Cutting Through the Marketing Clutter

You must master the skill of using powerful promises in your marketing messages for one overriding reason: because they cut through the clutter of hundreds of other advertising messages that are begging for your prospect’s attention every single day. You see, people have learned to tune us out. They’ve created a shield of resistance against all sales messages, so you have to do something dramatic to wake them up. You have to break through to them before you can sell to them.

The only way to do this is to be as dramatic as possible.

There are so many marketing messages out there, and they’re all so similar. Everybody’s shouting. It’s as if you’ve walked into a room filled with a hundred people who all want to get your attention, and everybody’s calling your name simultaneously. Are you going to hear anyone’s voice in that room? Probably not; it’s going to be drowned out. Well, that’s exactly how it is in the marketplace, so you’ve got to be different to be heard. You have to be bold. You have to be dramatic. Call it hype if you want, but it’s got to cut through the clutter of all those other advertising messages out there.

Another big problem here is that, because of the hype that comes with an overcrowded marketplace, people have become skeptical. They don’t believe anything; they’ve heard it all, they’ve seen it all, and they’re just not listening anymore. This comes in different levels, by the way: some people are mildly skeptical, while others are totally hardcore cynical. They’re beyond skepticism. No matter what idea you put to them, they’re going to find ten things wrong with it.

You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t face up to that reality from the very beginning. You’ve got to realize that this is the person you’re trying to deal with. They’re not going to pay attention. You’re going to spend good money trying to reach them… just to have them ignore you. I’m not being negative here; I’m being to be realistic. I’m trying to tell you what you must expect. As long as you know that’s the way the game is played, then you can start mapping strategies out from Day One so you can combat all that. How do you cut through the clutter? How do you get people’s attention? What do you have to say or do to wake people up, to get them to pay attention to you and what you’re trying to sell instead of all those other things available out there?

And that’s another issue you must face. People only have so much disposable income, so your goal must be for them to spend it on you. There are a lot of businesses trying to compete for that cash… so you’ve got to be different just to wake people up. You have to be bold and audacious.

As a consumer, how do you choose who to listen to? There are all kinds of messages being presented to you. On the flip side, as a marketer, what do you have to do to get your message across? My marketing director and his wife have adopted four children, and now they teach an adoption class. They have this game they play, not only to introduce people to each other and new people in the class (it’s an icebreaker type of game), but also to get people to recognize that sometimes, it’s hard to figure out who to listen to.

What they do is blindfold somebody and hide an object in the room. The blindfolded individual knows that there’s one person in the room who is supposed to tell them where to go and direct them clearly… and everybody else is supposed to misdirect them. So you’ve got all these voices talking to the person who’s blindfolded, trying to tell them how to find the object (usually it’s a candy bar). Since everybody’s talking, the seeker doesn’t know who to listen to. One person’s telling them the truth; everybody else is telling them a lie… and they’ve got to try to figure out which is which. What this game teaches them is that there are a lot of voices out there talking about adoption, so they must be very selective about who they listen to. Who’s giving them the correct information, and who’s not?

Getting your marketing message through the clutter of other messages can be a similar process. These days our prospects are bombarded with all kinds of sales messages, and they have to try to figure out who to listen to and who not to. It all sounds good. You probably know, if you get business opportunity offers in the mail regularly, that a lot of them sound good — so how do you figure out what’s truly good and what’s not? Most people are just overwhelmed by everything they’re exposed to. They can’t do anything, they get vapor-locked, and the mail goes in the trash unopened because they can’t think through it all.

Therefore, as a marketer, you’ve got to find a way to get people to pay attention to you. Give them a reason to accept your sales message. If you’ve got an envelope you’re trying to get opened, give them a reason to open it instead of putting it in the trash. To do that, you need to use hype and powerful promises to cut through all that clutter. For example, you might use bright colors and a guarantee: double your money back if you’re not happy. A lot of stores do price matching, where they’ll sell you something for a lower price if you can prove that another store sells it for less. That’s not really that big of a deal… but if you say, “We’ll give you cash for the difference if we can’t give you the lowest price,” it becomes a bigger deal.

You can cut through the clutter with an outrageous headline, too, a guarantee of something that the prospect will experience when they do business with you. We use specifics with our headlines. Inside of saying, “You can make big money with our system,” we might say, “You can make $1,000 a day with our system.” It makes it sound more outrageous than just saying, “Our system will make you lots of money.” Using specific numbers that are a little unbelievable makes people want to find out what’s up. What’s the catch; what’s going on here?

Do something dramatic to wake them up, breaking through or sliding over the shield they’ve erected to block the clutter they’re experiencing.

They’ve got decisions to make. They’ve got to figure out how to prioritize what they’re going to spend their time and money on. As a marketer, you have to find a way to be the one who breaks through. Most people aren’t creative enough to get their sales messages through. So instead of emulating them, think like your customers; think about them receiving your sales letter in the mail, think about them visiting your website. Whatever your sales message is, however, you present it, think about your average customer and all the stuff they’ve got going on. Think about how easy it is for them to either drop your sales letter in the trash or surf to another website.

Think about those things from their standpoint, and then find ways to make them want to say, “I’ve got to stop and take a look at this.” If you’ll do that, your sales message will be read by more of your prospects, and you’ll turn a lot more of them into customers. And by the way: you can’t worry about upsetting people too much. Here’s an example: one of my books, a 600-page whopper, is titled “How to Make Millions Sitting on Your Ass!” It’s just a little controversial, that title. And when you read the introduction, you’ll see that it’s all about sitting on your butt and working on your business, not in it (as I’ve discussed in another article). I discuss marketing, advertising, copywriting, that type of thing — things that you do while you’re sitting behind a computer.

You can’t be afraid of going over the top just a little. Will some people be offended? Yes, of course. But don’t worry about them. Worry about the people who aren’t going to be offended. When people are in a buying mode, they’re in an emotional trance. Here’s the best example that I can give: my wife and I used to go shopping at the Plaza in Kansas City a lot, and there was a Saks Fifth Avenue store that she wanted to visit. So I followed along and had my book with me — I always had my book, and I’m the most patient person. I would sit in this store reading my book while she’d walk around shopping… but then, one day, I noticed that most of the women in the store were walking around in a daze.

I see this all the time. They were in a buying mode. When people are in a buying mode, an emotional element comes into play. And selling is an emotional thing; you want to pull people in. You want to do things to try to be different from everybody else, so you’ll get noticed.

Just realize the reality of this situation, and deal with it. It’s an overcrowded marketplace, where everybody shouts because they have to. Strive to make your shout just different enough to sneak under their shields.

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