This might sound strange coming from a guy who has been preaching the importance of being BOLD and taking risks to creative teams, clients and brands for three decades. It’s always been important for brands to grab people’s attention—to stand out—by doing unorthodox things. Sometimes, the crazier the better. But today, we need a new plan.
Over the years, it’s gotten harder and harder to stand out as competition for consumers’ attention has increased dramatically. Once upon a time, there were typically only 3 to 4 major players in any product category. You spent your time making sure you zigged when they zagged. Creative teams at ad agencies would spend hours coming up with idea after idea that was bigger and bolder than the last. How do we stand out from everyone else? What can we do or say that will force people to pay attention to us versus the other guys?
That worked then. It’s not enough now. Here’s why.
The days of 3 or 4 competitors in a category are long gone. Now there are dozens. Sometimes hundreds. All of them pushing out marketing messages every day. Each of them trying to outdo the other. Tens of thousands of brands, all yelling at us at the same time. Each one assuming that if only they dial up the volume a little more—be a little bolder than the other guys—that they’ll be the ones to get noticed. Here’s the problem…consumers don’t want to be yelled at. They don’t want more messages. They don’t care how “bold” you are. They want you to be relevant. They want you to add value to their lives.
Too many brands today think that if they just do something bold to get noticed, they win. As if “just getting noticed” is the end game. But all too often, once people notice them, there’s nothing worthwhile that follows. A bold gimmick doesn’t equate to being a desirable brand. It’s not just about getting noticed, it’s about delivering something that’s relevant to their lives.
The question should now be, what can we offer our customers and prospects of value? What content can we push out that people will actually pay attention to, not simply because it’s bold, but because it’s worthwhile? How can we show people that we deserve a moment of their time, not because we’ve done something dramatic to make them stop and look, but because we stand for something they believe in that makes them stop and think?
Next time you’re crafting a marketing message of any kind, ask yourself these three questions:
- Is it relevant to our audience?
- Will people care?
- Can we follow up the initial message with a worthwhile experience?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then (and only then), spend some time figuring out a way to deliver that message in a BOLD way. Yes, being bold still matters. But it’s not the ONLY thing—it’s merely the FIRST thing in an endless pursuit to earn people’s consideration.