I had a different topic in mind for this post. Originally, it was going to look at this question:
"How many messages does the average person see every day?"
I figured the answer would be a solid foundation for a post about the communications torrent our own messages are up against.
I was wrong.
It's a stupid question. (Yes, they really do exist).
For a start, it's too broad. Worse, the answer is unknowable.
Even reducing it down to "marketing messages" or "advertisements" doesn't make the question any more practical.
That doesn't stop people from telling you the answer, though. A half-hour online trawl churned up articles quoting figures ranging from a couple of hundred to tens of thousands. However, none of the posts were linked to any kind of creditable research. Access to genuine source material is in short supply on the internet. Mostly, people just keep referring to each other.
Even if there were a genuinely trustworthy study about the number of marketing messages the average person is exposed to every day, or if one could be done, I'm not sure the answer would be very useful.
The answer is always going to be, "A fat, mahoosive cartload".
The magnitude of "mahoosive" will vary, but I'm certain that, regardless of how big the number is, it is bigger than the number of messages people actually pay attention to. Let alone engage with in any meaningful way. There are just too many of them.
From that perspective, the total number of messages becomes irrelevant. To make it more zen: messages simply are.
So how can we, as communicators and marketers, get people to pay attention to our message?
People are, I think, too unpredictable and fickle to allow themselves to be neatly boxed up into a single formula. So instead of "the" answer, here's "an" answer:
Make your message beneficial to your audience. Make it valuable to them.
Value can be enlightenment or entertainment, or both. But only if these things are what your intended audience is looking for. Otherwise they'll ignore the message at best. At worst, they'll endure it and hate us forever after.
So, part of our job as communicators is to make it clear that our message will meet our audience's need at the moment they encounter it.
For instance, advertisements on TV are painfully dull and dumb experiences. Nobody seeks them out. People mostly watch TV to be entertained. That's the value they're looking for. So why not make adverts entertaining? At least then, viewers might not fast forward past them. They would at the very least be aligned with the audience's need at that particular moment in time.
This isn't radical thinking. It's just not being done very often. That's my impression. How about you?
So, I suppose, at the end of all of that, my real question is, "Shouldn't we make our messages valuable?"