How many selling messages are aimed at us each day? I found research from four organizations offering a pretty broad range:

OrganizationSelling messages / day
Consumer Reports247
Phoenix Business Journal600
Fordham University1,500
Newspaper Association of America3,000

Yowza. Even the low numbers are overwhelming. So of course we all go around with deflector shields up at all times. Who wants to weed through all that?

What’s interesting is when you’re the one who has something worthy of attention. How to go about it when everyone is trying to ignore what you have to say?

You can start by recognizing that there’s a qualitative difference between your message and all the messages your audience is trying to avoid. Most of the others have no relevance to them. Most are pushing something your target doesn’t need and doesn’t want, and usually doing it a stupid or ugly way.

Because the clutter is unworthy of their attention, you have a leg up: Your message has real value to the right people. You have something truly worthwhile, if you can get them to notice.

The first step is being honest about who are the right people. Who will appreciate your thing? Not what company or what organization. You need to seriously consider what person, when made aware of this, will stop and say, “Now that is something I can really use.”

Once you honestly know who is your real opportunity, you can develop a message to engage her or him, and set yourself above the other 599 or 1,499 or 2,999 messages that are less relevant. Relevance is the key: You have to focus your attention on the people to whom your solution will be most engaging.

These people still care nothing about everyone else trying to get their attention. But now you have something that makes you worthwhile: You have something relevant to their lives, and that’s worth paying attention to.

Next up: Custom Keyboard Commands for Keynote: A Designer's Guide