For most of the past several weeks (and beyond), I’ve been hearing an unearthly amount of noise in the form of social media, blog posts, newsletters, articles and more. (It’s probably a lot quieter on the Pinterest and Instagram side since they’re just visuals, but I’ve been too busy to take a look.) It’s just been chock-a-full with endless information streaming out, like the dam’s already broken.
Even this past week, Gary Vaynerchuk came out with an announcement that he was actually going to increase his content output. Good grief! (Of course, he now has the moolah to hire a full-time staffer to shadow him and write down the myriad gems that drop out of his Jersey mouth in rapid-fire succession.)
Most of us don’t have the time, money or inclination to inundate our customers, fans and patient friends and family with content out the ying-yang. (And if we want to keep them, surely they’d prefer that we not give them the blitz treatment, burying them in content they may or may not want or need?!)
Cutting Through the Noise
With the sheer volume of ‘content’ (a pretty crappy vocabulary term for ‘pile-of-sh*t-information’, no?) landing in your inbox or newsfeed every day, how do you cut through it to something of value?
First, I’m going to go out on a limb here and recommend advice completely contrary to Gary Vee’s:
Unless you are God, and every word coming out of your mouth is gold, do not inundate your peeps with ‘content.’ Follow your gut instinct and only ship (a Seth Godin term, for those not familiar with current marketing lingo) when you’ve something worthy to share.
Don’t send just because it’s on your schedule.
Don’t send just because all the social media and SEO experts say you have to post to your blog at least three times a week.*
(*A blog is an exception to the rule. Unless your fans signed up for everything in your blog to be delivered to them via RSS, they have to physically go to your blog to see your content.)
Don’t send if all you’ve got is a re-hash of someone else’s work.
Send when you truly believe you have something original to say.
It may be about your product or company. It may be about something you’ve seen or read. But just like ‘they’ made us do it with our term papers in school: it’s supposed to be original thinking. The rest is just noise.
What’s Original Thinking?
This is where we all get tripped up. We think ‘original thinking’ has to be invention of the wheel, sliced bread, Marconi’s telegraph, invention of the telephone or electricity.
What a great way to leave our fingers paralyzed over the keyboard, right? (The deer-in-headlights equivalent)
None of the guys who came up with those inventions blogged.
They did, however, spend years relentlessly selling their investors and the public on their inventions. None had it easy. So your panic level should go down a bit here. Breathe.
Some of you know I’m rather fond of Stephen Sondheim’s work. And I think some of his most prescient verbiage on this topic occurred in Sunday in the Park with George.
So when you’re trying to determine how original your own thinking is, consider Dot’s advice to George in “Move On”:
Dot: “You have many things.”
George: “Well, nothing that’s not been said.”
Dot: “Said by you, though, George…”
That’s it in a nutshell. You never know if what you have to say is completely fresh and original to the reader. But you don’t get to make that decision. Dot deftly continues later in the song:
Let others make that decision-
They usually do.
You keep moving on.”
Interruptus Gaineth Attention-us
Marketing rule #1: You’ve got to interrupt your target audience to get their attention. (I know, a lot of marketers say, “No! Don’t interrupt!” But I disagree. Sometimes Interruption Marketing is the first step to getting a prospect to buy in on the next step: Permission Marketing.)
Whether or not they’re reading a paper, magazine, watching TV, driving while listening to the radio, or watching a newsfeed scroll by at top speed, you’ll only gain their attention with something truly unique. Once you have the attention, then it’s your job to get the prospect to buy in on Permission Marketing.
After weeks of being buried in ‘content,’ this Nissan Altima ad stopped me in my tracks:
What did you think?
Go ahead and watch. I’ll still be here when you finish. It’s worth it and not very long since it’s just a 30-second commercial.
Here’s my take on it:
- When’s the last time you saw a pair of interpretive dancers represent the car itself in a commercial? Answer: Never! How clever is that? Made ya look, huh?
- When’s the last time you saw people standing/dancing on the side of a freeway in a traffic lane? Answer: Never! Cary Grant running down the road away from a bi-plane in “North By Northwest” doesn’t count. And even that was memorable because it was so unusual.
- When’s the last time you saw a car commercial where they didn’t actually show the car until the last three seconds of the ad? Answer: Never!
Think Outside the Noise
With any luck you read that subhead twice because you expected it to end with “box.” I interrupted your attention. With any luck, I made you look at it twice because I ended the expected phrase with my theme. What can you do in your own business to get your audience to stop in their tracks and make them look twice?
- Present original material.
- Juxtapose visual ideas and words that you’d never expect to see together.
- Create anticipation and excitement about your offering. Save it until last to make a big impression.
It’s a tall order.
But you’re delivery high quality, right? So this fits into that paradigm exactly.
How many other car commercials do you remember? Aren’t most of them just noise?
Thought so. It’s rare they stand out.