If your business is waiting to be noticed, you have a problem.
Probably the biggest thing business owners struggle with in getting effective marketing, is IMPACT.
Marketing – any marketing – to be effective, must have an impact.
Otherwise no one even notices you communicating. Like a shy child. “Oh Johnny, sorry, I didn’t see you there in the corner. Did you need something?” Johnny has been standing there waiting to be noticed for fifteen minutes.
The reason effective promoters like P.T. Barnum could get crowds of people to their shows is because they had IMPACT in their communications.
What’s the opposite of shy?
You knew someone is talking to you. Just that.
Love him or hate him, Donald Trump attracts people’s attention. BECAUSE of his high-impact communication. Many, many people find him offensive. But you can’t argue with his effectiveness in getting noticed and heard.
Other candidates in the Republican debates in 2015 and 2016 was speaking very politely and correctly. Trump was giving his opponents derogatory nicknames.
And it worked. Maybe it shouldn’t have, but that’s not my point.
Many people who make their living as marketers handle communication in a very timid fashion. Maybe they were shy as children.
If you are afraid to offend, you might as well just shut up. No matter what you say, someone is going to object to your communication.
It is a fundamental difference in attitude. The attitude of a real marketer is, how can I get these people to pay attention to me? Of course, “the right kind of attention.” But you have to think in terms of getting noticed at all.
This has very little to do with what you are trying to say. Impact is about getting noticed SO YOU CAN SAY SOMETHING AND GET HEARD.
There was a comedian who used to get laughs knocking on someone’s skull and saying things like “Hey numskull, you listening?” Sarcastically of course.
Now that is literally impact. You are trying to figuratively rap on the skulls of your audience. At LEAST tap them on their figurative shoulders. If they don’t look up and go “what!?” your impact was zero, wasn’t it?
And everything that came after that was a complete waste of time, energy, money, electrons, ink or paper.
This is a big deal because it is literally the FIRST THING YOU HAVE TO DO.
It’s not the first thing you have to know – which is who to try and attract the attention of. But it is the first thing you have to do.
As an experiment, look at or listen to a dozen ads or commercials. TV, radio, print, online, mail. Look and listen to a variety of them. Look at 10 or 20 and ask yourself about each one, did that have impact?
I bet the vast majority did not.
Business to Business marketing is almost uniformly awful. Like the 15 Republicans who lost out to Trump, people think they are supposed to be polite and business-like.
I’m not telling you to insult your audience, like Don Rickles.
Be professional, sure. Be relevant, absolutely.
But when it comes to impact, Go Big or Go Home.
SO WHAT MAKES IMPACT IMPACT?
You’ve got to be willing to be out there, a bit outlandish and GET NOTICED. But how do you do it?
One great way to answer the question is to continue the experiment above. What was it about the ads that had impact? What was it about the ones that didn’t? Look at a bunch more ads, find many more examples of ads that DO have impact.
First of all, you’ll get concrete examples of things you can use.
You’ll also start to see patterns emerge. What works and what doesn’t?
One thing for sure: Your marketing has to STAND OUT. Like trying to pick out one gray square (a slightly different shade of gray) from 100 others. It doesn’t stand out. But if all the others are gray and your square is pink – voila. Bingo. Attention!
You have to be different, and different ENOUGH. If it is too subtle it won’t work.
But being different doesn’t do the trick all by itself. That’s why the drill of looking at lots of ads is so important. Seriously, do it until the light bulb starts to light up.
And there’s one other point.
GOOD IMPACT, BAD IMPACT
I suppose it should be obvious: There is such a thing as bad impact.
Let’s just take this in the context of social discourse. You want to get the attention of a co-worker. Punching them in the face would get their attention, right?
A guy wants to talk to a girl. Telling her how ugly she is, and she has bad breath, if said loudly enough, will surely get her attention. Of course, he may be unhappy with the resulting attention.
You can do the same kind of thing in marketing. Completely inappropriate, jarring, nasty, weird, or head-scratching communications may get attention. They won’t get results.
Years ago, a movie “Snakes on a Plane” did a brilliant, but completely ineffective social media campaign. You could go to a website, enter a phone number, and get a call from Samuel L. Jackson, recorded of course. It went viral and got millions of people trying it out.
It’s effect on box office sales? Zero. It was just a cute gimmick that was completely disconnected from what they were trying to accomplish. Horror movie fans are a special audience, and this effort to expand that audience simply didn’t work.
So a little common sense goes a long way.