You can divide just about any person’s life into two discrete states.
In the first state—which we’ll call the “unsettled” state—there’s a possibility of the unexpected. It’s not the wild west or anything, but a given person will be more alert during these times because his or her brain is aware of the possibility of surprises. Examples:
- Special events (a night out to a new place or an unexplored part of the city)
Unusual stuff, basically.
In the second state—the “settled” state—things are predictable. Routine and habits are most of what animates our token guy or gal. Anticipation about things changing is pretty low because, by and large, things almost never change when in the settled state.
This is watching television, driving to work, eating breakfast at the kitchen table, and so forth. Going through the motions. Not a whole lot of active thinking going on.
As you can imagine, the settled state is where most people spend the vast majority of their time.
If you want to get somebody’s attention in a big hurry, introduce an unexpected event into their life when they’re settled.
Imagine sitting at your desk at work and having a mariachi band walk into your office and begin playing you a tune.
Or your spouse handing you a cold beer while you’re sitting in church.
Or your prim and proper Aunt Mildred calling out “aw, that’s horseshit” while watching Jeopardy!™
Any an all of these situations would probably have you wondering what, exactly, just happened.
In the business, we call that a pattern interrupt. And it’s an extremely reliable way to get on somebody’s radar who is currently in the “settled” state.
If your mission is to gain attention and build authority for yourself—and, honestly, it should be—then this is your huckleberry.
Think about the person you’d like to notice you. Think about what they do when they’re settled—where they are, what they’re thinking about.
Then insert yourself into that moment and offer them the equivalent of a cold beer in church.
Throw the metaphorical cold water on their face. Wake them up.
Unsure how to do that? Grab the link in the first comment for three reality-jarring suggestions...
Ok, three ways to get attention, quick n’ dirty…
- Send them an email and spend 10 minutes writing the subject line. Make it funny, clever, and timely—all three if you can manage it. Ensure that the contents are worth their time and will measurably improve their day.
- Order a copy of a book you love. Package and ship it to them personally. Send it UPS or FedEx instead of normal postal mail. Include a brief note about why you love it and why you thought they would, too.
- Find a group of people who fit the description of your target demographic and loudly challenge one of their cultural assumptions. Do so respectfully, but make it clear that you disagree and bring evidence to support your position. Long-held beliefs that aren’t based in actual fact are another form of “television.” Facebook groups are great for this.
The common thread is that you’re throwing a bonus into the middle of a sleepy life. People will remember.