Achieve more effective marketing by going back in time

You work hard to create effective marketing that gets potential buyers excited about buying from you. But if you had a time machine, you could make your marketing even more effective.

Here’s how:

When a potential buyer shows up in a store or an office or a website, the business treats them as a blank slate — someone who is there to buy because they don’t yet have the product or service.

But what is often forgotten is that the person who just entered the business isn’t a blank slate. They have a history, a story, an entire past trailing behind them in time.

So when you greet them positively and enthusiastically, you’re shocked and saddened and embarrassed that they just had a family member pass away. That happened to me. :(

Of course, that’s an extreme example but it illustrates an important point: If you have a time machine you could go back in time by just a few minutes and find out what your potential customer was doing and thinking and feeling moments before they stepped foot in your business (or clicked onto your website).

The benefit is, you build instant rapport and you can create marketing messages that are far more effective because they speak into the context and mindset that your potential customer is in at that very time.

Businesses can already do this to some degree:

  • They can time their commercials to air on TV or radio at a certain time — thus reaching frustrated commuters during rush hour or kids during Saturday morning cartoons or hungry employees moments before lunch.
  • They can create context-specific landing pages that welcome people specifically based on how they got to the website. (Done in two ways: One way is to use just create a static page that you might give out on Twitter and Facebook as the social media landing page; or I’ve also seen apps that can read where a user clicked from and welcome them with a “Thanks for visiting from Google” type of greeting). As technology develops, we should see more of this happening.
  • They can create keyword-specific Google AdWords landing pages based on the searched phrases that the user typed to find the ad that they clicked through.
  • They can tightly integrate their sales funnel so that article marketing or guest blog posts use an “example.com/specific-page” click-through link to greet people who just read the specific topic.

Those are a few examples of ways that businesses can market more effectively by considering where the client was just before they encountered the marketing.

Here’s why this kind of “context-sensitive marketing” is so important. Consider two radio spots for a take-out restaurant. They both serve hot, fresh, nutritious ready-to-eat meals that busy parents can feel good about serving to their families.

  • One ad airs randomly in the afternoon and lists the typical benefits that someone might get if they bought from the restaurant.
  • The other ad is almost identical, except for two key differences: First, the ad airs during afternoon rush hour. Second, the ad starts off with something along the lines of: “Rush hour is annoying and time-consuming… and you still have to make supper when you get home! We can help…

See how the context-sensitive differences have the potential to make the marketing more effective? It might work even more effective if there is also a time-specific bonus offer made at the same time — such as a 4-for-the-price-of-3 meals between the hours of 4pm and 6pm.

Because of the customer’s context, they are more likely motivated to buy if they hear the ad during rush hour when they’re hungry and stressed and thinking about supper than during some random afternoon airplay.

It’s not always possible to build your marketing around your target market’s context this but it is possible with a lot of marketing… and you should at least try to consider the target market’s context before they encountered your marketing. And, if you don’t know for sure, you can guess and you can generalize: That’s why we see some commercials that start off with something like “You’re a busy mom”. They’re not only building rapport, they’re also placing a safe bet that the mom viewers were busy with their kids moments before the commercial. This same idea can work in your articles, blog posts, and direct mail. All you need to do is to clearly define and fully understand your target market.

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