Why Marketing Context Matters

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We’re always talking about testing, right? How often do I write about finding that right target market, about catering your message to the people you want to attract? Well, this takes that concept a step further… today we talk about putting your marketing message in context.

Just as your message and your product are important, the environment in which you are promoting it is also important. It’s one of the main reasons that split testing is so crucial, since a nearly infinite number of factors can affect a buying decision at any given moment…

For example:

You could have the best ice cream ever made, with the greatest, most engaging advertisements and 100% satisfaction guarantee – but it probably still wouldn’t sell very well in a frigid New England February.

It’s not a problem with the product… or the message… it’s just out of context.

Put that same setup on a Miami boardwalk, and you’d be rolling in profits!

Now, that’s a pretty extreme example, but there are all sorts of contextual factors to consider, from physical location and time of year, to the likely mindset of the people who encounter your marketing messages.

A beer ad would probably be better received on Friday afternoon simply because the average viewer is done with the workweek…

It makes me think of one of kids’ first lemonade stands… There was plenty of foot traffic, but most of the people we saw didn’t have their wallets with them. It doesn’t mean that lemonade won’t sell, it just means that they would have been better suited in an area near other businesses… where people would likely be shopping instead of walking the dog or out for a jog, and therefore be carrying their wallets.

Context is important.

Take a look at this article from Get Elastic, where they talk about an experiment involving a stand selling sunglasses…

The backdrop for the stand, in this case a plain wall for part of the test, and a lingerie store for the other, actually played a factor in which style of sunglasses gained more customer interest.

The messages were identical in both versions of the test, but the contextual location made the difference in which style of glasses were more popular.

This indicates that the success of a marketing message is effectively influenced by the other pieces of marketing around it!

It boils down to another angle we must consider when putting together campaigns, deciding on time periods for product launches, or selecting where a particular piece of marketing material might go…

Not only do we have to consider the product, the target audience, the effectiveness of the message, and the image a give company wants to portray…

…we must also consider what will be going on around a given location, what might be going on in the lives and minds of our target audience, time of day, time of year, the method by which an individual will come in contact with a piece of marketing…

And on and on…

Some of this you won’t be able to figure out until you’ve done some testing to see what factors are at work. What works in one situation may not work in another, simply because of differences in context that might not be immediately visible…

So what can you do about it?

Test! Test! Test!

And while you’re testing, think about all of those little intangible things that could be affecting how receptive people are to your message….

Each and every one of them is a factor in the success of your marketing.

In your corner,


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