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  May 3, 2013
Rising Above the Noise..

 


I was in the grocery store the other day when I witnessed an exchange between a young boy and his mother.

While cruising down the breakfast aisle... the boy suddenly stopped mid-aisle and shrieked... "I want Lucky Charms!!"

The mother yelled back at the little boy, "No... we have plenty of cereal at home!!"

At that point the young toddler threw himself on the ground and began wailing out... "BUT MOMMY... I WANT LUCKY CHARMS!!".

His mother, not wanting to be outdone by her 2-year old, began shouting, quite loudly, at the little crying boy... screaming things like...

... I said NO!!

... if you don’t get off this floor right now I’m going to give you a beating like you’ll never forget...

... That’s it MISTER... we’re leaving right now...

Her shouting only caused the little boy to start screaming even louder...

"I WANT LUCKY CHARMS!!!"...

At first I felt a lot of empathy for the woman... I do understand that 2-year olds indeed can be exceedingly difficult... but then I started to think about my own kids when they were toddlers...

I never remember getting into screaming matches with my children... whether or not we were at home or out at a store or a restaurant... I never remember once playing out this scene with my own kids...

Now my children aren’t necessarily perfect angels... they are, in fact, just regular kids...

The difference, I thought, isn’t in the kids... the difference is in the adults.

Getting into a shouting match with a 2-year old is playing down to their level.

Instead of trying to get the 2-year old to act like an adult... the mother decided instead to act like a 2-year old and scream back at the child.

Instead of yelling, perhaps the mother should have bent down... almost kissing his ear... and whispered to the little boy...

"If you don’t stop this behavior right now... there will be severe consequences when we leave... do I make myself clear?"...

I would almost guarantee you that the little boy would have stopped his bawling for a moment... if nothing else... just to try and understand what was happening.

He may have said in a quiet, pleading, yet whiny voice... "but mommy I want us to buy some Lucky Charms... can we pleeeeeze?... "

Now I’m not sure what the mother would have said to the child at that point... but I might have said something to the tune of (in a very quiet whisper-like voice), "I just bought some yesterday... so we don’t need to buy any more today... I’ll show them to you at the house when we go home"...

And the child responds, "I don’t remember seeing them".

"It’s because they are in the upper cabinet", she counters... "but I’ll show them to you when we get home"...

Notice now that the parent and the child are now having a quiet adult conversation (or negotiation) rather than simply a shouting match where no one is listening.

You might be asking at this point... what does this mother and child exchange have to do with me and my life?

The answer is simply... if you really want someone to listen to you... or more importantly your message... perhaps it’s best to simply talk and try to hold a conversation... rather than shouting at the top of your lungs...

Shouting is typically met with only more shouting or worse... indifference...

In order for a real conversation to occur, perhaps we need to lower our volume, speak clearly, and really listen.

A conversation occurs when two or more people freely exchange information, ideas and thoughts.

When we speak softly, it causes others to listen more intently to what we are saying.

Try this experiment... the next time you’re sitting across the table from someone (say perhaps at lunch or dinner)... lower your voice to a whisper and lean in across the table...

Without thinking, the person sitting across the table from you will lean in towards you to listen to what you have to say...

It’s not amplitude that makes people listen to you...

Maybe it’s the frequency... say it often enough... and people will begin to listen...

The problem with that is that when people hear the same message repeatedly... they will become bored with you and your stale message... and they stop listening...

So if it’s not amplitude... and it’s not frequency... then why do so many marketing people use these very same methods in attempting to market their goods and services to us?

Supposedly loud gets us noticed... and to a certain extent this is true... (I definitely noticed the mom and her little boy in the grocery store)...

Giant billboards in Times Square... funny and quirky Super Bowls spots... full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal might all get you noticed...

They are synonymous with loud... and loud is bedrock of traditional advertising...

Their motto... "Big is Better"...

... but is it really?

Traditional marketers will also talk about the "frequency" of the message.

Say it often enough and people will remember you and/or your product or service.

Again, there is some validity to this argument... large consumer companies spend billions of dollars each year to help re-enforce their brand message over and over again...

Yes... we know that Wal-Mart has low prices...

Yes... we know that Geico can save you money in 15 minutes...

Yes... we know that Papa John’s Pizza uses better ingredients...

Why?... mostly because they tell us this... over and over and over again... but I don’t know for sure... I don’t spend any money with Wal-Mart, Geico or Papa Johns.

If their goal is to create brand awareness... then their media purchases worked...

If their goal, on the other hand, is to get someone to buy something from them... then they failed (at least with me)...

I think about some products that I do actually use... and how much advertising they actually do...

Currently, I am typing this Blog using a Fujitsu notebook computer... using Microsoft Word... with the help of Wikipedia and Google... finally uploading it to the Constant Contact emailing service.

I don’t recall seeing a single ad for any of these services... it’s not to say that they don’t advertise... I just can’t remember seeing any ads for these particular products...

So how did I come to use these products from these companies?

Mostly I learned about them from conversations I had with other people. People I know and trust.

People who never shouted at me... they never badgered me to use the product and/or service...

They simply said I use them... so you should try them... see if you like them... if so... tell someone else...

Traditional marketing (amplitude and frequency) is dying...

These methods are simply becoming noise... and consumers are quickly finding ways to filter the noise in their lives.

Some companies understand this and have learned to thrive in the new media.

A good start for a company is to actually have a fantastic product or service that solves a problem for people...

They realize that the key to discovering problems is by having open and honest conversations...

Not talking to people... but rather conversing with people...

It’s an important distinction...

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse, where we hope to one day engage you in a meaningful conversation.

 

Jim Kalb
President

Email - jimk@optifuse.com
Website - www.optifuse.com

Blog - www.optifuse.blogspot.com

Twitter - @OptiFuse


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