Normally, I like to talk about "content" because that's what requires the creativity, the action, but the reality is we cannot be effective in our sales and marketing efforts without understanding the "context" as well.
But what part of context can make the biggest difference? That's what this blog is about.
A fly on a hook does nothing unless it hits the right area of the creek at the perfect depth of water in just the right amount of sunlight, and usually at the right time of day.
A pair of eyeglasses is useless unless the prescription has been calibrated -- number one, number two; number one, number two -- to enhance the patient's vision.
A detailed email about your range or broiler will go unnoticed if the person who receives that email doesn't understand the basics of buying, or worse, isn't even in the industry.
The bottom line is context matters.
Listen to me talk about another interesting example of context in this short video. Or you can read the details further below.
In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell talks about an interesting experiment conducted by two Princeton University psychologists. In the experiment, they decided to test out the theories of the Good Samaritan as discussed in the Bible.
They went to the seminary school, where students were instructed to write a short discussion on a biblical topic. After they were done preparing, they were instructed to walk to a nearby building, where they would present their topic. Three variables were included in the experiment:
* Some students were asked to write about the Good Samaritan, while others were instructed to present on a different topic from the Bible.
* Students were asked why they joined the ministry. Was it because they wanted to help people or experience their own spiritual stimulation?
* Finally, some students were told they had plenty of time to make it to the other building to present, while others were told they were already late.
Now here's where it gets interesting.
The psychologists made sure every student who went from building A to building B would encounter a man writhing on the ground in pain, and then they set out to find who would actually stop to help the man. Who would actually stop to be a Good Samaritan, and why?
The results were fascinating.
While it might be common sense to say the people who entered the ministry to help people, as well as the ones who were presenting on the topic of the Good Samaritan, would be more likely to stop, that was not the case. Motivation for joining the ministry and the presentation topics showed no real statistical variation. In fact, as stated in the results, many seminary students literally stepped over the victim on the way to present.
What really mattered in the experiment, though, was time.
If students were told they were already late to the presentation, a mere 10 percent stopped to help the victim. When students were told they had time to spare, 63 percent stopped to help. What this tells us, and what Gladwell suggests, is that time is one of the biggest contextual factors that impact our behaviors.
In this case, the moral of the story wasn't about morals. It was about time.
"The words 'Oh, you're late' had the effect of making someone who was ordinarily compassionate into someone who was indifferent to suffering -- of turning someone, in that particular moment, into a different person," Gladwell says.
Marketing and Sales Success Also Depends on Timing
The lesson here is that our messages, our sales calls, our emails, all need to consider the time our audiences have to digest those messages, as well as the timing in which they're received.
If we look at the Buyer's Journey from the standpoint of Awareness > Consideration > Decision, we must understand a potential customer isn't going to compare Tylenol versus Nyquil unless he's sick. He's not going to look for medicine until he experiences the symptoms of being ill.
Likewise, we have to be mindful and respectful of the amount of time people have, which is almost always limited. Messages should be succinct and to-the-point. We should do our best to keep people entertained and take them on a journey to help our messages stick. And we sure as hell need to make sure what we have to say is relevant.
Let's all make a concerted effort to live by these rules, and we'll all be better marketers and salespeople. We'll even be better customers, I bet. And I don't think it's a stretch to say we'll even wind up being better people, better Samaritans, if you will, when we learn to respect everyone else's time.
That being said, I hope this was both entertaining and enlightening. Thanks for reading.
Would you like to talk about how to make your foodservice brand's messages stick? Book some time to talk with me. I'd love the chance to help bounce some ideas.
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