Marketers, educators, and parents all lament the shortening attention span. According to The Guardian, attention spans are not just shortening, but also "narrowing," meaning that there is more media competing for our attention, which forces us to focus on things for shorter periods of time.
In Mathew Sweezey's view, all this noise makes conventional marketing models obsolete. In this new "infinite media" environment, where customers shape their own experience, we need to create context—"a link between someone's immediate desires and the experiences a brand creates to fulfill them."
I invited Mathew to Marketing Smarts to talk about his forthcoming book, Context Marketing Revolution: How to Motivate Buyers in the Age of Infinite Media. We talk about the five key elements of context, and how you can use context to create a deeper connection between your audience and your brand that goes well beyond product.
Here are just a few highlights from our conversation.
Know the five key elements of "context" for marketing (08:26) "I break context down into five key pieces. It's available, it has to be permissioned, it has to be personal, it has to be authentic, and it has to be purposeful. If we look at any contextual experience, it has these five key things.
High-performing marketing organizations provide real-time experiences (08:05): "For an experience to have any effect and to motivate somebody, it has to be there in that moment, so availability's a big, key thing. We think about concepts of availability. Real-time is a big one. When we do the research, high-performers are almost 10 times more likely to be able to create real-time experiences."
"Personal" marketing involves actual human interaction (09:33) "When we talk about 'personal,' personal traditionally we thought about as 'how do I make this more personalized.' But really what we need to think about in the context of the modern society and the infinite media era is the highest level of personal is not 'how personal can I make it,' it's 'how personal can I deliver it.' This is where we start to see person-to-person interactivity. Because everyone has the ability to publish and engage.
"Think about all of the big keywords we know about: influencer marketing, social selling, consumer advocacy, employee advocacy. What's at the foundation of every one of those? It's one human engaging with another human on behalf of a brand. That is what the apex of 'personal' is, and when we do that we can reach that greater context of two people interacting with each other."
Permission in marketing yields data, which helps us to scale personal experiences (10:25) "Two people can't engage with each other if there's not permission first and foremost. Permission also gives marketers one other big, key thing for reaching context, and that's scale. Because with permission, we also get personal data. And when we have that personal data, we now can use that personal data in our automations to scale these experiences much farther.
"Whether that means using automation to deploy some type of pushed marketing—an email or a message on a website, or just as easily we could use that to trigger another human to engage with that human. Notifying a salesperson to engage with an individual at this moment about this topic. It could be putting a notification to our advocates, saying, 'Hey, share this, mention these people, discuss these things.' There's lots of new ways we can think about how we connect people, but that personal data is a key part."
Mathew and I talked about much more, including the other elements of context, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Mat Sweezey, director of market strategy at Salesforce. Mat is the author of Context Marketing Revolution: How to Motivate Buyers in the Age of Infinite Media. Follow him on Twitter at @msweezey.