How to Stop Spamming & Actually Get People to Listen to You

The mindset of most spammers is this: If we show up and interrupt you long enough, eventually you’ll pay attention.

For decades, this worked for advertisers and marketers. If you bought TV time or space in a magazine or newspaper and made enough noise, you would eventually get noticed. But now, there’s just one problem with that strategy:

It doesn’t work anymore.

Stop Spamming
Photo credit: Dave Parker (Creative Commons)

Nobody wants to be bothered with something they didn’t ask for. No one will listen to a message that is irrelevant to them. In a busy world, time is our most valuable asset.

Still, tons of authors, bloggers, and advertisers insist on using this strategy of interruption every day to get people’s attention. They keep talking, hoping someone will listen. (They won’t.)

If you’re doing this, please stop. You’re just annoying the rest of us.

Enough with the noise-making. It’s time to start building a platform worth noticing.

Three things you need to get heard

As I mentioned before in a recent post, every message worth hearing needs the following:

  • Anticipation
  • Relevance
  • Personal approach

I didn’t make these up; I stole them straight from Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing — a book you should pick up, if you haven’t read it. (You can get the first third and basic gist of it at

When you have permission, you have something every communicator wants: a captive audience.

Think of any subscription service you have, a recent package you ordered, the date you have tonight. You can’t wait for them. Why? Because you gave someone permission to deliver this message to you. You’re expecting it.

Anticipation is everything. If I’m waiting for your message, I care about it. If not, then I don’t care — no matter how good it is.

If the message doesn’t feel relevant and personal to me, I will tune it out. And so will your audience.

You have to be a little weird

With so much noise and competition in our world, if your content isn’t customized for a very particular niche, you risk sounding too general, too vanilla. And nobody wants normal anymore. We all want weird.

The cool thing about a blog or any kind of platform is that it allows you to accomplish those three things I mentioned pretty easily. If you have a way for people to subscribe, a message that connects, and a unique style, you’re in. You are on your way to finding your tribe.

Building a platform takes time and a ton of permission. But it’s not impossible. It just requires work (or for you to be the heir of a hotel tycoon).

It’s all about permission

So how does this work? How do you create a channel people actually care about tuning into? How do you build something worth our attention? Here are four simple (but not easy) steps:

  1. Resist the temptation to interrupt. To shout and scream and beg to be heard.
  2. Start with what you know. Is it cars? Movies? Storytelling? Whatever it is, start sharing your expertise.
  3. Provide opportunities for people to listen. If you have to get someone’s attention, do it respectfully and honestly.
  4. Blow away your audience with something remarkable. Once you have attention, don’t squander it. Defy the odds; exceed expectations. Be awesome.

Sure, you can bypass all of these and just wave your hands in the air. A few people will probably notice. But as soon as something new distracts them, they’ll forget about you.

Remember this: How you win your audience is how you will have to keep it. If you build a platform on interruption, you’ll have to keep interrupting people. And nobody wants that. Not even you.

The only way to get sustainable attention in this world is to earn it. Show up. Ask permission. And deliver the goods. Anything else is a sham and eventually gets ignored.

How do you get people to listen to you? And what do you actually listen to? Share in the comments.

Disclosure: Some of the above links were affiliate links.

*Photo credit: Dave Parker (Creative Commons)