Context: The Secret to Getting Your Audience’s Attention

You’ve heard it before: Know your audience. Here at Iris Creative, we repeat it so often, it’s become our mantra.

There’s one aspect of your audience you should never forget to take into consideration when you’re crafting a communication. A factor that’s absolutely crucial, but easy to overlook.


Because people behave differently in different situations.

Every year for the High Holidays, our client Beth El Synagogue Center in New York, leaves a brochure on every chair for attendees at the services. The piece is filled with advertisements about the synagogue’s variety of offerings, hoping to interest members who infrequently to get involved in other ways.

By a lot of modern recommendations, this approach sounds like a good one: Short, easy-to-digest copy. After all, people don’t read anymore, right?

The answer to that depends on the context.

And in this case, Beth El’s audience is sitting in place for two or more hours during the service… and is likely to be receptive to a little distraction. It’s the perfect opportunity to tap the emotional connection and allure of stories—particularly through first-person accounts.

So when Beth El asked for our help with their High Holiday leave-behind this year, we decided to take a new approach. We swapped that sheet of ads for this series of interviews featuring fellow members of the congregation—all describing how they’ve gotten more involved and what it’s meant to them.

Because you’re much more likely to get the attention of the mom with the preschool-age child through another mom’s story of how much her daughter loves the preschool program… Or show single members that the synagogue’s not just for families through the eyes of someone else who felt that way.

Finding ways to move existing members to deeper engagement is a challenge for many organizations. But it can be even harder if you don’t capitalize on your audience’s context by using the most powerful tool for the situation.

Stories and first-person experiences from people already taking the actions you want can be powerful. Holiday services aren’t the only context in which your audience might be open to a longer read. Think gala ad books, handouts before class starts, a video intro while people are waiting for their film or webinar to begin. The possibilities are endless when you think outside the short-format email.

For help moving your members to the next level of engagement with captivating creative and smart strategy, give us a call at 267-468-7949 or drop us a line at

Check out our entire High Holidays design package we did for  Beth-El Here

At Iris, we support communications that attract the right people — the ones who get involved and help you thrive. Through strategy, design and training we help clients build lasting connections that focus your vision on the perfect people.

Our Nonprofit Toolkit classes help nonprofits learn to market like a pro. Watch your email for the next class. Until then, to tune into our podcast to discover what’s working to move engagement into action at other organizations.