How to get chosen in a busy, distracted world

It goes without saying we live in a busy, distracted world. Not only are most of us time poor, but at one point, we have felt yelled at by advertising. “Buy now”, “Limited time offer”, “while stocks last”. Such are the catch-cries of a media age. When asked about how effective this style is, many will tell you how ineffective and non-engaging it is. Users are likely to not recall the ad, and if they did, may express a dislike of being told, rather than invited.

Yet business owners are still bemused by the perceived lack of media effectiveness.

What could be going on here?

Could shouting product benefits to an unexpecting audience be futile? Could the care factor have been missed (after all, as a user, why would I give you my attention without knowing why?). Maybe it’s cos as a listener/ reader/ viewer/ scroller, I’m just not that into you.

What has the business done to endear themselves to me? Call me a romantic, but the business didn’t invest in courting me. There was no reason, beyond product based appeals, to choose them (ahead of their competition).

Seth Godin captured this when he noted the only reason people care about price is they haven’t been given anything else to care about. ‘Product only’ approaches are a symptom of the rational mind – where an integral assumption is people make purely rational decisions. It’s simply not true. Hear me out: say I’m in the market for a shirt. Nothing fancy, just something to wear with jeans. Before I reach a store, or favourite online shop,  I’ve decided on my budget: $70. How then, did I leave having spent $120? After all, I’ve got other pressures on my money - $70 is all I can afford at the moment. An answer? I found a shirt I liked. Sure, I walked in with an ‘intention’, but I walked out having ‘felt’ something. That something could be the combined in-store/online experience where I discovered a range of product that aligned with my sense of how I want to be perceived (i.e. things I like).

What could be going on here?

Someone realised the sum total of the experience they deliver their customer can be considered ‘Brand’. Someone realised there is a reality beyond the rational mind, and much to the consternation of brainiacs the world over, humans are not rational only (never were, never will be, the brain has not evolved with that purpose in mind). And someone has realised the first step in the road to a sale is to make people feel comfortable, where, whatever that thing is, it’s the reason to choose you (ahead of all those nasty competitors).

Yes, your product or service is amazing. I’m sure it’s even world class. It may even be better than your competitors, where ‘better’ might (somehow) be cheaper. But yelling customers down with rational only appeals does the very thing you probably don’t want. It arms people with enough information to competitively shop you. It also doesn’t address the fundamental purpose of a Brand: Brand is a vehicle to make decisions easy for people by arming them with why to choose you. It’s not rational, it’s probably not in your product, and it probably isn’t a list of features and benefits. The reason will be in the mind of your customer, and non-customer. The challenge is uncovering it and using it to your competitive advantage.

Guest post by Simon Hart - Head of Strategy at The Jam Jar