Providing the Right Information at the Right Time
As a content marketer, you sometimes need to cast a wide net. When writing copy for your company’s website, for example, you’ll be working under the assumption that almost anyone could be a potential customer. And you’ll write your web copy based on that assumption.
At the same time, you realize that not every product is right for every customer, especially when you’re selling financial products. With some campaigns, you know you’ll need to target the right customer with the right information at the right time. And that’s where contextual marketing comes in.
Contextual marketing 2.0
In a nutshell, contextual marketing is a form of personalized marketing that allows you to target specific (current or potential) customers based on how they behave and what they search for online. You know what this looks like. You Google “best boots for Canadian winters” and search through the results. A few minutes later, you log onto Facebook and the ads all seem to be for winter boots.
With the ever-increasing move toward mobile, contextual marketing can go one step further to target the right customer with right information at the right time AND in the right place. You search for winter boots on your mobile, and you start receiving ads for the best deals on boots at stores within a couple of kilometres of where you are at that moment. You might even get a coupon to put toward your purchase, texted right to your phone.
With the ever-increasing move toward mobile, contextual marketing can go one step further to target the right customer with right information at the right time AND in the right place.
Targeted ads are a good example of contextual marketing, but they may not fit with what many content marketers do. So, what does this type of marketing look like within the context of a broader content marketing campaign?
Let’s look at the example of sports retailer Finish Line. The company created a direct-email campaign to announce a big sale at its stores. The announcement included a countdown clock that told customers how much longer the sale would last based on when they opened the email. Every time a customer opened the email, the countdown clock would update itself, making customers aware of the time-sensitive nature of the sale and creating a sense of urgency.
Finish Line also used its customers’ location data and stock information from each store to enhance the sale announcement. In addition to a countdown clock, customers could see a map to the nearest Finish Line location and up-to-date inventory of everything available at that particular store.
The company even took into account what would happen if the email was opened after the sale ended by providing an alternate message of great deals still available at their stores.
Contextual marketing for finance
Some financial services firms are already using contextual marketing with great success. One large retail bank, for example, tracks when a customer uses his or her credit card to make a purchase. The bank then sends the customer information on how to save money on similar purchases next time. One large retail bank, for example, tracks when a customer uses his or her credit card to make a purchase. The bank then sends the customer information on how to save money on similar purchases next time.
By using location data, the bank could also choose to guide customers to the best deals on complementary products. For example, if the customer just bought a new printer, they could be guided toward the best deals on paper or ink refills. The tie-in here is that the bank is giving customers information that will help them successfully manage their credit card debt.
A note of caution: Contextual marketing could feel invasive to some customers. There are plenty of people who use the word “creepy” to describe those Facebook ads that seem to know exactly where they’ve been, when and with whom.
The examples we’ve given here, with Finish Line and the large retail bank, weren’t overly invasive and were well received by customers. But if you plan to use what could be seen as very private personal data to create tailored content, consider allowing customers to opt-in to your marketing program first. And avoid using sensitive information that has become public but that a customer may not want you to have, such as news of a recent divorce.
Yes, it can be a challenge to create tailored information that doesn’t cross a line, but for those who get it right, the payoff is often significant.
NBA Player Carl Landry Demonstrates the Value of Persistence in Life and Work
Written by: Jon Sabes
When you meet Carl Landry, stand-out college basketball player and nine-year NBA player, you imagine that becoming a professional basketball star was a straight forward run for the 6-foot-nine-inch power forward.
However, when you go deeper into Carl’s background, becoming a NBA professional was less than certain and little came easily to the 33-year-old from Milwaukee:
- He was cut from his high school team as a freshman and averaged less than ten points a game when he did play as a senior.
- He started his college career not at Purdue, but a junior college where it was not clear he would play.
- When he finally got to Purdue, he tore his ACL in his knee his first year and reinjured it the next year.
- While his family held a party for him the night of the NBA draft, he slept in the Philadelphia airport after missing a flight following a workout for the 76ers.
- In the NBA playoffs, Carl had a tooth knocked out, but came back in the same game to make a game-winning blocked shot as the Rockets beat the Utah Jazz 94-92.
Landry, who I interviewed on my podcast, Innovating Life with Jon Sabes (www.jonsabes.com), is a remarkable example of the value of “persistence.” In a time where technology creates the image that anything is possible at the touch of a button, persistence is an under-appreciated trait. When I spoke with Carl, I clearly saw someone for whom success has only come through a force of will that made him a NBA player, but it also made him a better player every year he played. That’s the kind of personality that has produced greatness in business as well as sports.
Carl was, in fact, drafted that night he spent in the airport. The Seattle Supersonics chose him as the 31st overall pick and then traded him to the Houston Rockets where he rode the bench for much of the first half of the season. When All-Star teammate Yao Ming was injured, he stepped in and played a key role in the Rockets astonishing 22-game winning streak (the third longest streak in NBA history). And, that season, after sitting on the bench for 33 of the first 36 games, he was named to the All-Rookie second team.
Carl was the first in his family to go to college. “I told myself that this was my ticket out, so I did everything I possibly could to be the best person in school and also on the court,” he said.
His family life in Milwaukee showed him what he didn’t want to do. “Just being honest with you, seeing some my cousins, peers, they went to work for jobs paying six, seven dollars an hour or they didn’t go to work at all and then living off welfare. I didn’t want that.”
When he was first injured, he had to contemplate the end of a career before it even got started. “When you have an ACL tear, it’s over…no more basketball,” he told me. “I said, God, give me health again and I’ll do everything I can to leave it all out on the line and be a successful individual.”
On my podcast, Carl pointed out another interesting lesson he learned in the NBA: Not doing things just to fit in.
“Fitting in was easy,” he said. “Doing everything that everybody else does was easy. If I stood out in some type of way, I’m going to have different results. I’m going to have stand-out results.”
That’s called the “Law of Contrast” and it produces that exact effect of changing the outcomes that everyone else is experiencing. Carl is smart, he recognized that differences make a difference, and doing whatever it takes is what is required to make real, meaningful differences.
Every off-season for the last 11 years, he has run a camp for kids in Milwaukee where he tells youth his story of hard work and persistence. “I always tell the kids to apply themselves and always be persistent,” he said. “If you dream, apply yourself and be persistent. With hard work, man, the sky’s the limit.”
When Carl says the sky’s the limit he means it. He is smart to recognize that it’s important to dream big, because if we don’t – we may be selling ourselves short. “You have to dream bigger than your mind could ever imagine,” he said. “I wanted a nice house. I wanted a nice car. I said, and I got all of that. So, what do I do, do I stop now? Maybe I didn’t dream big enough.” That’s a big statement coming from a kid who grew up to be the first in his family to graduate college and go on to be not only a top NBA basketball start, but a good businessman, father and someone who gives back to the community.
I’m convinced that in whatever he takes on as a basketball player or in his post-hoops career, Carl Landry is not going to stop getting better at whatever he does, and in the process of doing so, make the world a better place.
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