The attention battleground – The art of standing out from the crowd

Every moment in time is made up of infinite unique details. As humans traversing our lives we process, categorize and file these moments, but most are discarded because our conscious minds can not make sense of so much information.

With so much information, bombarding our senses, you and I are hard-wired to ignore anything that is predictable, or irrelevant… So we can free our brain to focus on things that are important to us at the moment.

A direct effect of this filtering, is we reduce the memories of our entire lives, to only the truely remarkable moments and highlights.

This excellent video highlights exactly how good we are at ignoring information our subconscious classifies as irrelevant… Even things that are seemingly impossible to miss.

How does this relate to us in business?

Everyday you are exposed to thousands of advertising messages, from posters, billboards, radio, TV ads, and a hundred other mediums. So how many do you remember from today?

Don’t be discarded

If you want to be noticed. If you want to grab attention – you MUST be remarkable. To escape being filtered and discarded, you have to stand out from the crowd.

‘Me too’ businesses don’t win because they become a commodity that’s too easy to ignore.

How to stand out and get attention

There are countless ways to stand above the sameness of the crowd… here are a few to try:

1. Do the opposite of what everyone else is doing

Write yourself a list of the standard practices in your industry. What would happen if you deliberately changed one or more of these standard practices? Can you change the business model entirely?

2. Have a strong (even controversial) opinion

Ever meet someone at a party (or anywhere else) and they agreed with everyone about everything they said. They never have their own opinion because they are scared of saying the wrong thing or offending somebody. Lets face it, people like this are just plain bland.

Heres the thing, you might not dislike them, but there are hardly interesting enough for you want to become best mates with. You can;t be mates with them because you never know who they are.

You don’t have to be liked by everyone. In fact… no matter what you do. someone l won’t like you or you business.

If you take a stand on an issue, some people will disagree and hate you, some will absolutely love you for it, and others won’t care much either way. But no-one will be able to ignore you.

3. Tie yourself to an event or person that is already getting attention

People are always talking about some current event or other, from a change in the seasons, to sporting events and topical news. Clever campaigns to relate your business to these existing conversations can let you share the spotlight.

One more thing…

We also notice people we have a relationship with. When you walk down a crowded street, you always recognize a friend or someone you know well. Enter Content marketing and Social Media. By forming a relationship with people before you sell to them, you gain their trust and attention.

What examples have you seen of businesses standing out from the crowd? Do you have any tips or tricks to stand out from the crowd? Share them in the comments.


Be cool… share this on Facebook, Twitter or with someone that will get some value from it. Everyone else is doing it.

About Al

Alistair has managed and built small businesses in a varied industries from agriculture to the web. Years in sales lead to his obsession with marketing.
In his spare time he enjoys time with his family, sails and reads marketing books.
Get more from Alistair on Twitter and Google+.


  1. Go against the herd is generally beneficial. Doing it just for the sake of doing generally doesn’t hold much value, but if you have a strong belief against the masses you’ll probably end up in good shape.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts Steve. That’s a good point about artificially creating a controversial opinion.

    That said, I think a anytime someone is passionate about a subject, they do have strong opinions, but all to often they soften them, or even hide them to avoid turning a few people off. I think it’s a better strategy to highlight these opinions and gain a maybe smaller, but more passionate audience.

    There are plenty of small cafes (for example) who decry the blandness of chain outlets like Starbucks and gain a loyal base of coffee fanatics.

    I think you are right in that it must be a genuine opinion that is at the core of the business values.

  3. Number Two for me old mate. And the thing I have always attacked is the automation on Twitter. I am a long time fan of Billy Connolly, (Probable because he started as a boily! lol) and he often jokes about the beige set (Middle class that never rock the boat)!

    And he has a very valid point. If you are not turning anyone off, then you are not turning anyone on either, and you will never build that base of raving fans!

    Off to rock some boats! Cheers Beanie

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