Derek Sivers

Entrepreneur, programmer, avid student of life. I make useful things, and share what I learn.

Barking

In New York City last week, across from the library, there was a man pacing on the sidewalk, barking something hysterically at the top of his lungs. Everyone was avoiding him, even crossing the street to avoid getting anywhere near him.

It wasn't until I listened closer I realized he was working for a local business, yelling, “20% coupons for window shades! 20% off! Window shades! Get your coupons here!”

Painfully ineffective.

Today I'm in Union Square on the 20th floor. In the big white noise of the city, only one voice sticks out. For the last 3 days, someone has been yelling in the park for hours a day, barking the same high constant monotone pitch (an F that falls to a D at the end of each sentence.)

I assumed the person was just insane and yelling at ghosts, but after two days, I finally heard a few words: “Help feed the homeless!”

Aha! Not insane. Trying to help, but incredibly ineffective. Watching Union Square, I can see it's crowded everywhere except near the yelling man. People tend to stay away.

Then it made me think: How many of us do this?

Maybe our existing marketing wasn't getting the results we want, so we think if we just shout it louder, more people will hear?

But the downside is people start to avoid those types. Like the slimy guy always trying to sell insurance to friends at parties, pretty soon he doesn't get invited to parties anymore.

In London, I heard “barking” used as slang for “insane” (as short for “barking mad”, get it?)

When promoting, make sure you're not barking.

When things aren't working, think “smarter” not “louder”.

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