If you’re at all like me, I’m sure that your journey through life creates many opportunities for distraction.
Over here, Brian – talk to me!
Please Brian – what’s your sign?
Hi Brian, didn’t we meet last year?
Brian, you will love this.
Click here if you enjoy Brazilian food, Brian!
Now, don’t get me wrong – distractions can be refreshing and productive. Weirdness or chance can become brilliance with a glance and the cooperation of a synapse or three. Some of the greatest discoveries in our world were total accidents. Percy Spencer melted a chocolate bar in his trousers and discovered microwaves. George de Mestral’s dog provided the inspiration for Velcro. Constantin Fahlburg forgot to wash his hands one day and discovered saccharin, the first artificial sweetener (he was also scolded by his mother). And my personal favorite – Leo Baekeland created plastic while getting frisky with small Asian insects.
This is my favorite because in addition to creating a substance that changed the world, he also gave all men an alternative to watching Sunday football (as long as Amazon still ships bugs overnight).
But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that distractions can be earth-shatteringly, mind-blowingly great. The problem with distractions is …. they are, by their very nature, distracting. And this is not productive.
So how do I use random experiences to enrich my life, rather than slow it down or derail it? Easy – I filter them, and my filtering technique is probably the same as yours. Think of it as the Texas Two-Step Method of Time Management:
1. Consider the source
2. Consider the topic
Now I may flip the order from time to time, but the steps remain the same. Let’s say I’m looking at one of the billion emails I get every day, and the subject line is:
“A Message from Davey Crockett, President & CEO”
My filter kicks into overdrive and asks (among other things) why, if I’m so important, didn’t Davey send this email himself? A message from “Me” would have been preferable to getting a message from Davey’s assistant. Second, I know neither Davey nor his assistant. Third, I’m already bored. This email so far is the equivalent of getting a phone call and having the caller announce with great pageantry that he is calling you. Duh. The first rule of Brian at work is don’t waste my time.
OK, so maybe I’m feeling benevolent. I decide to read the first line of the email, which invites me to attend a conference in Washington, DC. Unfortunately, I don’t work with the industry this conference is touting, so I hit delete.
What happened? Two strikes and you’re out. I don’t know the sender, and the topic is not applicable to me. Filter processing complete.
Now that you know what fires me up, it’s only fair that I show you what would make me pause and seriously consider a message on its merits.
That same week I received another email, this one from Jebbit, a marketing technology company based in Boston. The subject line was “Extra #awesomesauce?” Good one Jebbit – that’s a topic near and dear to my heart. The sender obviously creeped my pages before writing – I appreciate the effort. So I read on.
“Noticed that you’re following Jebbit on Twitter – hope you’ve found it useful!
In fact I have, and the sender goes on to say he researched my employer and believes our companies could work together on several, plausible fronts. I see the possibilities, and direct my marketing people to give them a test drive and report back.
So what was different this time? I don’t know the sender, but he made the effort to know me. It didn’t look like a bulk email, so I flipped the filter and considered the topic. Jebbit nailed this – I follow them because I see applications in my business for their technology. They did some research and saw them too, then pointed them out to me. Well done – I have engaged my staff based on your email. Because of the extra effort, that email slithered through my filter and presented me with an opportunity – one that I am now researching. We did a blog about personalized marketing recently – this email is a great example of well-crafted, personalized marketing. It’s great because it worked.
Hopefully I didn’t just let the cat out of the bag. Crap, what if every marketing grad now starts Googling me to determine how to pierce my finely-honed defenses? I’ll help – my name is Brian, I’m a Libra, and I like zydeco music, playing cornhole, and I smoke Macanudo Cru Royale Poco Gordos.
PS for you clever marketers out there. I actually hate Macanudos. Unless I don’t. If you’re good you’ll figure it out.