Novelty Positioning Earns Mind Share

More and more businesses are setting up a presence with online communication tools, such as Facebook fan pages and Twitter accounts. Online communication has fostered a marketing trio, with mentions of a company’s website, Facebook and Twitter accounts becoming commonplace.

How does a company – let alone all the individuals that work there – connect with social media users, who are constantly being implored to ‘follow’ a cross-section as diverse as local candidates running political races, utility providers, a child’s school, an alma mater, favorite brands, television celebrities, publications and news outlets?

And they are doing all this in a space where they’re also posting personal photos, writing squibs about their day and scanning the pages of friends and contacts, perhaps using their smart phones to access online accounts while waiting in the coffee line.

The challenge is gaining mind share in a world of multi-tasking. Neuroscientist Russell Poldrack asserts “novelty is probably one of the most powerful signals to determine what we pay attention to in the world,” in his October 28, 2009 piece on the Huffington Post entitled “Multitasking: The Brain Seeks Novelty.” One novelty Poldrack mentions is the iPhone.

From a marketing standpoint, an important part of crafting a communications plan is identifying the appropriate channels to use for connecting with your audience. In designing an effective message, it’s also important to consider how audiences are accessing those channels.

“The noise level today is far too high. Messages prepared in the old, traditional ways have no hope of being successful in today’s over communicated society,” noted Al Ries and Jack Trout in their marketing classic, “Positioning.”

“The rapid pace of innovation has led to new technologies everywhere in our lives,” writes Dr. Gary Small on a Psychology Today blog (June 19, 2009). “And, I think that this new digital age is altering how we think and interact.”

To craft effective communications, it’s vital to consider these alterations and their potential impact on your target audience’s likelihood of receiving your message. For example, someone accessing social media accounts in the coffee line likely won’t have more than a few minutes to scan for relevant, interesting information. Messages should be clear, efficient and brief (great advice for using Twitter, by the way).

Fast-forward to 2010, and Ries and Trout’s thoughts about how to succeed in “the positioning era” remain relevant: “A company must create a position in the prospect’s mind… Advertising is entering an era where strategy is king.” Communication strategies must evaluate target audiences’ information and communication habits – and new technologies are a large part of the mix.

The answer to connecting with target audiences involves solid strategy grounded in knowledge of the landscape messages must travel.