How many times have you heard talk about the dreaded ‘noise’?
The other day a friend of mine lamented about how digital camera prices have dropped to a point where ‘everyone’ is calling themselves a ‘professional photographer’ and its creating so much ‘noise’ in the industry.
But it seems to be everywhere – from startups releasing a product, to companies exploring social media, to ‘content strategy,’ to hundreds of people applying for the same job opening.
Everyone seems to be asking, “how in the world are we going to break through all of this noise and capture people’s attention??”
As I’ve thought through this subject, the first question that keeps surfacing is, ‘what exactly is this noise?’
This probably warrants a longer discussion, but here are a few thoughts:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ A lot of ‘noise’ is advertising…but that’s nothing new, right?
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ People seem to be talking about a ‘new’ sort of noise, and much of the conversation seems to be centered on the internet.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Whatever else is included, it seems to me that a sizable amount of this ‘new’ noise is people creating and sharing. Call it the ‘social web’ or whatever term suits you, but more people than ever are (publicly) writing, sharing photographs, making music, coding applications, interacting, reading, etc.
Those thoughts begged these questions: “Why do people talk about noise as an enemy? And is it really a bad thing?”
I think noise scares people because of this: it’s much more difficult to get noticed in in a room of 100 people than it is in a room of 10 people. (Got the next Twitter in beta? Awesome. So do a thousand other talented people.)
No one will contest the fact that standing out in a larger crowd is a difficult barrier to overcome – the reality is that our job got a whole lot harder, and is changing a whole lot quicker than it did before. I think that makes a lot of people uncomfortable. (It should probably make them hungry to learn.)
But I’m not convinced that a conversation about ‘breaking through the noise’ is the best way to think about what we do. After all, aren’t we making things and messages for many of the people who are creating that so-called ‘noise’?
I think we need to be asking these questions:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Am I solving an actual problem or providing a better solution for people?
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Am I making every effort to produce remarkable things and communicate about them in remarkable ways?
Our jobs may be more complicated in the current marketplace, but if we weren’t willing to solve problems, come up with better solutions, or do the work of being remarkable before, any success would have been temporary even when there wasn’t so much ‘noise’.