One of the biggest response killers I see with the marketing materials I critique for clients and coaching members has to do with what I call “marketing context.” By definition, context means the set of circumstances or facts surrounding a particular event, situation, scenario, etc.
In more practical terms, what I mean by “marketing context” is the appropriateness and sensibility of a particular marketing message delivered to a particular target in a particular way.
For example, you should be talking to your current customers/clients/patients differently than you would talk to a cold prospect. When talking to a customer, the context of your relationship allows you to be more informal and personal because of the existing relationship.
With a prospect, the relationship has yet to be created, so the context of the relationship is one of a “warm-up period” where, over time, you allow them to get to know, like and trust you. I always use the analogy of dating. Chances are most people do not ask their spouse to marry them on the first date. There is a courting period, an engagement period and finally marriage.
Let me share a specific example of marketing context and how it relates to day-to-day marketing. My friend and mentor, Bill Glazer, often talks about his most successful marketing piece which was a four-page letter on yellow legal paper and appeared to be hand-written. The piece generated a ton of business and Bill even won an industry award because of its success and uniqueness.
Other marketers see this letter and try to emulate Bill’s success. In particular, I heard about one story where a marketer basically did the same thing Bill did, but got ZERO RESPONSE.
The reason Bill was successful and this other person was not was because Bill understood the context of how to use the handwritten letter, whereas the other person did not. In Bill’s situation, he sent the letter to people who already knew him and knew what he stood for (including some pretty outrageous marketing). The context of the relationship was familiarity and a hand-written letter from Bill was congruent with the relationship.
On the other hand, the marketer who copied the letter, sent it to COLD PROSPECTS! Think about this for a second. You receive a funky-looking, handwritten letter from somebody you don’t know. Does this make sense?
Probably not, which is why his response rate was zero.
I teach people how to improve the attention-grabbing power of their marketing by using copy cosmetics. These are proven techniques to grab attention and keep the reader reading. In the case of Bill Glazer’s sales letter he used several techniques, including simulated handwriting.
Even though I am a huge fan of copy cosmetics there are times when the marketing context dictates I use only a few copy cosmetic techniques. For example, when I create a multi-step, lead-generation direct mail sequence, I tend to use only the basic copy cosmetic techniques like underlining, boldfacing, subheads, etc.
However on subsequent steps, I may use techniques to convey a more informal approach, such has handwritten notes, because I have already started a relationship with the reader. Their use is suitable as the reader starts to get to know me.
You should always be considering the context of your marketing message and consider whether or not it makes sense for your target. Is it appropriate for the current state of your relationship and the situation surrounding it? Most importantly, remember, the context is from the point of view of your target – NOT YOU!
Mike Capuzzi is a marketing strategist, author and speaker. Since 1998, he has been helping entrepreneurs and business owners improve their marketing and response rates. He also leads over 150 business owners and entrepreneurs within the Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle – Philadelphia Chapter.