Brian Creath

“People read what interests them. Sometimes, it’s an ad.”

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2009 at 11:55 am

(2009 Update:) “Or a blog. Or an email. Or a text message.” Howard Gossage, iconic advertising maverick wrote the headline to this post more than 40 years ago. And while his ‘ad’ reference may seem a bit outdated, the essence of his thought has never been more true. People, being the humans they are, are still curious and still quite vulnerable to being engaged by interesting thought.

Admittedly, this is now a more difficult proposition than it was in Mr. Gossage’s day. There is more clutter, more noise, more distraction, more fragmentation, and more ‘choice’ than ever before. And so, we have convinced ourselves that people don’t read, they have shorter attention spans, and are ‘just too busy,’ to spend time with an idea.

It’s an easy trap: musicians, movie-makers, game-makers, and more have fallen prey to this belief. Make it faster, make it louder, make it more ‘cool.’ Regardless (and often in spite) of a big–or even medium-sized–idea. Marketing culture, which has always adhered to an art-imitates-life credo, simply tries to keep pace. Much of which (at least from a media/distribution standpoint) is necessary. Problem is that along the way, marketing is losing its most fundamental tool: The ability to engage people with a powerful idea that sells something. A message, bigger than the technology delivering it.

For most, trying to stay on the bleeding edge of trendsetting is a losing proposition. Someone else can always be a little bit faster, a little bit louder, a little bit more ‘cool.’ Nope, for most, the best way to win today (and any day) is to be the most interesting you, you can be. Own it. Live it. Be it. Regardless of how fast the world moves. Regardless of the next new technology.

Work on your position. Work on your message. Create an emotional connection that no one else can have.

Remember: People buy what interests them. Sometimes, it’s you.

While I’m working on my next post, I hope you’ll read about how Cohesion helps organizations build stronger messaging to increase consistency, lower cost and drive growth, here.

  1. I like the concept of being the most interesting you, and I think part of the frenzy of “more this and more that” comes from the shock of new data about how people consume content as well as a feeling that we can’t be ourselves. I think it is important to realize that we have been gathering information about content consumption, and reading in particular, for a while now (see the book “On Reading” by Kenneth Goodman). However, now we are getting more revealing data from being able to track people while they read and consume content (e.g. eye tracking studies) rather than inferring from lab observation. I think that up to this point, we could delude ourselves into thinking that people were reading what we were producing based on broader and more crude measures. Now, we can track it so well, that we are in a bit of shock when we see content completely “discarded”. I would agree that people are trying too hard to make themselves “more” rather than acting naturally. Anybody who knows how to make friends knows how to connect to an audience.

  2. […] people don’t read what’s in front of them; people read what interests them. The basic principles of context and relevance still apply as new trends emerge: Every post, text […]

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