The next wave – Web 3.0 – will organize itself around two different elements: context and the user.

By “context,” I mean the intent that brings you to the Web, your reason for surfing. Looking for a job is “context,” as is planning a trip or shopping for clothes.

Fundamental to context is the user. And when you fuse a specific user with genuine context, you wind up with truly personalized service.
Sramana Mitra

Good business has always required complete context, a matrix that explains why a customer needs a product while the idea to purchase is still forming in her head.

Your business is no different, it doesn’t exist in a bubble. Whatever you’re selling has a context – information, market, events, and attitude that gives your product shape and function.

If you sell stationery, the context is correspondence, the need of the consumer to send a greeting, the protocol & formality of mailing. There’s the recipient and the occasion to consider. There’s an underlying meaning in the stationery of choice, as well. The stationer must consider and communicate this context carefully.

If you’re a consultant, the context is the business environment and the attitude of the market. The context is the experience you bring to the table and your unique perspective on the needs of the client. There is context in the goals your clients hope to achieve and the fear of failure if they don’t achieve them. Again, this context must be carefully considered & communicated.

Have you considered how context can influence a potential customer when they come into contact with your business?

creating & communicating context – related needs

Your website is the easiest way to relate context to your potential customers. Here is where you can let people know they’re in the right place. You teach them how your product interacts with their daily lives. You answer questions they didn’t know they had. You fulfill related needs.

Yes, fulfilling related needs might be the biggest piece of context you can provide. It doesn’t have to be expensive, energy-intensive, or time consuming, just fulfilling a small related need will make the customer understand the context of your unique product. The two faces of my business (this site & Scoutie Girl) are all about context. On this site, I don’t just help you run a web-based business, I help you think more critically about yourself as a business owner. I help you see needs you didn’t even know you had and then I fulfill them. Or at least I hope so. That’s what they tell me.

On Scoutie Girl, the context is how to make this new arts & crafts movement work. There’s more than just buying & selling stuff, of course. But how does that work? Who does it work for? What does it mean to sell art & buy art & consume mindfully & live creatively? People have always done these things. But there’s context – and I suss that out. You can’t create art all day – or look at art all day – without considering where it comes from, so I fulfill that related need as well.

painting the big picture

Your website – and the context it provides – allows you to paint the big picture with fine strokes & gracious details. Understanding that your website is not all about you & your business but your customer & their needs will allow you to create something that is more than a digital business card. Showing your potential customers that you understand who they are, what their needs are, and answering the questions they didn’t know they had show that you’re more than just a product to be consumed. You are a part of their lives.

That’s how you seal the deal.

That’s how you provide context for purchasing decisions, large & small alike.

Your social media outposts allow you to create even more context. How do you work in your business? How are you helping people RIGHT NOW? What do you think of the latest trends? What related needs can you address in 140 characters or less?

Your business message is about more than broadcasting your “buy me now” bulletins. It’s about creating a context for potential clients & customers to learn about, interact with, and truly discover your product.

How are you using your online presence to create the context for your business?