Definition of Noise in Marketing

What is the Meaning of NOISE in Marketing?


Depending on where you look, not only does the definition change drastically, but some definitions are just confusing. So what, simply put, does “Noise” mean in the marketing world?  Let’s have a look…



definition of noise in marketing

Noise (Noun): Confusion caused by too many messages trying to be delivered at one time. 

This is my favorite definition of Noise as it tells you what your public will do if they experience it – get confused. You know what the product of confusion is? NOTHING. They don’t do anything, they cannot choose, so choose to do nothing…not what you want.

This word originates from Latin, “nausea, seasickness.” – this is the opposite effect of what we want our customers to experience.


Understanding Noise

I’ve always viewed noise as anything that gets in the way of someone receiving the message I’m trying to get across in my marketing campaigns.  You can see then that competing with or  “blending in” with your competitor’s messages is doomed and your message will be ignored.

In the early 90’s, you could write an ad with the words “cutting edge” regarding a new medical procedure you were offering.  “Cutting edge huh?” they would say. And you’d say, “Yep! Now sign on the dotted line.” Boom – deal. Then, a year or so later, all of your competitors were saying “come in for our cutting edge new service!”  Now everyone is getting a piece of your pie.   As more time passes and more people use that phrase, the public become numb to anything stated as “cutting edge” altogether and unfortunately some of your competitors were less than “cutting edge” and now the public KNOWS none of you are cutting edge and they’ve heard it all before.



How Do You Break Through the Noise?

1. Impinge.  Hit ’em. Make it fast. Hard. Break through. Get noticed. Create an Effect. No one breaks through the noise with conservative, agreeable messages.

2.  They will only do what YOU want if you know what THEY want.  Never assume you know it already. Look at text-message marketing which was supposed to be the “next big thing” for the marketing world 10 years ago.  Millions and millions of Venture Capitalist’s dollars pouring into these start-ups doing text-marketing. Lo and behold, they soon find out no one wanted to get texts on their mobile phones with ads in them.  Some simple customer research well done and intelligently executed could have saved a fortune.

Now, what if you have a new product that people don’t know they want? You of course enlighten them on how it helps them with some problem that they know they have.  Microwaves: ovens were great, but as the world moved faster, Mom’s needed to cook a meal in minutes – fast food was needed. The problem already existed, they did not have the solution though.  It’s your job to find out what they actually NEED,  rather than what you think they need. A little surveying goes a long way.

3.  Always communicate a SPECIFIC REALITY.  Your customers like what you do and refer others to you…but why? Is your service incredible? Why? Don’t make vanilla statements and throw in a few buzzwords to sound “professional.”  A car dealership has lots of cars to sell so tells the public, “largest inventory in Illinois!” (vanilla) Who cares? You already know the car you want before you even go to a car dealership.  So for you to listen, you need a campaign saying,  “Best selection of Mustangs (or whatever)” – a specific reality to a specific public. The “public” doesn’t buy generalities.

Communicate a specific reality to a specific public and don’t underestimate the general public’s intelligence. In the digital age, they are moving very quickly and most can tell a tall tale from a mile away, which brings me to my next point:

4. Have Integrity. If you don’t like your product or service and can’t stand behind it, then you certainly shouldn’t be selling it let alone marketing it. How does this relate to getting through noise? Well, let’s look at a used car sales man. We’ve all met them. Painful is the word. They’re cheesy, sometimes slimy, but why? Most people in the world are good people – including them. So why do they come off slimy? They are selling something they know to be sub-par, their personal integrity it out. But it’s their job, their manager will beat them to get sales and they need to eat too. In their head they’re thinking, “this may not be the best car for my customer, but I have to keep my job and I have bills to pay so I’d better sell it to them anyways.”  I never market anything I can’t get behind. This allows me to really pierce through the noise. I have no backoff on selling something I can stand behind. If you do, it’s hard to pierce through the massive amount of noise we all live with today.



Dan York, Founder 

Stellar-eMarketing, LLC

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