Earlier this year I was reminiscing about old car crushes with a friend. You know what I mean, the car that looks like it would be great to have and drive, but it probably will never end up in your driveway. 

Back in the day when my minivan was scattered with Cheerios and Goldfish Crackers, I had my eye on the (then) new Ford Flex. Something about its boxy build reminded me of our metal Coleman ice chest we had growing up. Picnics and trips to the beach were all with the forest green Coleman, probably loaded with Shasta soda and a tub of macaroni salad. Good times! 

As I was recounting the Ford Flex it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen one in a very long time. “What happened to those? Didn’t Kerry have one?” 

Photo from Motor1.com

My friend didn’t think she’d seen one recently either. We surmised that perhaps they changed the body type, or they were quietly taken off the market. We weren’t really sure and the conversation moved on. 

The next week, while walking my dog through my neighborhood, a daily task, I spotted three Ford Flex vehicles parked on the curbs of a route we take regularly. THREE!! No new body type. Same resemblance to an old metal ice chest. I simply had not been looking for them for a very long time. As I drove that week I noticed them everywhere simply because now they were top of mind. I had become totally immune to them before that conversation, they had became invisible to me. (NOTE: Ford did stop making them in 2019.)

Are you becoming the wallpaper?

As a marketer, I think we have to take into consideration that people are not always paying attention to us and our regular drip of content. It becomes part of the background that they hardly notice any longer, like cars parked along a curb when you walk your dog, even if your product or service was once their hearts’ desire. How do you make sure you’re staying top of mind?

You have to shake it up every once in a while. 

If one of those Ford Flex’s in the neighborhood had a for sale sign in its window, a bright red sign next to the gun metal grey might have caught my attention. If someone was washing one of those vehicles at 7:30 a.m. that might also have caught my attention because it’s out of the ordinary to see. You have to stand out somehow or you need someone to direct your attention to them. 

Over the weekend I was talking to some friends who live in the neighborhood south of us. He realized that from some vantage points on their street you can see the San Gabriel Mountains 40 miles away. He began stopping people he met on their walks and pointing it out to them. Their immediate neighbors have all lived on the same street for more than 10 years, closer to 20, and had never once noticed before he showed them. 

Here are your take-aways if you find yourself in a promotional rut where you are not attracting anyone’s attention. 

  • Move things around. If you’re an insurance agent and you are always talking about a deal on auto insurance, this week at your networking meeting talk about insuring boats, life insurance, or umbrella policies, and you could pop open an umbrella when you talk, or put paper umbrellas in everyone’s water glass. 

  • Ask people to refer you. If one of your clients gives a testimonial at a networking event it does more for your reputation in the eyes of the 30-50 people in that room than any social media post that is available to thousands. Ask them to also leave a review on Google or Yelp which is specifically where people go to see reviews. by the way, if you enjoy reading my blog, I welcome your reviews on Google, simply click here.

  • Do unto others … If you want people to openly recognize and praise you, then pay it forward with your praise of the people you work with. It’s free to say thank you and to share a compliment. This way you have modeled how you expect to be treated, and demonstrated that you take care of the people you work with. 

I leave you with a video you might have seen a while ago.

We think we are paying attention and believe we are very observant, but this experiment may change all that for you.

Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She recently published Laws of Promotion. The 50-page promotional guide for small businesses and local nonprofits is available now on Amazon. Call her for help with your promotion. If you found this post helpful, please leave a note here and feel free to share it.