The Magic of Awareness

“Awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over:
“This is water.”
“This is water.”
It is unimaginably hard to do this.”

-David Foster Wallace

Have you ever listened to “This is Water” by David Foster Wallace?

Its… raw.

It jolted me across an entire spectrum of the human condition, and had emotions pulled out of me that I’d long forgotten about.

You can file speeches like that under the “shake your foundations” category.

It made me think. About awareness. And marketing.

It’s true that the more we do anything, especially simple things, the more we lose the ability to see them, and that the most obvious and important ones are hardest to see and talk about.

Which causes us to miss out on the magic of reality right in front of our noses!

Pieces like this help us to focus and be aware of what’s going on. You will know exactly what he’s talking about if you have ever…

…cried laughing at Peter Kay’s observational comedy.

…become aware of life’s subtleties viewing Leonardo da Vinci’s work.

…watched a movie by Andrei Tarkovsky.

Those three gems – and experiences like taking your first crisp breath of winter air – can highlight the magic of the human condition. They were created by masters, who knew exactly how to direct our attention to the important things yet unseen.

Why is this important to you and your marketing?

All the great marketers I know are hyper-sensitive to self-knowledge and awareness of a customer’s circumstances. Just like Derren Brown reading your mind, it’s scary how good they are at doing this.

They aren’t walking around like the buddha, but their ability to notice the unsung details that really matter is uncanny.

In real life, we experience things through our senses. And knowing what’s important to these senses is part of any breakthroughs DNA.

I’d go as far to say you can’t be a great marketer without awareness of this – without understanding, personally, what it’s like to understand the subtleties of why your customers do what they do.

The ability to be aware of your customer gives you direct access into the most appealing angles, emotions and positioning of your marketing.

If awareness gets blinded… from distractions, or egocentric views… you will struggle to get into another person’s head.

And you’ll likely miss the big ideas that give you a license to scale up fast.

You don’t need to be the Buddha.

But it helps to get outside of your own head. Embrace the ordinary, how we act in the world and highlight the things that matter.

There is a HUGE opportunity for every marketer who gets comfortable with awareness (and especially emotion), and knows how to use it to find out what people really value.

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