Sometimes when we look at the staggering growth of the internet, we forget that it isn’t the first communications revolution the human race has ever experienced.

Two that spring to mind are writing (c.5000BC), without which there would be no civilisation; and printing (1454), which kicked off the first explosive rise in the amount of ‘stuff’ every human being has to deal with.

So whilst it’s true that nothing compares to the internet in terms of sheer scale, it’s also worth pointing out that the human mind has been here before. And we’re still using the same, well-understood strategies for dealing with all this crap.

One of the most important is selective perception: the ability to simply ignore stuff that doesn’t interest us. We may be exposed to upwards of 4,000 marketing messages a day, but we notice virtually none of them.

This is a fact that most social media gurus will ignore, in their belief that somewhere out there is an audience of people who want to ‘engage’ with your brand and have a ‘conversation’. Before they’ve even bought or tried the product itself.

The truth is, if you want to get noticed – if you want to break through the selective perception barrier – you need a clear message, which is different from the competition’s, and has real relevance to your target audience. All of which needs to be worked out before you consider the media in which that message should be placed.

Surprising? No. Ignored by most marketeers? Yes.

And yet these are the oldest rules in the advertising playbook.


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