2013: The Beginning of Context

Context Marketing _ Sensei MarketingI just ran a Google search: year of content. According to the results, some people were saying (in 2011) that 2012 would be year of content marketing, while others are saying 2013 would be that year. Pam Moore wrote a great post in June reminding us that content is not a shiny new object. I, for one, completely agree. Certainly, since the dawn of marketing, we have used content in all our outreach efforts. After all, what is marketing without content? A blank page!

Now it isn’t a secret that over the past several years consumers have become active participants in their marketing experience, essentially being able to call up marketing messages when they want them. Social media has given our audiences the tools they need to communicate and to talk to – and about – us (brands). Meanwhile, digital evolution has given us an overload of information we’ve affectionately called big data. It is in this realm that we’ve started implementing content marketing for  customer acquisition and customer development strategies.

We already know that consumers have more faith in word-of-mouth from like-minded people and advocates. We already know that consumers are fed up with marketing message bombardment to the point where they actively tune brands out. We already know that people don’t want what you’re selling; they just want what they want… and they want it now! As a result, to be successful in this environment, content alone will not be the answer.

I suspect that in 2013, we will be entering the age of context marketing. Truthfully, we have all dabbled in this area, but its importance is on the rise… and quick!

“Content marketing is about having a genuine understanding of the life context of your audience, and then delivering a customized message, solution or engagement to them at the right time.”

Context marketing is not a short-term profit maker. It is a long-term trust builder which, done well, can create an emotional connection to your brand and lead to loyalty. This long-term approach is critical to a brand’s longevity in the market. I am not, for one moment, suggesting we forego annual profit; without profit, a business cannot survive. But if all your efforts are focused on the short-term numbers: push messages, discounting, hard-sell calls-to-action; you may very well see annual profits this year but your likelihood for brand sustainability over time may decrease.

Context marketing will help you achieve long-term results and sustainability, but it must be done with honesty. It is about humanizing your brand (note: not personifying, humanizing). It is about becoming a part of your audience’s community –without intruding, with genuine concern and positive impact. Context marketing is about understanding what is driving your audience to make decisions, showing genuine understanding, engaging in dialogue, and providing valuable solutions. It’s about them, not you.

Judi Samuels

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Is 2013 the year of “context marketing?” If so, how are you going to understand your consumer’s context? And, how are you engaging with them in a way that is relevant?

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