Not too long ago, if you had something interesting to say or something exotic to show you had a pretty decent chance of actually getting through to most people. And I really mean “most people” as in the majority of your nation or culture. After all, people led fairly predictable lives full of repetetive tasks and a slow information flow. You might think I’m referring to agricultural villages in the early 1900’s, but no, I mean the 70’s when I grew up. At that time you could even catch the attention of a classroom full of 10-year-olds by telling them of far away places and historical times.
Those days are gone. Now, teachers are up against the Xbox. Or 48 tv-channels. Or the Internet. And they don’t stand a chance if they try running their old routines. This goes for all of us. Even if your target audience isn’t comprised of clan-members on WOW they are still likely to have high standards of reference when they decide what they’ll pay attention to. Do you really think your average print ad will do the trick? No, you’re right, it won’t. So what to do?
We all have to work with what’s unique and/or sought after. When it comes to education I’m convinced teaching could be much more effective if the classroom experience was had out of the classroom to a greater extent. Involving more grown-ups (parents, volonteers, etc), integrating subjects, and getting more hands-on experimenting will probably also be good things to try. All of those are things the Xbox can’t do.
For businesses this means NOT trying to do what the market leader is doing, especially if all the competition is copying the leader. This is not news to any marketers, and still, incredibly many marketers do just that. The fastest path to getting some attention is usually to earn it. Create something worth paying attention to. Write a book about the stuff you know and your clients don’t and give it away for free. They’ll still come to you for help, trust me, but this time they’ll listen. Don’t piggyback on bought celebreties. Instead find some that actually like what you do, and put the spotlight on it. If they come to you instead of the other way around you’ll also save yourself some of the embarressment of having sponsored the wrong spokesperson (someone up for sponsoring Tiger Woods? anyone?No? He still plays very well.)
So remember that the next time you try to get some attention in this day and age: We are all competing with the Xbox.