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Timely and Relevant Is The Only Message That Matters

During the 2014 Grammy Awards, musician Pharrell Williams was seen wearing an unusual hat:

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Sure, he may have gotten some funny looks, but it didn’t seem like a big deal.

That is, until a certain fast food chain seized the opportunity to craft a clever tweet:

This was a spectacular feat on several levels. Many brands had been unsuccessfully trying to capitalize on the Grammys, but Arby’s nailed it.

It was also a great use of Arby’s social media persona. The restaurant even gained a funny response from Pharrell himself:

Those two Tweets gave Arby’s a colossal amount of publicity, gaining tens of thousands of retweets in a couple of days.

And they did it all with just eight words and a related hashtag.

Why did it work so well?

This smart marketing move had two important characteristics. It was timely, and it was relevant.

The most successful marketing is timely and relevant, and as I’m about to explain, that’s all that matters.

It doesn’t matter if you have millions of social media followers. It doesn’t matter if tons of influencers are promoting your product.

If your marketing isn’t timely and relevant, it won’t succeed.

It’s getting tougher and tougher to do marketing right. People are pickier about what they consume, and they’ll ignore anything that rubs them the wrong way.

If you throw salesy terms at your customers and pressure them to buy, you’re not going to get a lot of conversions.

But if you can build a connection with your customers, they just might turn into lifetime brand advocates.

You need to reach your customers where they are. That’s why timely, relevant messages are crucial for your brand.

What exactly does timely and relevant mean?

First, let’s define these terms.

“Timely” and “relevant” aren’t just buzzwords. They have real implications for your business, and as it turns out, they’re fairly complex.

Let’s tackle timeliness.

Many marketing campaigns are timely but not relevant. Often, these campaigns fail.

Make no mistake––timeliness is crucial. But you can still fail if you send a message at the perfect time.

Consider the Race Together campaign that Starbucks put out in 2015.

The campaign definitely came at the right time. The coffee giant launched it in response to the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, which had just happened the previous year.

The cases were still in the news, and Starbucks decided to create a dialogue about race. It should have been a match made in heaven, but it wasn’t.

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The campaign flopped quite badly.

The initiative itself was inherently flawed. It didn’t matter that it came at the right time because it just wasn’t the right marketing approach.

The race issue is definitely of intense importance, but the way it was approached was solidly off.

So timeliness is definitely important, but your marketing can’t be just timely. It also has to be relevant.

To be relevant, you have to think about your audience’s current needs, wants, and opinions.

You can’t base your ideas of relevancy off of old trends or data. You have to stay up to date and figure out what your customers want and like right now.

You have to think about what your customers want, where you can reach them, and how you can benefit them.

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If your audience isn’t interested in what you have to offer, they’re not going to listen to you.

If your audience isn’t hanging out in the same places you’re marketing, they’re not going to hear you.

If your audience doesn’t derive any value from your marketing, they’re not going to pay attention to you.

Last but not least, if you want to be relevant, your marketing has to fall in line with your audience’s values.

If you launch an initiative that your customers fundamentally disagree with, you won’t see much success. The same thing will happen if your marketing is insensitive or poorly done.

To sum it all up, relevancy means catering to your customers in as many ways as you can.

When you combine timeliness with relevancy, you get a one-two punch that almost never fails to convert.

The danger of the wrong message

To understand why timely and relevant matters so much, let’s consider some marketing efforts that failed miserably.

One of the biggest marketing fails in recent years has to be Pepsi’s controversial ad that was called “tone-deaf” by almost every media outlet in the world, from the New York Times to USA Today.

The 2017 ad involved TV personality Kendall Jenner taking part in protests and eventually offering a can of Pepsi to police.

Pepsi said the ad was meant to “project a global message of unity, peace, and understanding,” but it fell flat because the ad painted an unrealistic portrait of protests and the interactions between police and protesters.


Like Starbucks’s Race Together campaign, Pepsi put this out at the right time, in the wake of police protests that seemed to divide America, and the company’s intentions were positive.

However, the ad wasn’t relevant. It was far too staged and the situation far too impossible to relate to viewers.

To put it bluntly, the public thought the ad was a ton of crap and spoke out against it. (Pepsi removed the video from their channel, but the re-uploaded version received over 150,000 dislikes!)

The flak that Pepsi received for the ad was more than negative publicity. Pepsi learned the hard way that the wrong message at the right time won’t work, and that was a wake-up call for businesses around the world.

You don’t have to be Pepsi or Starbucks to send the wrong message and alienate your audiences––it can happen to a business of any size.

SaleCycle found that out when its content strategy failed.

The B2B company wanted to produce more content and provide more value to its readers. So far, so good.

SaleCycle started publishing 2-3 pieces of content per week, and their overall content output soared.

However, they focused more on quantity and less on quality.

Even though they had 100 blog posts, just 10 of those posts made up half of their total blog traffic.

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The reason? They were publishing lots of content that their audience wasn’t interested in.

While it may have been timely, it wasn’t relevant whatsoever.

These examples prove that you need both timely and relevant marketing. You can’t just have one or the other.

Being timely but not relevant (or vice versa) is an awkward imbalance. It makes it seem like you’re kind of paying attention to your audience, but not really.

Both the Pepsi ad and SaleCycle’s content strategy were timely, but they weren’t relevant. In both cases, customers felt distanced from the business.

Ultimately, it’s your customers who decide whether or not your message is timely and relevant. That’s why you have to prioritize them.

You have to know your customers

Being both timely and relevant requires you to listen to your customers, get to know them better, and produce content that they want to see.

That sounds simple enough, but how does it play out in real life?

Basically, you have to continually track certain elements of your audience and use customer feedback to improve.

Okay, that still sounds simple. But trust me––there’s a lot to it.

Many businesses think that they can just glance at online reviews or social media posts to create timely, relevant messages.

But here’s the thing – customers want you to know them super well.

But the customer-business relationship is a two-way street. If you’re not doing your part, why should your customers?

So put in the extra effort to build personas, get to know what your audience wants, and cater to them.

Make “timely and relevant” your motto

I hope you’re convinced that timely and relevant are truly the only message that matters.

That doesn’t mean you’re done.

Understanding is only the first step. You have to implement it.

As corny as it sounds, being timely and relevant has to be something you are and not just something you do. (I told you it sounded corny.)

You might tell yourself that you’re being timely and relevant, but if your customers still aren’t happy, then you’re not doing so well.

Pepsi is a perfect example. When it created the disastrous TV ad, it wasn’t trying to deliver irrelevant content to their customers, but they misunderstood the kind of content their customers would connect with.

There’s no doubt that Pepsi thought it was delivering a message that was both timely and relevant.

Just like you probably think you’re delivering the right messages to your customers.

For all I know, you are. But the point is that you can’t ever assume you’re doing the right thing and turn a blind eye to your customers.

If you want to create the most timely and relevant messages, that concept has to be a focus throughout your company.

Everyone on your team should be thinking “timely and relevant.”

Think of Amazon’s mission statement. It’s easy to remember and permeates every level of the company.

Our vision is to be Earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.

Every Amazon employee knows that this is the goal. In the same way, your entire team should live and breathe “timely and relevant.”

That concept has to guide everything you do.

Your social media team should be thinking “timely and relevant.” Your product manager should be thinking it. Everyone from the interns to the CEO should be thinking it.

If everyone isn’t on the same page, then one person’s efforts could get completely lost in translation.


You care about your customers, right?

Obviously that’s a rhetorical question because you do care about your customers.

But be brutally honest with yourself: When you put out your content, run your shiny new marketing campaign, or release a new product, does that attention to your customers still come across?

The Pepsi and Starbucks fiascos proved that intentions don’t always translate into actions. What begins as a good-natured marketing plan may end up taking a nosedive.

As much as it might hurt to admit, you might be ignoring your customers.

And you might be sending your customers the entirely wrong message, which is directly caused by ignoring your customers.

At the heart of the matter, being timely and relevant is all about taking care of your audience.

If you listen to what your customers have to say and understand what they want, you’ll almost never send the wrong message.

You’ll understand your audience’s wants, needs, interests, and dislikes.

You’ll be able to see what kind of content is both timely and relevant.

To make it even easier on yourself, you can take advantage of Kissmetrics Campaigns.


Campaigns was developed with the goal of delivering the right message at the right time. You’re able to send emails based on your users’ behaviors. Essentially, Campaigns is a behavior-based email engine. You find a segment of your audience that needs a nudge, and you create and send your emails in Campaigns.

The engine runs on the fuel of behavioral analytics and segments. Behavior-based emails mean that your emails are much more likely to be timely and relevant to your users.

And instead of relying on basic metrics like opens and clicks, Campaigns digs deep and looks at behavioral analytics.

Is your marketing and content timely and relevant? Have you had issues delivering the right message for your customers?

About the Author: Daniel Threlfall is an Internet entrepreneur and content marketing strategist. As a writer and marketing strategist, Daniel has helped brands including Merck, Fiji Water, Little Tikes, and MGA Entertainment. Daniel is co-founding Your Success Rocket, a resource for Internet entrepreneurs. He and his wife Keren have four children, and occasionally enjoy adventures in remote corners of the globe (kids included). You can follow Daniel on Twitter or see pictures of his adventures on Instagram.

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Video Profits Unleashed


Samsung’s New Galaxy Tab A Tablet Gives Small Businesses Functionality and Portability

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The New Samsung Galaxy Tab A Tablet Offers Long-lasting Battery Life, and More

Samsung Electronics (KRX:005930) this week introduced its newest Android tablet, the Galaxy Tab A, which appears to take on Amazon’s low-cost tablets like Amazon Fire. If you are looking for a budget tablet that delivers enhanced performance and everyday usability, the Galaxy Tab A could be it.

New Samsung Galaxy Tab A Tablet (8.0’’)

According to the South Korean multinational electronics company, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A tablet lets you do more, faster, whether at home or on the go. It features a long-lasting battery (5,000mAh) that lets you power through emails, movies, games, and more, all from a single charge that lasts up to 14 hours.

Small business owners who travel a lot and need a multi-functional device for working on the go may like that the Galaxy Tab A comes with 16GB of built-in storage with up to 256GB of expandable memory for additional files storage. And if you need more screen size than your phone screen to work from, the Tab A features an eight-inch, 1280 x 800 display that looks good in any light, while still keeping the device portable, the company says.

“It’s the tablet that’s just as easy to take on the go or curl up with on the couch, with long-lasting battery life to get the entire family through the day,” wrote Sangsuk Roh, Vice President of Tablet Product Strategy for Mobile Communications Business at Samsung Electronics, on the company’s NewsRoom blog.

Tab A Family Features

Similar to Amazon’s Fire tablets, the Galaxy Tab A also packs family features that allow kids to have their own accounts with parental controls set up beforehand, such as available content and time limits. A handy “kids mode” populates the tablet with games and apps from Samsung partners, including Lego.

Tab A has a sleek metal body and smooth rounded edges that make it comfortable to hold. It became available for $229.99 on November 1, offered in WiFi or LTE models in Black, Silver and Gold.

Image: Samsung

This article, “Samsung’s New Galaxy Tab A Tablet Gives Small Businesses Functionality and Portability” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Spotlight: Bonusly Offers a New Way for Businesses to Reward Employees

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Spotlight: Bonusly Employee Rewards Software Offers a New Way for Businesses to Recognize Employees

Rewarding employees can be a great way to keep your whole team engaged and happy at work. But what if there was a better way to actually hand out those rewards? That’s exactly what Bonusly aims to provide.

The company has created a system to allow team members to recognize great work from their co-workers. Read more about the company and its offering in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Provides a new way for companies to recognize great work from employees.

Co-founder and CEO Raphael Crawford-Marks told Small Business Trends, “Bonusly is a rapidly scaling start-up that empowers companies to reward and motivate employees through peer-to-peer micro-bonuses, so teams can recognize and publicly praise their colleagues for work they’ve done well. When Bob in accounting stays late to help meet a deadline, or Rick in sales closes a major deal, anyone within the company can recognize Bob and Rick with Bonusly points. As points accrue, they can be redeemed for real-life rewards such as cash, gifts cards to Sephora, Amazon or Home Depot, or even charitable donations. Bonusly seamlessly integrates with the leading HR and communication tools like Slack, Basecamp, BambooHR, Namely and ADP. Currently used by more than 1,000 companies including Hulu, Gilt and Chobani, Bonusly improves employee lifetime value by improving learning and development, increasing motivation and job satisfaction, and ultimately retaining employees for longer.”

Business Niche

Being fun and easy to use.

Aside from the various integrations and and analytical features, the platform makes the process of awarding bonuses fun for all involved, so they’ll be likely to actually use it.

Crawford-Marks says, “Bonusly is not a chore. You never have to send out a nag email reminding employees to use it. Employees find it fun, delightful, and habit-forming. You can enrich bonuses with images, emojis, and Gifs.”


How the Business Got Started

Because of frustration at other startups.

Crawford-Marks says, “[Co-founder] John Quinn and I were both veterans of startups large and small, and had been frustrated by a lack of recognition, and also by companies that asked only managers to dole out recognition and spot bonuses. We knew peers had the best vantage point to identify and celebrate contributions and accomplishments, yet there was no way to easily empower employees to do so. So we decided to build Bonusly.”

Biggest Win

Securing a major round of funding in 2014.

Crawford-Marks explains, “The company was bootstrapped up until that point, until one of Bonusly’s paying customers introduced us to the investor at FirstMark. That introduction was significant, since it opened the door to a meeting and eventually landed us $1M in seed funding. The customer? InVision, who is one of Bonusly’s strongest supporters to this day.”

Biggest Risk

Moving away from a major startup hub.

Crawford-Marks says, “Bonusly was founded in San Francisco in 2012 and eventually moved the company to Boulder, CO in 2016 with some employees working remotely from various cities around the U.S. It was a risk from a sales and marketing perspective since the largest deals are typically done on the coasts. Also, the Bay Area is the center of the tech industry, where startups have unfettered access to media, investors and talent. However, the move has proven to be hugely beneficial, opening the door to new tech and design talent in Boulder at a more affordable cost. It has also nurtured the team’s work/life balance, who enjoy living more healthy, active lifestyles.”

Lesson Learned

Have a plan for charging customers early on.

Crawford-Marks says, “Bonusly launched as a free service John and I were curious to see take off. It quickly gained traction as the go-to peer to peer rewards system and we then realized, it’s difficult to monetize something people have been getting for free. The company adapted by offering a freemium pricing plan, where teams up to 8 have free access and larger teams scale up from there.”

Spotlight: Bonusly Employee Rewards Software Offers a New Way for Businesses to Recognize Employees

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Hiring a full-time marketer.

Crawford-Marks says, “This person would focus on driving both new and expansion demand through integrated and automated marketing, targeting SMBs and mid-market enterprises.”

Favorite Quote

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” —Winston Churchill

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Bonusly, Raphael Crawford-Marks

This article, “Spotlight: Bonusly Offers a New Way for Businesses to Reward Employees” was first published on Small Business Trends

Facebook Marketplace Enhancements Can Benefit Used Car Dealers

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Facebook Partners with Auto Dealers to Offer More Options

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) Marketplace has been making it easier for people to discover, buy and sell a variety of items locally — from household items, to electronics and apparel — since October of last year. Now Facebook is adding more options specifically for used car dealers in the U.S. to connect with local shoppers.

Facebook Partners with Auto Dealers to Offer More Options

According to the giant social networking site, Marketplace is expanding its popular used car inventory by partnering with leaders in the auto industry. This will reportedly help both used car dealers and shoppers in local areas make more of these connections, and conveniently transact with each other.

If your small business sells products or other items (including used cars) locally, you should have a Facebook presence to market your products, and an online inventory listed on the Marketplace. Selling in the Marketplace is fairly straightforward. Simply take a photo of your item or add it from your camera roll. Enter a product name, description and price. Confirm your location. Select a category and post.

Anyone looking in your area can find your item and message you if they want to buy it.

Facebook says the Marketplace will allow car shoppers in the U.S. to:

  • Browse inventory from auto dealers through new partnerships with Edmunds,, Auction123, CDK Global and SOCIALDEALER
  • Find what they’re looking for by visiting the enhanced vehicles section and filtering listings by year, make, model, mileage, vehicle type and transmission
  • See trusted car values from Kelley Blue Book
  • Communicate directly with dealership representatives via Messenger, powered by chat providers like ActivEngage, CarCode, Contact At Once!, and Gubagoo

“In addition to vehicles, we are testing features in other Marketplace categories like jobs, event tickets, retail, and home rentals to give people more options when looking for products and services in their community,” writes Vice President of Facebook Marketplace, Deborah Liu on the company’s NewsRoom blog.

Car For Sale Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Facebook Marketplace Enhancements Can Benefit Used Car Dealers” was first published on Small Business Trends