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Signals, Noises, and Pain

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In my prior column, The Trouble with Advertising, I talked about what advertising can and cannot do. In particular, I made the point that advertising cannot persuade people.

The problem is that there are still a lot of companies out there desperately trying to use advertising to persuade people. People are being exposed to more messages than ever before. As a result, it's even harder to get your message across.

So how do you cut through the Noise?

Well, it is possible, but to understand how to do it you first have to understand how people process information.

Every human being possesses an Attentional System. This system serves two functions. First, it allows us to concentrate on what we are doing. Second, it alerts us to what is going on in the surrounding environment so that nothing bad happens to us.

It doesn't do much good to be able to focus on tying that spear point to your spear if you don't notice the lion that is sneaking up behind you. People who have Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are very good at the second function and very bad at the first.

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Chris O'Leary ( is an eBusiness strategist for Cambridge Technology Partners (

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