Can’t hear/Won’t listen – The Unreachables?

August 21, 2009

won't listen

One of the things we’ll soon be hearing a lot about is the new film ‘New Moon’, sequel to ‘Twilight’, based on the wildly successful books of the Twilight series, written by Stephanie Meyer. I’ve recently been working my way through the books, and pretty quickly too (they’re quite addictive). But then, I’m good at getting fanatical about things. I quite enjoy it. I’m a fan of lots of things; I like to get involved, even if I do sometimes take it too far and become a little obsessed (I’m positively giddy in anticipation of Mad Men season 3). For similar reasons, I’m also an advertiser’s dream. I’m happy to listen; in fact, I’ve sometimes gone as far as to consciously reward good advertising by making purchases.

There are, however, lots of people who don’t like Twilight, and I would hazard a guess that many of those people are firmly in the “I’m not reading that nonsense/claptap” camp. Similarly, there are many, many people who are closed- off to advertising. They may be over- exposed to it, or they may consider themselves too ad-literate to get involved, or maybe they are just too cynical about the whole thing. They may simply be oblivious. Whatever the reason; some people can’t hear, and some people won’t listen. In both cases, we have to be clever about how we try to reach them.  

It would be easy to jump to the conclusion that we’re talking about doing something sinister and tricking people into listening. I’m happy to argue that we’re doing them a favour. Most of the time, the message is about something that will offer them a benefit of some kind; otherwise the product or service would never have been produced. For the consumer, information is power; it helps to purify the market and tilts it in their favour. Of course…. individual consumers don’t think like that.

So what can we do? When building a communication strategy we need to think about more than ‘what are we doing for what target audience’. We also need to think about what we are doing for the part of that audience who can’t hear or won’t listen. If they can’t hear, maybe we should shout louder, or try a different pitch. If they won’t listen, we should think about catching them on the hop, reaching them when they’re not expecting to be reached in a way they can’t anticipate. It gives us the opportunity to be truly creative in our thinking. Instead of rejecting this part of the audience as ‘the unreachables’,  really, shouldn’t it be the part we’re truly excited about?



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