Your marketing piece isn’t worth a crap if it can’t interrupt. Face it, we’re all zombies stumbling around in a trance when it comes to advertising. Zombies wouldn’t notice 99% of the marketing messages they’re exposed to, unless that message happens to be some poor sap with a broken leg that his buddies left behind as lunch. Broken leg guy can successfully interrupt the zombies and get them out of their trance like state, get them to pay attention and notice him. Just like we’d all love our clever little ad in the newspaper to do.

So, how does that dude get noticed? First, we must put on our brain scientist caps and review a few key facts about our noodles. Our brains (and those of zombies) operate at different frequencies at different times. They are cleverly called alpha, beta, theta, and delta. Forget theta and delta, as you’re sleeping or passed out when those happen. Alpha waves happen when we are relaxed or dealing with things that are familiar, comfortable, habitual, or repetitive. Going through the motions without much if any conscious thought. Like washing your arm pits or tying your shoes. Now, we humans are in the big alpha state most of the time (says a lot about our repetitive lives). But, Beta kicks in when the brain is in high-alert status.

Here’s the deal. Zombies shuffle around all day in Alpha mode. Even though their brains are mostly fried from “the fever”, they still have some sort of crusty noodle up there, which operates in Alpha mode most of the time. Guess what? You operate the same way, even though you haven’t got the fever (at least we hope not). Alpha brain waves are what allow us to do many daily tasks without much thought. Driving to the mall, repetitive tasks at work, brushing your teeth. Not much conscious thought goes into those activities, they are familiar, so you just do them. All examples of hard working brains taking it easy in alpha mode. When your brain, or a zombie brain, is in alpha mode, it ignores most marketing messages as if they weren’t even there. Invisible. Unimportant. Uninterested.

Now, what you (and not broken leg guy) want are zombies in beta mode, assuming the zombies have some cash and are buying what you are selling. In beta mode, the brain is in a heightened state of awareness – on alert. In this state, your marketing gets noticed. But, how does one get a zombie, or get you, out of alpha mode? For the zombie, it’s easy. Leave the dude with the broken leg in the middle of the street. The blood, the yelling, the pathetic crawling all conspire to snap the zombie out of alpha mode and into beta, where it can hone in on lunch.

For you, it takes an interrupt. Something in a marketing piece that will slap you in the face and wake you the hell up. We see it all the time – some good, some that suck. Frogs selling beer, talking babies, lizards or cavemen, a hot chick in a car. Something that is really funny, really odd, really sexy, really shocking, really unfamiliar. Your noodle will snap to attention and say “hey dumb butt, those babies talking about trading stocks are damn funny”. You pay attention. This is where powerful headlines are so, so, so very important. Let me say that again, in Latin – headlines es damno maximus! Crystal clear?

Now, if you don’t give a care about on-line trading, the interruption becomes what the “super informed” call a false-beta. A false-beta is a dirty trick, a fake out played on your brain. So what does your brain do, once it knows it just got suckered? It utters profanity then it clicks right back into alpha mode. The next time you see the talking babies, it might get fooled again (yes, there are stupid brains out there) or it might not. The third, forth, tenth time – forget it. Brain’s not falling for that BS again.

But, if you actually had dreams of sitting around the house all day in your underwear trading stocks, the talking babies have successfully interrupted you. That’s the first step in effective marketing. Get your potential prospect out of alpha mode and into beta mode. Fail to do that, and you are producing marketing with invisible ink. No one will see it (except you – you’ve interrupted yourself, which sounds kind of dumb if you think about it). Do this successfully, and you have a good start on the road to selling whatever it is you sell. There are three more critical steps that follow, but without interruption, they really don’t matter (and we can talk about them later).

Broken leg guy would love to know what they are too, but I don’t think he’ll get past interruption!