Higher quality photos, better headlines, stronger calls-to-action (CTAs), Facebook Ads!! No wait, now it's Instagram ads. No wait, now it's video. No wait PODCASTS!! You must have a podcast!!!!

Each month there's a new marketing tactic that's supposed to be the silver bullet. The thing that will get you noticed online. And sometimes they work, but that's not actually the problem.

The problem is you don't want to stand out among the noise...or you shouldn't want to.

Playing the "how can my message stand out?" game is like being a contestant on the Bachelor.

You start making a fool of yourself in an effort to get attention.

More attention is NOT the goal if you want a successful business.

Back in the day, attention was enough to get you where you needed to go. Eyeballs meant attention. Attention meant conversions. Conversions meant SALES.

Ergo: Attention = sales.

Except in today's marketplace, thanks to the constant barrage of messages coming at us, "eyeballs"  don't guarantee anything. In fact, we've been conditioned to ignore content because we've been visually assaulted by it for so many years. 

The few times you do get attention (let's say, something goes viral) it rarely has the desired impact on your sales. It is, however, great for the ego, so if that's your metric, disregard the rest of this article.

But if you'd like to grow your business:

You don't want attention. You want resonance.

Like all things in life, this is best explained through a metaphor about high school.

You're an 11th grade girl at a party. You want to be the "center of attention." The implication is that's a good thing, but...consider this: If you poop yourself on the dance floor, you're the center of attention.

Which is probably not what you were going for when you thought you wanted attention. So problem #1: attention isn't exactly a specific or useful goal here.

But whatever, you're looking good and you've been drinking, so you're loud and flirty and, voila! You become the loud, flirty center of attention.

Success. You have everyone's attention. You've stood out among the noise.

But what does that attention get you?

Laid.

(Don't blush. You remember high school.) Your strategy was to be loud and flirty (if you're not following the metaphor that means bombastic clickbait headlines, unreasonable claims, and perfect images).

The attention-strategy gets you laid. Which is problem #2:

Attention gets you a one-night-stand. It doesn't get you the relationship you're looking for.

That comes from resonance.

If you're in business, you want a relationship, not a one night stand (I can't comment on what's best for your personal life).

If you're in business, you want the relationship.

Where attention used to equal sales, today relationships equal sales. Without the relationship you have nothing.

Attention gets you a one-night-stand. Resonance gets you the relationship.

So, it's not that you "can't" stand out in a "noisy" world.

It's, well, why would you want to?

Published on: Mar 22, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.