Audience & Engagement

Prospects ignoring you? Here's how to get them to listen
Prospects ignoring you? Here's how to get them to listen

Want to know why your business gets overlooked on social media? Why your Twitter account has fewer than 200 followers, your Facebook account only has 30 likes, and you can count your blog’s daily readership on one hand?

The reason is simple.

My dog, Ruby, is usually super-obedient. That is, except when something spooks her. When she’s scared, she enters fight or flight state. She becomes selectively deaf to my commands and goes into over-ride mode.

Whatever I say, she ignores me.

Likewise, most people are in constant “over-ride mode” when it comes to marketing messages. They’re cynical and switched off.

You’re spooking them.

That’s why your business gets overlooked. People have learned to ignore pretty much anything that looks, sounds or smells like it has something to sell.

You’re looking, sounding and smelling selly.

Thirty year’s ago, the average American city dweller was exposed to 2,000 advertising messages every day. Today, that’s more like 5,000. Every year, consumers are hit with nearly 2 million marketing messages.

The average person can hold seven pieces of information in their short-term memory.

No wonder consumers feel bombarded and don’t want to know. Their eyes, ears and minds are overloaded to breaking point.

The Conventional Solution

The struggle to capture the attention of a cynical public is nothing new.

The conventional solution is what I do with Ruby when she’s not listening:

Shout louder.

As Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO of New York ad agency the Kaplan Thaler Group, says:

“We never know where the consumer is going to be at any point in time, so we have to find a way to be everywhere. Ubiquity is the new exclusivity.”

That’s fine if you’ve got a marketing budget the size of a developing country’s GNP. But what about the rest of us?

Social media in business offers a low-cost, accessible solution. You can’t be anywhere, but you can be accessible anywhere in the world with an internet connection. And you sure can shout.

You’ve seen the Facebookers and Twitterati that do this. They repeat the same message over and over and over again. “Read my book!”; “Buy my product!”; “Check out my blog!”

This is the spray and pray solution, where social media in business is seen as a megaphone.

It doesn’t work. Do this, and you’ll crash and burn.

(Shouting louder doesn’t work with Ruby, either).

Why Conventional Fails

Shouting louder doesn’t work in any context because it simply reinforces consumer behavior. The more you bombard them with messages, the better they’ll become at ignoring you.

(Interesting story. On a recent train journey, I noticed adverts had been printed at the top of the menu cards. The menu cards had been designed so wherever you sat, you were face-to-face with the advert for the whole journey. Yet every menu card in every seat had been folded, clandestinely, by train passengers, to hide the advert. That’s what I’m talking about)

Shouting louder especially doesn’t work on social media.

Why? Because social media is not a megaphone for your business. Rather, it’s a set of ear muffles for your customers and potential customers.

If they don’t want to hear what you’re saying, they don’t follow you.

Take off those Ear Muffles

There’s a simple way to get people to listen.

Simple doesn’t mean easy, however. This will take effort and dedication on your part.

I’ll explain this technique in one short sentence:

Speak when your audience take off their ear muffles.

When do people take off their ear muffles?

When they’re talking with their friends. Your first strategy is to get people talking to you and about you. Contests, promotions, or “pay with a tweet” can help, but ultimately the best way to get people talking is to be conversational.

Spend time on social media hanging out with your customers. Be approachable. Answer their questions.

When you do this consistently, you’ll achieve organic growth, with word of your remarkable business whispered from friend to friend to friend.

When they’re listening to someone they trust. These are the bloggers and authors they already read, the YouTube channels they already watch, the email lists they’re subscribed to. This is why guest posting works. Other strategies include contributing to a multi-authors ebook, taking part in interviews, and joint webinars with authority figures. Webinars are particularly effective. Jon Morrow got 13,000 subscribers just doing webinars and interviews, without having a single post on his own blog.

When they don’t want to miss out. When people notice you doing something amazing, they’ll willingly take off their ear muffles. When you provide massive value, for free, your audience will want to throw their ear muffles to the floor.

By massive, I mean massive. When they take off their ear muffles, they’re expecting to be enthralled – and have every expectation shattered – just like a deaf person hearing music for the first time.

(Side note: You should also be this good when you’re hanging out on social media, and when you’re doing guest posts and webinars).

In the words of Steve Martin: “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”

What do you think?

I’m curious. What have you found are the best ways to get a cynical audience to listen online in a marketing-saturated world?