Marketers: Stop Complaining About a “Noisy World” – Noise Is Not Your Problem

This article will “cut through the clutter.”
It’s sure to “stand out from all the noise.”
Yes, we live in a world jam-packed with stuff. And as marketers, we love to complain about it. Everywhere you turn, there’s someone in marketing talking about how to handle this “noisy world” of ours:

But here’s the deal: Noise is not your problem. 

In 2014, after working for Google, HubSpot, and a Series A tech startup — all in digital media and content marketing roles — I pushed my chair to the other side of the tech industry’s table and started working in venture capital. For the next three years, I called NextView Ventures my work-home  — and what a wonderful home it was.

One day, I decided to create what should have been a simple blog post: a roundup of all the top podcasts hosted by VCs. I thought it would be a great way to announce our upcoming show. I was admittedly nervous about the launch: It was my project, and hundreds of startup-focused shows already existed by the time we created ours. In other words: We were about to compete in a noisy niche inside our noisy world. (Oh, the humanity!!!)

 

For the article that day, I did what you’d expect: I linked to a bunch of links to various VC shows, then copied and pasted their podcast descriptions into the article. I got about four or five podcasts deep, and that’s when I saw it:

  1. (Show / VC Firm): A discussion about tech startups and trends from (Firm)
  2. (Show / VC Firm): A casual conversation about technology, entrepreneurship, gadgets, and more. 
  3. (Show / VC Firm): Weekly interviews with leaders in tech and entrepreneurship. 
  4. (Show / VC Firm): An insider look at tech, VC, and where the world is headed. 

I’d copied and pasted four separate descriptions for four shows. Apparently, all I needed was one.

Noise competing with noise competing with noise.

Feeling the pressure to publish, I shrugged and sheepishly sent the article out into the ether. It did … okay.

But then something amazing happened.

Our brand new show started getting all this attention. TechStars, the multi-city startup incubator, created a roundup of “every damn startup podcast imaginable.” The only three VCs to be given an A+ were Kleiner Perkins (45 years in business, with investments like Google and Amazon), Andreesen Horowitz (the hottest firm on the planet, with $2.7 billion under management) … and NextView. We were five years into the firm — a baby by VC standards. Our biggest portfolio company at the time employed 100 people in one office in downtown Boston.

And stuff like that just kept happening. Social media love. Email love. Guest requests.

Forbes ranked us among their top-12 shows for entrepreneurs. We were listed next to a competitor who boasted 120 episodes and 1 million social followers, plus a tech media outlet with 85 episodes and 3 million monthly uniques. Then there was us: 13 episodes. 50,000 Twitter followers across the entire team. Two-hundred dollars in budget. And 33% of one person’s time (me).

Um. Wut.

All we’d done (and I can’t stress that enough) was create a show that was slightly different than the others. Instead of the NextView Show or Tech Innovators, we called it Traction. Instead of describing it as “a discussion about tech and investing,” we promised “creative and clever stories of how startups start.”

We got massive results in less time and with fewer resources than I ever imagined possible.

After all, by launching this show, we’d added more noise to that noisy world.

This isn’t an isolated incident, either. Whether you’re on the biggest possible brand stage — Apple, Red Bull, Marriott — or you’re a brand-new company, we see this happen everywhere. When it’s noisy, and someone zigs while everybody else zags, they win. They stand out. They get attention and results.

At a time when everyone is swapping out creative thinking for tired best practices or whatever the latest guru likes to say “works,” your power lies in understanding your own context and critically thinking about how to differentiate. Sure, someone on Medium is going to write that you HAVE TO do something exactly their way. But maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe instead of painting with a similar shade as everyone else, go find some white space. Own something outright.

Big or small, new or entrenched, B2B or B2C, for-profit or nonprofit — it doesn’t matter. We all live and work in the same noisy world, but that is not the issue.

It’s time we embraced reality and acted accordingly:

Noise is not your problem. Sameness is. 

 This article was inspired by this episode of Unthinkable called “Zig When Others Zag.” Stories include the tale of Eddie the Terrible and the curious case of DJ Viceroy’s brand.

The post Marketers: Stop Complaining About a “Noisy World” – Noise Is Not Your Problem appeared first on Unthinkable.

1 thought on “Marketers: Stop Complaining About a “Noisy World” – Noise Is Not Your Problem

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, Jay! Indeed, it’s a noisy world out there. I like how you emphasized on simply not joining the bandwagon or going with the flow. Thinking outside of the box also helps. I think in this very crowded world, standing out can be difficult but I think we don’t know to go too far to think of clever ways to be unique. For a start, maybe creating a post and not mentioning ‘noisy world’ could just spell out the difference. Good job!

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