The Power of Context: How to Deliver Product Content That Gets Seen


September 5, 2018 | by Tim Reintgen

Be the ‘King of Content’ they said! That’s why everyone is talking about releasing the best content - having the most successful content marketing strategy, right? I mean, don't get me wrong, no products will successfully sell without kick-ass content! But that's not what this article is about. I want to give you some food for thought in a different direction: It's not only about the right content to get your products in front of customers, but also about nailing the right context.

Sticks and stones may break my bones…

But a properly timed insult can ruin my week.

You see, the same words can have completely different meanings, depending on where, and when, they are seen.

In today's world we are constantly attacked by pop-ups, commercials, and in-between YouTube & Facebook clips, most of the time it just seems like background noise…

...unless the timing and the context is delivered on point.

For example: Take the word “Football”.

What is the first thing that comes to mind?

If you're from the U.S. it’s probably a pigskin, cheerleaders, Tom Brady, and the Lombardi Trophy. If you are from Europe (or practically anywhere else) you're thinking of goal kicks, Messi, and the Premier league.

This kind of confusion can also make for some awkward situations.

Take the “ok” sign: thumb and index finger in a circle. When U.S. President, Richard Nixon, visited Brazil in the 1950s and made this sign with his hand, he was almost sent home on the next plane. Why? Because what the Brazilians understood was “go Fu%k yourself”.

What works in one place, just doesn’t in another.

I think you get my point!

So what does this have to do with content marketing?

You can have the best steak on the planet on a plate front of you, but if you just ate, you won't care a bit. The key here is selective attention: People are more receptive to things they have focus on already. Have you ever thought about making a bigger purchase, like a car? All of the sudden, you seem to see the car of your dreams everywhere. It's not like the car magically appears on the street, but you already have it in mind, so you notice it more.

How to use context to boost your content

As a marketer, you have to use this selective attention to your advantage by delivering your content at the right time, in the right place. But this is not simply luck, you can actually engineer the situation by doing the right research. Here are some things you can do:

Know your customer

So simple, but yet so crucial, I repeat: KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER! Do everything in your power to learn about the people you want to sell to. What websites are they visiting, what they like, what they don't like, how their daily life looks, how frequently they check their email and at what times.

Don’t trust me? Ask Tom Burrell, the advertising pioneer who knew that you couldn’t say the same thing to everyone and get the same dang result. He turned some important ad campaigns on their heads when he introduced the concept of tailoring the message to different groups. When considering Marlboro’s advertising from a black man’s perspective he said:

First of all, when you start talking about Longhorns, you've lost me...I'm done. And then when you start talking about a hundred years ago, you lost me on that too because that's the last thing I want to do is go back a hundred years ago with a bunch of rural, cowboy white guys. That doesn't sound too safe. [So] I took it out of the Marlboro country, and I put it into the city...and the Marlboro man became a very cool city dude”

He changed an entire brand concept to fit a new target market and it worked because he knew who they were and what they identified with.

Just to confirm, the unlying purpose of this blog is to absolutely make you sick of hearing the phrase ‘Know your customers’. Let’s move on.

Know your customer, and get the job done

Now I want to introduce you to the theory of innovation. Clayton Christensen explored the idea of a job being done, which implies that you have to go one further in knowing your customer; it’s simply not enough to know the specific target market demographics, NO! You need to know what is their job that they need getting done, and the exact process that led to them choosing your product to do it.

Now, a while back Mcdonalds marketers were pulling their hair out, because despite having identified the precise target market for the Mcdonalds milkshake, sales simply weren’t increasing.

A fellow Harvard researcher decided to find out what these milkshake buyers are looking to solve, what is the job to be done? This job, as it turns out, was to provide a filling, entertaining, car-friendly snack during the boring, early morning commute - go figure!?

But by realizing the job that people needed to get done could be solved by hiring a milkshake, and not other products, they were able to better tailor their marketing towards said job getting done.

Essentially, you can tailor your content to ensure that your customer knows your product is the one they hire to get their job done! Just remember.

Find the right outlets

After you know your customer well enough (damn right I’m talking grandmothers maiden name) you know where to find them, at what stage of their lives they are in, and how they like to be talked to, and what job they are looking to solve. You may think that promoting McDonalds on a vegan community site would be a wasted effort, but think again. People search for “mcdonalds vegan” more than 18,000 times per month. Vegans need fast options too, especially in a pinch. So if they know without thinking that you have options for them, why would they make the extra effort to figure out if Burger King can cater to them too?

Say the right thing, the right way, at the right time

So let’s quickly check our list here. You know who your buyers are, and you know where you want to promote your content, now you have to say the right thing to get them to engage. It is important to get this part right. This is what separates the men from the boys, so to speak. To continue with the vegan McDonalds example, the way you deliver the content is tricky.

Will it be more valued coming straight from the horse’s mouth by having someone from the corporate marketing team posting to the community? Or will they accept the content better if it came from a respected member of the community itself? Should you offer a discount or ask for feedback in order to participate, or hang back and comment on someone else’s query? How does the community feel about your brand in the first place? Is something high profile happening that could swing their feelings?

All of this will affect how well the information is received and should be considered. But the more you know your customers and your brand, it should be like second nature.

And if you ever wonder to yourself if context is important or not, remember this:

Donald Trump is the president of the US.

He said the right thing, the right way, at the right time (to all the right people). Ethics aside, even if you don’t agree with him you have to admire what he did from a marketing perspective.

I know, I’ve left you with a lot to think about right?

So here’s a breakdown of the key takeaways for understanding the power of context for your content:

  • Do your research and make sure your content is tailored to meet different target markets, ‘one fits all’ most certainly does not apply when it comes to context.
  • How to make this happen? Know your customer! Every nitty gritty detail that will help you as a marketing better sell your products.
  • Make sure you’re solving their needs, but more importantly, let them know you’re the one who will get that job done.
  • Make sure your content is seen in the right place, by the right people, and of course, at the right time.
Tim Reintgen

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