Here’s something to try and wrap your mind around: people who were alive 50 years ago saw fewer ads in their entire lifetime than we do in one year. That’s a statistic from Direct Marketing News Magazine — Published in 1997. And while no one can seem to really uncover the exact statistic, most experts agree that we see a minimum of 3,000 ads per day. If I asked you to write down all of the messages you remember seeing today, odds are you wouldn’t come up with anywhere close to 3,000.

This little exercise is indicative of the clutter present in our world and minds. It also shows just how difficult it is becoming for marketers and advertisers to truly deliver messages that resonate with us.

As our exposure to ads is constantly increasing, our ability to tune them out is becoming more impressive as well. We disregard ads on both a conscious and unconscious level. Consciously, we DVR shows and skip through commercials. Or, my favorite — we now pay premium membership fees on media sometimes for no other reason than to avoid advertising. On an unconscious level, our minds have literally adapted the ability to block out ads. The best example of this is so called “Banner Blindness.” Consider all of the websites you visit in a day. You surely know that there are ads on the page, and could probably even tell me where they are located. But could you tell me what they are advertising? Our minds become accustomed to the presence of these ads, evaluates them as unimportant, and skips directly over them.

I don’t say all of this to scare you away from advertising, but rather to impress upon you the massive amount of messages we are all confronted with daily.

Well established and well funded companies will continue to try and outspend and outshout one another. And with successful (and expensive) research, testing, and revisions, traditional marketing can still be extremely effective. However, for small businesses, traditional marketing is beginning to show fewer returns, specifically for companies that market themselves rather than hiring an agency.

So, if you can’t market your small business successfully through the traditional marketing channels, what’s left? Think of it this way: our society is becoming more and more “on demand.” While we used to have our schedule set for us via the TV Guide and radio program, we can now access content as we wish. Audience based and content marketing are developed with the on demand lifestyle in mind. No longer is your audience held captive by cliff hanging scenes of The O.C. In order to have your message reach someone, it must now be worth pursuing.

One surefire way to cut through the clutter is to provide an “advertisement” or message that contains value. It’s no longer enough to simply lay a valuable product or service at the feet of customers. The way it is presented must now contain value in itself. The first step in this process is to consider your target audience and the things that they are interested in or need help resolving. Crafting messages about these subjects and developing your expertise in them is perhaps the best way to cut through advertising clutter. When your target audience is genuinely interested in what you have to say, they will pursue your messages and ignore the competition.

Anna DiTommaso
Founder of Creative80, Anna DiTommaso built the company from the ground up and believes that the key to her success has been cultivating real, meaningful relationships with clients. Anna has appeared in articles on Lifehack, Mashable, Ragan, CEO blog nation, and Business News Daily.