Shortly after Allison Cenna gave birth to her daughter in 2014, USAA sent her a brochure to congratulate her and ask if she was considering an educational savings plan. She was grateful for the outreach, as she had indeed been considering it. The timeliness of this message exemplifies a change Allison has noticed in the marketing world — a shift from content marketing to context marketing.
While she considers both types of messaging important, Allison believes each offers a different value proposition. Where content marketing provides useful information to create a dialogue between a brand and its consumer, context marketing takes the interaction a step further and provides information that is tailored to specific events in a consumer’s life, such as purchasing a home, buying a car, or having a baby.
The embrace of consumer context is not the only change Allison has witnessed. America’s demographics have shifted, and marketers must adjust accordingly. “The world is different. Cookie-cutter solutions just don’t work anymore,” she says. There are more single-parent households, more same-sex households, and fewer nuclear families. To respond to these changes, we must be “more personalized, more customized, more empathetic.”
Because of this increased diversity and the abundance of data to which we we have access, the old method of reaching customers, which was like a “one-way conversation” with marketers doing all the talking, is out. The new method, which requires an equal exchange where brands provide value to the consumer, is in.
Take Allison’s work with BIC razors, for example. Research had shown the millennial women the brand was targeting shared a strong interest in music, so to encourage Facebook interaction and engagement, Bic partnered with various musicians like Fifth Harmony and showcased exclusive videos and backstage footage on the brand’s page.
Thus, the idea of what’s valuable to the customer is no longer limited to information about the product. As Allison says, engagement efforts must also involve “connecting with people at the passion point that matters to them.”
What IMC Means To Allison:
“[Studying IMC] gave me a great arsenal of tools to work within the real world. I think it taught me to be a little more curious, to be a little more anthropological, to be a little bit more statistical. I think that everything [in IMC] gives you very much a well-rounded perspective. So that way, you have the tools you need when you get into the workplace or get into the agency workplace. A lot of those things I learned I activate on a daily basis.”
Allison Cenna is a member of the Medill IMC Class Of 2011
Profile by Angela Suico, Medill IMC Class Of 2017