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  • A Cup of Coffee to Context

    A few years ago, The Washington Post was looking for an answer to the following questions: “In a common place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?” and “If not in the right context, do we recognize talent?”

    To find the answer, they put something “beautiful” in a common environment, at an inappropriate hour – totally out of context – and proceeded to conduct a social experiment.

    The Beauty: Joshua Bell, regarded as one of the greatest violinists – one of the greatest musicians – in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written on an 18th century violin that was hand-crafted by Stradivari and is worth $3.5 million. Two days before the experiment Bell sold out a theater in Boston. Those seats were worth $100 each. To help paint the picture further, Interview magazine explained his violin playing as something that “does nothing less than tell human beings why they bother to live.”

    The Place: Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning.

    The Hour: Morning rush hour, with nearly two thousand people heading to work.

    It has been said that if an art curator took an expensive painting off the wall and stood it up outside against the building, that people would not appreciate it the same way. And Joshua Bell was just like that painting.

    He played six classical pieces for 43 minutes. 1,097 people passed by. Only 6 stopped to listen – to appreciate the beauty of the moment – less than 2%. Bell’s hat was filled with a total of thirty-two dollars and change.

    Context matters.

    It matters in your brand. It matters in your perceived value. It matters in your bottom line.

    And this is why it is so critical to create the most relevant message for the most specific segment of your audience, and to deliver it in the most context-appropriate manner.

    The more you hone your specialty, the smaller your niche will get. The smaller your niche gets, the easier it is to deliver precise, relevant content. And all of that leads to your value being recognized and appreciated. I once read, “The clearer your focus, the greater your impact.” I put that quote on a note in front of my computer to remind me not to go off track.

    Find the right context to display your talent and you will earn more money doing what you’re great at – and that, my friend, is beauty.

    Wendy Brache builds and executes personal branding and online marketing strategy for executives and corporations in the high-tech sector. She is the author of Sales Force Branding: Differentiate from the Competition, and co-creator of the Sales Force Branding program. Wendy is a senior consultant specializing in B2B Corporate Social Media, Demand Generation and Marketing Automation, and is also a featured marketing technology speaker and columnist on renowned websites, such as Maria Shriver’s Women’s Conference, Chopra’s Intent.com and Denver’s GreatIdeasForKids.com.

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