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It never ceases to amaze me how creative (and crazy) some marketers can be when it comes to getting their message in front of their target audience.

Consider the case of Uber and the aggressive campaign to introduce their new ride sharing service to people in Mexico City. The company’s marketing team sent out a small army of drones equipped with sassy signs promoting UberPOOL. Drivers were confronted with these “flying billboards” while gridlocked in the city’s notorious rush hour traffic. Talk about pouring salt in an open wound!

Of course, pulling off something like this in the US or Europe is highly unlikely (given the regulatory environment) but it is emblematic of just how far marketers will go to garner our attention with interruptive tactics. The jury is out on the effectiveness of this campaign in Mexico, but Uber claims to have earned significant media attention for UberPOOL with their crazy move.

Whether you are a start-up or a long-established company, coming up with new ways to market your brand can be tricky. There is so much noise in the market today and overwhelming competition for people’s attention, that it can be tremendously frustrating for a marketer to figure out how to stand out from the crowd and make an impact.

As Seth Godin asserts, “Marketing is a contest for people’s attention”. That’s certainly true. However, the interruptive nature of brand messaging through traditional marketing methods, such as broadcast advertising, direct mail, display advertising, flashy booths at trade shows, and even sales people at times—is just noise and nuisance. Worse yet, if you think you can trick people into paying attention, it will certainly backfire. Your audience will go out of their way to avoid you at all costs.

As I suggest in my new book, Marketing, Interrupted, great marketing is not about you, your brand, your product, your service and all the other awesome things that you are and have. It’s about them– your customer. It’s about making the customer the hero and engaging them to make your brand story a part of their personal life story. The new reality demands that marketing should speak to and with us, not at us. Transformative marketers embrace this reality and adjust to the ever-changing marketplace without losing sight of what needs to be done to give people a reason to care, a reason to listen, a reason to engage, and then and only then, a reason to buy.

In that spirit, here are three suggestions to inspire you to transform how you market your brand and earn (rather than grab) attention from your target audience:

  1. Share Your Authentic Ideas

One sure-fire way to boost brand awareness, nurture leads and engage prospects is through content marketing. Freely sharing your authentic ideas can be a great gift and it is often the first step towards giving people a reason to care. If your ideas are relevant to your target audience, then you are well on your way to giving them a reason to listen. Publishing a blog is a great way to start and there are various online platforms to help you create and optimize content to appeal to your customers. Your blog posts should be varied, informative, and most importantly, published on a predictable and regular basis. Readers will come back if they like what you post, and through regular updates and shares on social media, you could soon grow a loyal and dedicated following. Blogging also demonstrates a certain level of discipline that you have for positioning your brand as a thought leader in the markets where you compete. With dedication and ruthless consistency, you end up creating an authentic brand voice recognized and sought out by your target customers. Just be careful: blogging is not synonymous with selling. It’s about freely sharing ideas that may be of value to your customers. In exchange, prospects may share more details about themselves and their needs – helping you to tailor your ideas, personalize messages more specifically to them, and move them through their buying process on their terms. Don’t interpret their increasing engagement as an open invitation to turn on the hardcore selling tactics… you’ll just scare them away.

  1. Celebrate Your Heroes

Everybody loves to hear a great story. A story with a compelling plot, interesting characters and an evil villain has the power to engage people. And of course, everyone loves a good hero – especially if it’s a hero like them! Every brand has great stories to tell about its customers and their trials, tribulations, failures and successes. A great way to earn attention and stand out from the crowd is to tell a great story – a story the celebrates your heroes. After all, the people who use your products and services and achieve amazing outcomes are heroes in their own right. You just need to help them recognize and celebrate that fact! Don’t forget: your brand has a role as well. You are the guide for the hero – the hard working, egoless Sherpa who helps them summit Everest! So, check your ego and share stories about your customer heroes and celebrate their successes – it’s a guaranteed way to differentiate your brand and stand out from the crowd.

  1. Assure Your Place Reflects Your Brand

This is probably not top-of-mind for most marketers, but your place of business often represents an opportunity to shape your customer’s first impression of you and your brand. Moreover, if you’re not paying attention to it, your workspace may be sending the wrong signals to your customers. Modern, dated, formal, fancy, sloppy, tidy? Within the first few seconds, a visitor to your office will begin to form opinions and draw conclusions based on what they see and experience. The workplace culture and general “office vibe” also play an important role in sending non-verbal cues to customers. The creative design and aesthetic of your office have the potential to instantly communicate your values, your operating norms, and even your priorities as a brand. The layout of your workspace and how your employees interact within it signals operating norms – like a focus on unfettered collaboration (open shared spaces) versus uniform islands of interaction (lots of cubicles!). Your office is a cornerstone of your brand identity, so making sure that it is an accurate representation of what your brand stands for is a critical success factor. A bright, welcoming space, with functionality, comfort, and style in mind, can inspire your team and showcase who you are as a company. To make sure your office design aligns with your brand story you need to engage a partner who will help you transform and inspire great performance. Your space should enable your employees to be more productive and effective in delighting your customers. In turn, they will give your customers a reason to engage, a reason to buy, and most importantly, a reason to stay.