In marketing, there’s what’s called “the 4 C’s” – context, channel, community, and commerce. How much do you know about them? If you’re scratching your head right now, it’s time to pay attention.
Context is a branded framework that is used to send out your message to the general public. Context sets the tone and establishes relevance for your audience. It can also include things like special typography, “voice,” language and idioms, graphical elements and style, as well as brand colors.
But, context also drives positioning – specifically, where your content will appear online and offline.
So, if your target market is investors, then that’s your context. It must appeal to investors, use their lingo, hit key buying “buttons” for them, and entice them to buy based on their unique set of needs and wants.
You would advertise in media like The Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily, also in online forums like The Motley Fool or other investment-based websites. You may use media placements to buy up space on websites with an investment-oriented theme.
A great example of this is Casey Research. Casey Research is an investment newsletter – very niche. They focus on mining, precious metals, foreign investments, and energy. A lot of their investment plays are high-risk, “fast and furious,” but they have a way with words that makes it sound like their way is the only way that really makes sense for investors.
Of course it helps that its namesake, Doug Casey, is a multimillionaire who has proven himself in the investment world for more than 30 years.
Channel is the actual media you use or the format your marketing message takes. For example, if you use print media, this would be a channel. Print media has come a long way since the pre-Internet age.
Most print media these days tries to integrate the message and marketing CTA (call to action) with some type of online media, like a QR code that links to a website, for example.
Images are also used to enhance the message, add “life” to the text, and attract readers with a relevant story (you’ve probably heard the phrase “a picture is worth 1,000 words).
Because of this, many marketers are turning to companies like StinkyInk to help them cut down on the costs of their ink without sacrificing the quality of the printed material.
With online channels, marketers are using low-volume keywords, and ramping up the volume with large groups of those keywords to make up the difference on PPC networks.
They’re also turning away from traditional sources, like Google’s PPC. Media buys are also changing the way that companies advertise online, allowing companies to pay for direct placement on a targeted website.
For example, the startup media company, Outbrain, uses contextual-like ads (as sponsored ads) to help improve the value proposition of publishers, while simultaneously giving content producers an outlet for their content that they otherwise wouldn’t get. Publishers have the traffic, but sometimes they don’t have clear monetization goals.
News websites would be an example of an industry that is losing its subscriber base with no real replacement for revenue. Companies like Outbrain save them while also allowing startups to profit from the inherent traffic flow to these sites.
The community refers to the target market or audience you’re trying to reach with your message. This is pretty obvious – if you’re selling golf equipment, the community is golfers. If you’re selling an investment newsletter, your market is investors. If you sell paperclips and pens, you’re probably marketing to businesses that need office supplies.
Marketing companies, like Firepole Marketing, are masters at community development. They have one of the tightest-knit communities on the web. And, it’s readily apparent when you sign up to their email newsletter service. They speak their community’s language. They even invent some new language – all in an attempt to connect with their target audience.
Commerce refers to the strong call to action needed to earn the sale. This isn’t just about information though. It’s about an artful blend of content, customer service, sales flow and process, call to action, and user experience.
Combined, the commercial experience should feel natural – customers should feel like they are in control and making the decision.
It should feel more like consultative selling than browbeating. Information drives many purchases on the web today since consumers are more educated thanks to the massive distribution of information.
Design your marketing channels and buying process to align with this buyer psychology, and you’ll have a winner.
A great example of a company that does this well is Apple. Google is another company, and Amazon is yet another. When you shop with these companies, or use their services, you understand immediately the value you’re getting. You also know that you’re part of a special community, and you’re well taken care of.
It’s like the company “gets you” as an individual. That’s how you want your customers to feel.
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