( Photo courtesy Golin )

At Golin, we believe that being relevant isn’t the only measure of success, but it’s the most important. 

Relevance is a two-part principle. It’s what attracts and keeps people paying attention to what a brand or product has to say and moves them to act. In other words, a willingness to listen (pay attention), and a willingness to act.

How does this work within the produce industry? If we want customers to listen to us, we have to start by listening to them. What are they talking about, what trends are capturing their attention, what is a national conversation versus a local topic? 

It’s not just that buying is local, but social listening will tell you that trends and conversations vary greatly depending on geography. Which means to stay relevant, we should be tailoring different messages to different locales.

For example, in 2016, “How to cut a mango” was the No. 1 “how to” Google search for food. As a marketer, you think you’ve found the problem to solve. We should educate everyone on how to cut a mango. 

However, the “how to cut a mango” search varies enormously state to state. In some places everyone knows how to cut a mango, so they’re searching for new uses. If you’re listening on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter you can meet customer needs without making assumptions.

In another exploration, we looked at 2018 search data and social conversations for kiwifruit. We found different levels of interest and knowledge about kiwifruit and one of its key benefits, vitamin C. 

Texas is different from California, which is different from Minnesota — once again reminding us that localizing is the key. 

In addition, we found that the social media posts with the most consumer engagement came from places we never would have imagined: a botanist, an African-American entertainment site and a DIY video site. 

Clearly, it’s important to listen and get outside of your comfort zone when it comes to finding people who are influencers.

How do we get to know the people who are buying our products? There’s obviously no one answer. But there are more ways than ever to listen and tap into the world. 

The reality is you can pay a company to do the research, or you can do it yourself. 

There are more food influencers than in any other industry. They are free for everyone to follow and engage with on every social media platform. The key is to find the influencers who have the most engaged followers.

People are getting very good at ignoring things that are irrelevant to them. They swipe, click, or scroll past anything that doesn’t merit their attention. 

So, before you spend money saying what you want to say, make sure you’ve listened and know what your customer is interested in hearing about. Make sure what you’re saying is relevant.

Jesse Dienstag is executive director and head of planning for public relations agency Golin.