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When in Doubt…Take Small Steps

January 28, 2011

There is so much noise today.

As individuals and consumers we are constantly bombarded from left, right and center with tweets, videos, campaigns, contests and status updates. “Look at me!” They all cry out for our attention, begging us to take just a few precious moments to look harder, read further and act now.

The noise is so loud it’s deafening. And it’s only going to get louder.

Brands, businesses and companies are responsible for creating and bringing that noise. Today they are doing everything in their power to create unique noise, ultraspecific noise and urgent noise because they’re either told or savvy enough to realize that that is the only type of noise we will listen to and act on. Attention has become one of the hottest commodities around. Its value knows no true number and the competition to acquire it is more than just stiff.

Before today, all they had to do in order to snag our eyes and ears was to, forgive the cliché, “think outside of the box.” Think outside of the box and they had us. We listened and acted because, before today, they held the power.

Things are different now. The “they” which used to represent the brands, the businesses and the companies now represents the blogger, the tweeter, the Facebooker and the YouTuber to name a few. “They” now refers to us and to get our attention “thinking outside the box” just isn’t going to cut it.

This morning, a good friend, Nathan Richie, posed the question on Twitter of ridding “think outside the box” from our marketing vernacular. I personally couldn’t agree more. It’s been done and continues to be done. People are thinking so far outside that box that they’ve lost their way and can’t even see it anymore. But the question now becomes…what will take its place?

Do we get rid of the box completely? Start fresh and, instead of focusing on constraints and parameters, focus on what works and not what doesn’t work or couldn’t work.


Do we think inside the box? Do we force ourselves to go back to the basics and remember what it was that grabbed attention before the dawn of social media and all its shiny gadgets? In all of the excitement to jump on the digital and social media bandwagon it seems like the basics got lost or misplaced.

It’s a toss up and I’m not sure that I know the answer. What I do know is that “thinking outside of the box” is just going to create a lot more noise. Noise in the form of monstrous ideas that may work for a minute but fade in the long run.

My advice…When in doubt, just take the next small step.

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