It’s official, marketing is irrelevant.  At least, it looks that way when you look at the topic of this year’s International Marketing Congress.  After all, if all was in good order, would a thousand marketers gather to discuss the ways they can increase the relevance of their profession?

I know, things aren’t that black and white.  And I also know that not everyone going to the conference does so for the content and agenda.  But I would nonetheless like to challenge both those that visit the event as well as those that are on stage to do a little bit more than just “chat about relevance” over a glass of champagne.

We’ve had enough marketing conferences where gurus say that the world needs to change, audiences wholeheartedly agree, and the next Monday the world just continues as it was.  We don’t need more words.  We don’t really need more tools.  We definitely don't need more thoughts about the next bright and shiny object that is going to save the marketing profession.

What we need is less conversation and more action.  Most of what we need has been invented, so rather than talk about how marketing needs to be more relevant, engaging and reputation focused we should focus on actually DOING IT.

So if, like me, you’re going to the conference next weekend, I would like to throw you a challenge:

If you attend the conference as a delegate                               

Don’t get caught up in the marketing circus of erudite gurus and naked girls promoting the latest advertising agency on the block (for our American readers “welcome to Belgium” :-)).   Instead, ask yourself How relevant am I? How relevant is it what I do? Really?  If you need some help pondering this, let me offer you following questions:

  • If you interrupted your Christmas dinner to tell your family about your last three marketing initiatives, would they really get excited for any other reason than that they love you?  Even if they were in the target audience?
  • If you had taken half the year off and scratched 50% of your marketing initiatives, would your business have lost more net profits than the savings you would have generated?  What if you hadn’t shown up at all?
  • Have the marketing initiatives you have taken made this world a better place to live in? Or have you just added to the clutter, the noise and the pollution?

If the answers are anything but a resounding yes, I respectfully submit that when you go to the #SMC2010, you simply ignore anyone trying to sell you relevance as the next quick fix.  Hunt for those pieces of knowledge that allow you to make a real difference.  After all, relevance is not a trend, it’s a state of mind. 

If you have the honour of speaking at the #SMC2010

Please lay off the bright and shiny object talk.  Please don’t just come with great concepts and stories but no examples, or suggestions on how to implement them.  Just like in real life, we all know we should eat healthily, exercise and save the whales.  But knowing is not enough.  Show us HOW to do it.  What are the steps we need to take?  How do we connect what you present to the customer’s experience.  How do we translate it into bottom line results?

You will be facing a room of close to a thousand people that are asking the question “How can I become more relevant to my customers, to my business, to the world at large?”. 

Please add to all our lives by making your speech relevant as well.

Full disclosure:  yes, I’m going to the conference as guest blogger which has given me some perks.  But – as the organizer can vouch – even considering to go anyway :-).

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