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An SUV at the Paris Auto Show, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006.
An SUV at the Paris Auto Show, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2006.

Mia Pearson

SUV display a triumph of context over content Add to ...

Content may still be king, but context is gaining ground. Fast.

We hear it over and over: marketers and social media experts saying content is king. The argument is that if your company nails the right message, if it creates the most compelling video, or if it captures the right visual, your campaign will be successful. You will have matched your message with your consumer.

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I don’t think it’s that simple. Content is important and more companies need to do a better job of what they create and how sharable it is. But if your customer is not in the right frame of mind or not in a place where the message fits with what they are doing, it won’t resonate. The context in which someone consumes the content is equally important, and it’s not something every marketer or social media strategist thinks about at the start of the planning stage.

It was a real-life moment that got me thinking about this, and how important time and place, or context, is to a successful strategy.

Last week I was in arrivals at Pearson Airport in Toronto, briskly walking through the crowds of people and checking my phone when something caught my eye. There was this elegant yet powerful new SUV showcased in the centre of the luggage pickup area. It was a brand known for high-end, off-road performance typically targeted at men. The new model was completely different – a bit unexpected. Everyone was stopping to look.

In terms of context, it was beautifully placed in an area where I needed to kill time. My luggage was going to take at least 15 minutes to arrive. Other than checking up on e-mails I missed while in the air, it’s a time when there is nothing to do but wait. By presenting something so different and unexpected, the company was able to attract attention – and broaden its audience beyond the core male customer base and reach out to women.

The same holds true with social media. Tweets on Wednesdays and weekends generate the most interaction and experts recommend posting to Facebook at noon or just after 7 p.m., to receive the most views and engagement. The site you chose to post your online advertisement is as important as the content within it.

Effective context doesn’t happen by accident. It needs to be consciously created based on a deep understanding of the customer. Consumers have many ways to connect with a brand, and the when and where needs to happen on their terms. When done right, the end result can be exactly what your marketing campaign had in mind.

I experienced it first-hand last week: I was in the dealership test-driving the SUV by the weekend. It worked.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic . She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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