Yes I stole that from National Lampoon. But there’s a point to be made.
Getting and holding your audience’s attention is harder than ever.
The latest research says we experience 5,000 marketing messages on a typical day. That’s 5,000 taps on the shoulder demanding your focus.
Your brain is a miracle of mental filtration. Faster than Mitt Romney can say “Obamacare” we cast 99.9% of those shoulder taps into cognitive oblivion. They never happened.
There’s a timeworn strategy for slipping past the “ignore-this-alamus” of the brain. Easy to explain, hard to execute:
Don’t be predictable.
As Lisa Cron points out in her momentous new book “Wired for Story,” our brains evolved long ago to strain through the billions of sensory inputs for a few morsels of relevant info. If we can’t eat it, mate with it, or run away from it, we ignore it.
The signal that triggers the ignore-this-alamus is predictability. If we know what’s coming (and it doesn’t pose a threat or promise lunch or nookie) it gets zero attention.
Most non-profit writing is deadly predictable. It’s hard not to be. It’s so much easier to navigate the mushmill of internal review with copy that takes no chances. Just remember, if your copy offends no one, it’s likely that it delights no one as well.
This is the first of a series of rants on writing. Next up – how to communicate better by communicating less.