Every day thousands of people attempt to influence your mind. There is advertising in newspapers and magazines, on the radio and television–15 minutes of advertising for each hour of prime time TV. There are signs on businesses, buses, trucks, sandwich boards, lawns, bumper stickers and billboards. Advertisements come in our mail, our email, and on our phones. It is ubiquitous on the internet. There are logos on our clothing, our food, our cars, and virtually every other product we use.
It is estimated that by the time an adult reaches the age of 65 they will have viewed over 2 million ads. And all of these messages have one thing in common: they advocate for someone else’s agenda. Many of them have been carefully developed and tested for their maximum power to persuade us. I think most of us believe we’re too smart and cool to be affected by all of that advertising, but I wonder if the opposite might be true–that a lifetime of receiving advertising messages may have tuned us to be exquisite receptors of their influence. Over 2 million ads in a lifetime! Who is that resistant?
Advertise to yourself
I have found it to be very hard to maintain a consistent focus on my own priorities when so many other interests are competing for my attention. Sometimes as I move through the world I feel like a small tasty creature at the bottom of the food chain – everything wants a bite of my mind!
Several years ago I began to wonder if there might be a way I could turn around all of the effort advertisers have put into conditioning me to be receptive to their marketing and use that training to my advantage. What would happen if I could control even a few of the messages I receive every day? What if there was a way I could insert advertisements to myself into my environment?
I have been actively experimenting with that concept for the last few months, using myself as a lab rat. Since I wasn’t sure what would work, I have tried a lot of different things. I’m a geek at heart, so I’m especially interested in exploring ways to use personal technology to accomplish this goal. But some of my campaigns have used technology as simple as a sticky note on the bathroom mirror. When I really got how ubiquitous commercial advertising is and set about employing similar strategies I started seeing opportunities to embed my messages everywhere
I have varied the kinds of objectives I advertise for. So far it seems to be most effective to remind myself to take action about things I actually want to do. Getting myself to do things I should do but don’t want to doesn’t seem to work as well, but I’m still trying.
My marketing strategies have been pretty simple: just think of ways to get the idea in front of myself. However I’m learning more about advertising to see if employing more sophisticated strategies will work better. I’m borrowing from other behavior change technologies as well, such as NLP. Basically, any strategy that people have invented to alter the mindset of other humans is interesting to experiment with.
You are invited
The process of advertising to myself has been been fascinating and powerful so far. I have shared the idea with a handful of other people and have seen great results for them too. I plan to keep exploring and inventing ways to insert messages to myself into the media stream around me, and to teach others how to do it too. Take Back Your Brain! is here to chronicle that process. I hope you will find it valuable to join us.