“Simple. I got very bored and depressed, so I went and plugged myself in to its external computer feed. I talked to the computer at great length and explained my view of the Universe to it,” said Marvin. “And what happened?” pressed Ford. “It committed suicide,” said Marvin and stalked off back to the Heart of Gold.” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Why do you find one thing interesting and another completely boring?
I find, increasingly, that I have a low tolerance for boring stuff.
People who know me, on the other hand, would suggest that everything I do is catastrophically boring.
Including spending any time researching what makes something boring.
Paul J. Silva has done much of the hard work for us.
He says that coming across something you already know leaves you cold.
Not really that interested.
Sort of like listening to the safety briefing when you fly.
Cabin pressure. Masks. Yours first. Jacket under seat.
You know this stuff.
When you’re already familiar with the material being discussed you’ll simply tune out knowing you aren’t missing much.
Clearly what you know is a subset of the much larger set of things you don’t know.
And this is where things get interesting.
The first part of Silva’s argument is that new stuff is interesting.
So, if you want to make what you’re doing more interesting inject some “newness”.
If you look around a lot of activity is spent in trying to make things new.
Headlines that promise a new insight.
The entire phenomenon of 24-hour news.
A world filled with gossip on social media – fuelled by people wanting to be the first to know.
Some people have become famous mainly because they swear a lot in the stuff they put out and when they started that was new.
But then, new starts to get old.
When everyone’s swearing and copying things that were once new and interesting the magic disappears – it stops working as well.
The winners are the ones who captured the market first.
What’s the point here?
It’s that if you want to be the next Vaynerchuk or Ferris or Jenner you need something new and can’t just copy what they did.
The second part of Silva’s argument is that new is not enough.
It also needs to be understandable.
If you look around you’ll see lots of companies trying to create new ways to do old things.
Take customer relationship management software.
Businesses think they need them.
And others are trying to make new ones all the time – from Salesforce to Zoho.
What makes these interesting to people that want to buy CRMs is that they are understandable.
You get the idea of a web interface, the ability to add accounts and make notes and get reminders and share reports.
It might be new, but it’s understandable.
Now, let’s say I said to you that all you needed was a delimiter separated file and a simple script that let you manage it – the universe of people that will understand that starts to shrink quickly.
It’s new, but probably not understandable to people unfamiliar with the terminology.
Or maybe not – maybe anyone reading this gets it.
It’s hard to tell.
What isn’t hard to get is that if you want to get your message across you need make it new but you also need to deliver it in a way your audience understands.
And that goes back to very simple marketing concepts that most companies get completely wrong.
Like writing things in words your readers know rather than in jargon you do.
It’s not difficult really.
See the world through your audience’s eyes and point them to something new that they’ll understand and enjoy.