sly : marketing

Content is the Queen, Context is King

I’m currently at a conference in Copenhagen. I’m watching the speakers talk about new media and the public sphere, they’re all brilliant, but they haven’t been able to make me smile.

conference copenhagen

I’m thinking about my kitchenΒ and that it will be ready in just a few more days. And that I could have been writing about my kitchen for weeks, because there are so many interesting details that I’d love to share with you related to business and marketing – just from buying a new kitchen.

Right now, I am listening to a Professor from the University of Illinois, she’s speaking about affective news and networked publics. I’m a marketing guy, listening to people from the academia presenting their research, and it’s similar to the story of how a wheelbarrow made me feel like the greatest dad in the world. It feels like I’m standing outside looking at the professor pushing the wheelbarrow with all the other participants in the wheelbarrow.

What they’re presenting is very interesting. The content is “world-class”, but still, it’s academia. I attended a completely different conference two days ago. That other conference was mostly for businesses, and the audience and the keynote speakers was from completely different worlds than what I’m listening to right now.


But, the content on both conferences are fantastic.

Why context is the King

We need amazing content, we really do, but what’s even more important is the right context. We need to consider two types of context.

Verbal context

We need to focus on how we communicate by using the right text and the right way to talk. When I’m listening to the professors from the various Universities from across the world, I’m not feeling that they’re talking to me. The language they are using is very complex, and the words they are using is different from most words I’m using.

Social context

We need to focus on social variables; like class, gender or race, when we present our content. But even more important is social identity. If we don’t identify with the source of the content, we won’t be as focused as we should be.

And, even though the conference I’m now attending should be far more interesting, and they have world-class speakers, and hence, better content, it’s not a better conference, and it’s all because, to me, context is the king.

39 responses to “Content is the Queen, Context is King”

  1. Spot on Jens. Unless there’s context around the content, even the most valuable content can be irrelevant. But like a dance, it’s a two-way street. Cheers! Kaarina

  2. Eddie Gear says:

    Jens I’ve been thinking about this a lot for the last couple of weeks and I would love to hear your opinion as well. Mostly only businesses use blogs to market today, they dont look at context at all. All they look at is getting the information the customer is looking for so they can get more people to buy their products. Its more like a bait.

    However, with web publishers and web masters, they are more like sales guys who are trying to make money by selling with their blogs more than marketing.

    More and more blogs are becoming sales platforms and not marketing platforms. I know this comment might be a bit confusing for your readers, But I’m sure that you get my point in terms of content marketing and sales.

    PS> love your work as always, for a webmaster and a blogger this is relevant and of course without perspective there will be no value to content.

    • This is exactly what I’ve been talking with my clients about. Close to every single of my clients are blogging, and many of them are thinking that the reason they are blogging is to sell more. As you’re saying, it’s more about selling than it’s about marketing. What I’m telling them is to make their blogs into answers that people are looking for. Think about what your customers are asking, and start answering the questions. Become and expert and give people all the answers.

      If people see you as an expert, they’ll come to you again and again. And a blog has many purposes, for instance, it should be used to create relationships (connect with your customers) and it should be used to provide valuable content (answers to questions).

      Add quality content, and add a “call to action” in order to get people who are seeing you as an expert to connect with you.

      I’m not sure if I answered your question, what’s your opinion? πŸ™‚

  3. Mark says:

    I read somewhere that writing at the sixth grade reading level is most effective on the web… (wish I could reference it).

    By keeping things simple, I think you’ll actually appeal and connect with a much broader audience, both in person and online.

    Good to ‘hear’ some of you thoughts today, Jens.

    It’s always an interesting journey : )

    • Carolyn says:

      Hi Jens, I agree with you and Mark. People need to explain things simply. If they can’t, then they don’t understand what they’re explaining.

      I’m sure your mind was drifting to other topics. You have a lot on your mind and the speakers should have distracted you from your thoughts. It’s like watching a movie. If your mind drifts when you’re watching a movie, then the movie isn’t very good.

      • I’m like you Carolyn, and I’m thinking that if my mind is drifting away, they’re not doing their job. It’s the same with movies, I won’t keep watching a “bad” movie, and that’s the same with a bad presentation, I’ll walk away or just do something else.

    • That’s interesting Mark. I believe too many people are trying hard to sound as intellectual as possible, instead of making it as easy as possible to understand. I’m all for communicating by having the goal to do it as “as easy as possible” – that works for me πŸ™‚

  4. Adrienne says:

    Hey Jens,

    I agree with Mark too because I learn things in more simple and easy to understand terms. I don’t consider myself a dummy by any means but a lot of people talk over our heads thinking we understand everything about what they’re presenting. Not that they have to start from square one but talk to me like I’m a person, don’t try to sell me on your latest and greatest newest invention.

    I can’t stand to listen to people who put me to sleep, Entertain me while you teach and you’ve got my attention the entire day.

    Hope you get good info from the conference.


    • That’s exactly what I believe. To me, every single person should think like a marketer and “sell” what they’re presentations and use words that are easy to understand, no matter what the topic is, and no matter who their audience is. It’s also very important to talk directly to the audience, and do your best to connect with them.

  5. Josh says:

    The other commenters said what I wanted to say so I will say that I enjoyed this. People sometimes forget who their audience is and what they are trying to impart. It creates issues.

  6. Maja says:

    Context is the foundation and without context it is impossible to maintain the quality of contents,

  7. Joseph Hipolito says:

    Hi Sir jens this sounds looks great.. I will share this to my friends so they will see it too…

  8. Tim Bonner says:

    Hey Jens

    I completely agree with everything you say here. Keeping things simple, without jargon makes your writing so much more accessible to everyone.

    Although as you rightly point out context is also hugely important. If you’re a brain surgeon and you want to read about brain surgery, the written words are more likely to be confusing to anyone who doesn’t belong in that field!

    • That’s true, and that’s probably also why it’s hard to understand certain groups of people when they are communicating. I’m thinking that a brain surgeon should make it as easy to understand as possible even for other brain surgeons. At some point I believe that it has become a trend to make things complex in order to stand out as a group or make yourself more intellectual. It might be just me, but listening to some of the people at this conference, I’m thinking about what their main goal is with the presentation πŸ™‚

  9. Rogier Noort says:

    Great post and a great comment threat.
    I just read an article from Eric Deckers about blogging advice we need to stop giving. “Writing great content” is one of them (
    We all know we have to write great content.., duh!
    Indeed the context, making it understandable and thus valuable is an excellent piece of advice.

  10. Whether I was speaking in a speech class, a Toastmasters event, or at a conference, I always tried to make sure there was an interesting story in my presentation. My stories tend to be on the humorous side and this helped me draw an audience in to my subject. That was my goal, so the content of the story wasn’t as important as the smiles it generated. Often, the story was only loosely connected to my subject, but it didn’t matter, as the tale brought the audience in.

    I have no idea if it made the subject matter more palatable or if it enhanced the value to the listener, but it certainly made the audience look less bored, so from where I was standing, that was a win.

  11. Garen says:

    Great title to your post. Maybe content is the messager. Ever read a post where it was obvious the blogger could care less what people said. Kind of weird why would you start a blog if you don’t care about your readers…lol.

  12. Hi Jens
    When one knows the field to whom they are relating to will have certain trade jargon that would be completely foreign to others. As referenced a brain surgeon and I used to work in the shipping industry, I have terms that someone in the field would not understand. Example also I received a letter of my hearing from an Appeals board, of course written by a judge. Had to read the darn thing over 4 times before I figured what he was trying to say.
    It is definitely all about your audience and what you are trying to relate to them, if they don’t get it, they will be turned off.
    Good luck on your conference.

    • During the first presentations at the conference, I was thinking that I was lost and that I probably didn’t fit in. But, now I’m not so sure what happened, if it was me or them? I always try to make things as simple and easy to understand as possible, but listening to the people at the conference tells me that it’s not trendy to make things easy when it comes to the Academia πŸ™‚

  13. Aasma says:

    Hey Jens,

    You’re certainly right, It’s the context with content which makes the difference and helps you to reach out wider audience. If nobody understanding what you’re talking then how could you expect appreciation for your content.

  14. Richa says:

    For every content there needs to be a good context.. You have presented it very aptly. Thanks for this wonderful insight.

  15. Elaine Salt says:

    Verbal and Social Context is necessary in marketing in getting more people. It is important that you get into their language or context so that people will get the specific discourse you are pertaining to.

  16. Fatima says:

    Content and context most definitely go hand-in-hand so as to make complete sense out of anything. Great share.

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