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Using Silence to Get Attention

A while ago, I asked you to share your most burning marketing questions with me in the comments of this post, and you all submitted some great questions.

I was particularly intrigued with the question submitted by “Lazy Rockstar” which was…

For the last few years the message has been, “You don’t need record companies. Artists will market themselves online and . . . (Cue: ‘Age of Aquarius’)”

Now you have ten gazillion artist websites and everything you do gets lost in the noise.

So, here’s the question, “How do you make ‘good’ noise’?

– Lazy

My answer? Don’t make any. Instead, draw attention to your silence.

All of us are being constantly bombarded with advertising “noise” in every media you can imagine. It’s become so bad that it now follows you where ever you go (I’m referring, of course, to mobile marketing).

And with all that noise, we as humans have learned to “tune out.”

Sure the commercial is still playing on the radio, but you’re busy thinking about that important project, or paying attention to your driving, or answering that e-mail you just got.

You’ve selectively dismissed the advertising as “background noise.” It’s still there, but you’re not paying attention.

This is a problem that affects all advertising, in all markets. Consumers (you and I), have learned to hear (or see) what we want to, and filter out the rest.

So when you’re trying to get the attention of a tuned-out audience, sometimes you need to jolt their attention by doing something radically different.

Like being noticeably silent.

Imagine for a moment you’re watching your favorite show on TV and a commercial comes on. Well, if you’re like me, you’re off to the kitchen to grab a drink.

Meanwhile, the commercial is playing at a higher volume than the show. Why? Because the networks know you’ve left the room, and want you to be able to hear the commercial all the way in the kitchen while you debate whether you want a long-neck or a scotch.

And again, if you’re like me, you’re not paying attention to the car commercial that’s blaring away in the other room.

You’ve tuned out.

Now imagine for a moment, the same thing happens – except this time, the second commercial runs in complete silence.

Instantly your brain notices the difference.

“Why did it get quiet all of a sudden? Is the TV broken? Did someone turn it off? What the hell is going on?”

So you walk back into the room the TV is in to go investigate. And just that quickly, that advertiser has your FULL attention using noticeable silence as a trigger.

A recent example…

Recently, Lady Gaga, Ryan Seacrest and a bunch of other celebrities used their silence to raise money for charity by “killing” themselves online (you can read more about what they did here).

All they did was go silent on Twitter and Facebook until the specified donation amount was raised.

In a world full of noise, they attracted attention with silence.

The bottom line…

If you want to get the attention of an audience that’s bombarded with noise, use strategic, noticeable silence. When you do, you’ll be doing something that interrupts their “tuned out” state of mind, and forces them to pay attention to you. Sometimes the best way to combat a deafening roar is with no sound at all.

The trick is finding a method or a venue that draws attention to your silence. If you’re just silent when everyone else makes noise, that’s no good either. You need to be strategic about the timing, placement, and duration of your silence so you can use it to interrupt the noise, not be bulldozed by it.

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