Why there’s no such thing as neutral.

Neutral is negativeThe problem with neutral messages (ignored by your audience) is that they aren’t actually neutral.

Every time we interrupt someone’s day with our message we are asking for permission. Permission to get inside their head and prove that we have something to offer them.

Too many times we fail to offer anything of value. And each time we fail, we don’t just get another free go. We lose some, if not all, of the influence we once had.

It could be that our target is too big (not targeted) or, more likely, the idea sucks.

When I watch a mediocre TV ad, I not only ignore it’s message, I actively detest the brand forever. “What a waste of time,” I think to myself.

Your audience does the same. Whenever we interrupt a colleague with useless news or complain about trivial frustrations we lose the permission to do it next time and the opportunity is lost.

Communication is not a right, it’s a privilege we can’t afford to waste.


  1. Alex Pinnock says:

    Hello Sean

    I only came across your blog today though LinkedIn but I agree with you 100%. Unless an advertisement is of some interest or relevance to the audience it becomes an annoyance, this is especially true with media like television or radio where there is a clear interruption.

    I pay $12 a month so that I don’t have to listen to or watch commercials on Spotify. I pay for premium versions of websites such as the AFR and The Australian so that I don’t have to put up with commercials (though even they are sneaking their way in somehow).

    It’s surprising that so many online based services do not offer a paid subscription option and probably goes to show that there is much more money to be made in data collection which can be sold on to advertisers than there is to charge the user $X per month.

    Keep up the blog, I’ll keep reading.

    Alex Pinnock

    1. Sean Blake says:

      Thanks for reading Alex. I agree that it’s hard for services like online newspapers to earn revenue without delivering ads when most of their users crave an ad-free experience and are willing to pay for it.

      The world has changed and we are so good at recognising when someone is trying to sell us something that the message has to be spot on, or else they risk turning us off forever.

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