Are You Contextually Correct?

Context Matters

Remember the old saying “if you have lemons, make margaritas”? Well I’m afraid you’ll have to make lemonade if you’re context is less than party friendly.  Yes, context really matters.

What are you doing as a marketer to take advantage of your contextual environment? This can be especially important for retailers and others with physical locations that have challenges beyond their control. Online marketers have to be similarly concerned with what other messages are sharing their digital neighborhood.

Context is king according to Brian Solis in his comments at the recent DMA 2010 Social Media Face-Off. This twist on the much used “Content is King” adage underscores that our ability to respond to and remember messages has a lot to do with their relevance to the environment in which they’re presented.  Surprisingly, many marketers overlook this critical point.

To highlight how to take the concept of “Context is King” to heart and make it work for your business, here are a couple of examples of New York City based businesses that made margaritas from the lemons of their otherwise disheartening situation.

  • Chase Bank uses a banner that reads: “If there’s scaffolding, we’re under it” to deal with having scaffolding around its retail establishment, a potential customer turn-off. This turns a negative situation into a quirky, attention–getting campaign emphasizing the ubiquity of Chase branches in Manhattan.
  • Another retailer used humor to stand out during the lowest days of the recession. They put up “Not Going Out of Business Sale” signs, when many other stores were having sales because they actually were closing their doors.

As a marketer, think about the context of your message before you distribute it. Don’t plaster the same ad or marketing content across all of your media platforms. The most obvious example of this mistake  is posting the same television ads on your website, blog and/or YouTube without modifying them for online consumption.

To this end, properly adapt your message and related creative to work in each specific media environment. Assess the platform’s strengths and weaknesses and incorporate your findings into your content and its display. In a world where information overloaded consumers have highly developed methods of screening out extraneous messages, you need to do more to make your content stand out in a context-friendly fashion!

Happy marketing,

Heidi Cohen


Photo credits:

  • Lemons: Kretyen via Flickr
  • Marketing signs: (c)2010 Heidi Cohen – All rights reserved via Creative Commons.
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