Marketing Troubleshooter Snippets: Salience

It’s a word marketers are hearing more and more. Usually by somebody with Professor at the start of their name. It’s a word normal people do not use. So, what the hell is salience?

Salience describes how and if somebody will think of you when they think of your sector. Basically, are you famous, infamous or unknown in your industry? Let’s have examples.


Salience in action

If I mention electric cars, who do you think of?

Was there anyone who DIDN’T think of Tesla? Despite the fact that practically every car manufacturer now produces an electric car, we associate the sector with Tesla. And we probably think of them as advanced trend-setters. And maybe we think of Elon Musk. Tesla has strong salience in the electric car market.

How about fast-food joints?

Did anyone not think of McDonalds? Naughty but nice? These examples work well because there’s a clear market leader in these sectors.

But how about coffee houses?

These two came to my mind. If I was prepared to pay £5 for a cup of coffee I could probably think of a few more but I’m not so I can’t. In itself, that’s a statement about salience. Apart from “over-priced”, I associate nothing with them.


It isn’t always good

Having salience doesn’t necessarily mean somebody thinks of you in a positive light. It just means they know of you.

If you think of double-glazing a certain name comes straight to my mind and I think of self-interested pushy salesmen and a telesales operation that phones you repeatedly for months. I won’t be mentioning the name for fear of getting sued. But they’ve got salience. Just not in a positive way.

So why do you want it?

It’s mostly self-explanatory but it helps you build a strong brand. And why do you want a strong brand? Higher profits and higher volumes. I won’t go into that in detail in a snippet.

You can’t have a strong brand without salience but you can have salience without a strong brand. Remember, it doesn’t mean people know GOOD things about you, just that they know you.

So what else do you need to know?


A word to avoid

A word of warning.

If you want to alienate the rest of your senior management team – the non-marketers – use the word “salience”. They won’t have a clue what you’re talking about. If you think buzzwords make you sound smart, think again. Buzzwords drive divisions between people. Use words like this and you’ll be the kid sitting on his own in the corner. Keep “salience” for times when you’re talking to other marketers. Maybe they’ll be impressed.

If they are, I’d go and talk to somebody else.

This post is part of the Marketing Troubleshooter series.