We are living in a world that’s much noisier, and way more crowded, than ever. You are one of over 7.3 billion people currently on the planet, with some 200 000 more people (births minus deaths) joining us every day.

Around 5.5 billion of these people watch television. Over 4.5 billion people are using mobile phones. 4.2 billion people are listening to the radio. There are over 3.5 billion people using social media: Facebook’s 2 billion users post ½ a billion comments a minute. YouTube’s 1 billion users consume 3.25 billion hours of content a month. LinkedIn has 500 m active users and achieves 15 billion page views per month. Twitter’s 350 million users generate 500 million tweets per day.

And let’s not forget the corporate side of life, where now, for the first time ever, over 150 million registered businesses around the world are clamouring for your attention amongst all this as well.

So; what possibly makes you, or your, message stand out amongst the section of the population you want to reach out to?

I spent over 18 years working in the global advertising and marketing world before shifting my communications focus. I was privileged to work with, and for, some big globally respected brand names and people – but have to admit now that what we created and successfully did for them, back then, would simply not work in today’s world.  Everything has changed; and I’ve had to as well.

Nowadays I’m a professional speaker on the subject of change; helping people wake up to the new reality and some of the biggest issues I’ve seen, because of the noise and change everywhere, is the massive decline of relevance coinciding with a dramatic reduction in attention spans.

But what’s the answer to cutting through? Less is more? Do more with less? The general feeling seems to be that you should ‘pump up the volume’… simply to post, tweet, share and shout more – but in shorter bursts; yet is this the right advice?

I think we need to pause first, and reflect on the answers to some key questions… and strangely, these are the questions I worked on back in my original marketing and advertising career days with an American creative legend called Michael Millsap who refused to develop a campaign unless ‘the problem was fully understood, in order that it’s (then already) half-solved’:

Where are you now? Can you articulate where your business or brand is in respect to the market in which it competes?

What do you actually want to achieve? What are your desired objectives for communicating?

By when do you want to achieve these things? You need to put a realistic time frame to the objectives at hand.

From whom are you going to get the business? You have to identify all target markets as well as all internal and external competitors who could help or hinder you in the process of achieving the objectives you’ve already set down.

What are the existing attitudes that these (groups of) people have? One of the least asked or answered questions in marketing; every one of the groups previously identified has certain current attitudes and beliefs which they currently hold. Do you fully understand what these are, and can you articulate them?

What do we want each of these groups to think, feel and do – differently – as a result of our communications to and with them? Knowing what outcome you require from your communication is crucial. Articulating it in properly advance provides the yardstick by which you can pre-test any messaging before spending any time or money on it in the real world.

Finally: How do you intend to achieve these outcomes? The answers to any of your communication strategies or campaigns lies in their ability to properly fill (and answer) the gap between people’s current attitudes and dispositions and the desired response you want from them.

In Summary: Merely making noise today won’t cut through, whether you do it more or less frequently. Targeted, relevant and meaningful communication is firstly essential; and when you get it right – make it relentless from there…