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The lesson of the 1-legged seagull

It’s easier to reach people today than ever before in history.

However, that is both a blessing and a curse. Why? Because if it’s easier for you to reach people, it’s also easier for everyone on the planet to reach people. This leads to email overload, sensory overload, Internet addiction, tech burnout, and all kinds of modern day problems.

For the business owner, the problem narrows down to the question of how to get noticed.

Have you ever been on an ocean beach where hundreds of seagulls were scurrying up and down the edge of the water doing that “Mine! Mine! Mine!” seagull scream? If not at the shore, I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar in an open field or school yard.

I remember one day like that, but as I scanned the flock of gulls – more like a herd, actually – one caught my eye. It was hopping around and keeping up with all the other gulls despite the fact that it only had one leg.

I had to look two or three times to make sure I was seeing it right. I thought maybe it merely had one leg tucked into its belly or something. But no, this gull was getting by with just one spindly little seagull leg.

Once I noticed it, I couldn’t take my eyes off the one-legged gull.

You need to learn a lesson from that bird and apply it to your online marketing. That gull captured my attention and held it for two very basic reasons:

  • It was different from all the rest, and
  • It had an emotionally appealing story to tell.

The other hundred seagulls “reached” me, but the one-legged gull was the only bird that “touched” me.

First, note that it didn’t take a lot to catch my eye. After all, seagull legs are pretty tiny. I think this gull’s hopping motion is what I noticed, and even that wasn’t too different from how two-legged gulls get around on the sand.

Here’s the point: Our senses are quite good. We are visually screening our environment virtually every waking hour and we notice little things. You don’t have to be radically different visually to stand out from the crowd. You just need to have that one noticeable difference. I’ve discussed this many times in regards to your product or service, but the same principle applies to your marketing materials.

Second, once you catch your prospects’ eye, you need to grab their heart. I’m using the word “heart” here in a very general way. Your appeal doesn’t need to bring tears to your prospect’s eyes; it just needs to connect on some emotional level. The promise or proof of superior quality might grab the hearts of people who have been suffering through less than stellar quality, for example.

These points are important to remember when you’re developing marketing campaigns. We all want our marketing campaigns to return hundreds of qualified prospects. You can do this by spending a lot of money on ad buys – or you can differentiate your materials and design them in ways that push the right emotional buttons and get just as many prospects with smaller ad buys.

The question you need to ask yourself is this: Are you “touching” people or merely “reaching” people?

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