.

And it’s noteworthy that although these questions went off in my head, I didn’t want to stop what I was doing and take time to ask him right then.  I wanted a web address to go to if I found a need for his services, and I wanted him to ask me for my email address so he could send me his newsletter and I could start to learn who he is and whether he has anything relevant to say to me.

This situation did not end well.  No web site on his card.  No request for an email address.  I may call him when he can help me, but I think I’m more likely to forget his visit in a few months and start with a search on the web.

Proximity is not dead.  The world, in reality, is not flat – in fact, it’s really big and complicated and local, so there are lots of small communities where people can succeed by serving those around them.  But proximity is not worth what it used to be.

Relevance is the new proximity.  Be relevant first, and if you can also be nearby, you have a leg up on all those others who are relevant and farther away.

[box type=”download”] For more about using relevance in marketing today, check out this post on using relevant keywords in your SEO from Hubspot, and this article on what B2B buyers really want from Act-On.[/box]

Post By Dave Haviland (6 Posts)

Dave specializes in strategic consulting to leadership teams at Stage 2 businesses to help them clarify their business goals, improve how they market products and services, boost internal productivity and successfully leverage new business and employee opportunities. He serves on the board of directors or advisors at several companies. He also has been a featured blogger for Crain’s Detroit Business on matters related to business growth, speaks regularly to professional associations, is actively involved with the Saginaw Valley / Stevens Center for Family Business and Walsh College’s Leadership Institute, and is regularly quoted in publications including Inc. Magazine and the American Management Association’s newsletters. Dave's interests outside of strategic consulting include travel, playing hockey and many other sports, raising 3 young kids, and lying around on a warm beach whenever he can.

Website: → Phimation - Stage 2 Business Management Consulting


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *