We did not know finding an apartment in Boston would be such a competition. But as soon as we stepped into the apartment that called out to us as “the one,” the game was on. The white cabinetry, the red walls, the built-in bookshelves– we must sign.
A week before our trip out to Boston for our apartment hunt, I grew anxious that we would end up with a white-walled, sterile-looking but dirty hole-in-the-wall and over-priced apartment– rental agencies had told us not to bother calling them until the day before we arrived in Boston; it wouldn’t be worth it, they said. Apartments are going fast– as if I needed to be more tightly wound.
I peered through the beautiful window in the foyer between the stained glass windows (who would of thought that we could find an apartment with such charm?!); there was another couple standing outside chatting with the owners, waiting for us to exit, so they could view and most-likely, want to sign, too. Remain calm, I told myself while the chatter in my head was screaming: think of the cooking you can do, the writing you can do, the space for your yoga mat, a cozy living room for those winter days; if you don’t get this apartment, you’re not going to find another one like it, you know that. Remain calm, I repeated to myself.
We stepped outside, complete poise, and chatted with the owners. We are a couple: he is doing a post-doc at Tufts Medical Center; I am a writer/teacher/online marketer/ communications guru, the woman with four jobs because, let’s face it, the job market in Michigan is pretty awful. While my list of positions explains my versatility and range of experiences, I’m not quite sure it screams stability. I’m looking for employment, I explain. Marketing. Of course I want to explain that I have a graduate degree! I am reasonable! I am fiscally responsible! Not: um…I’m looking for employment. And then it hit me: Marketing.
Marketing is about positioning– poetic, artful, and straightforward, as Al Ries and Jack Trout explain in their book, (surprise), Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. Of course, I agree and disagree with their take on positioning in today’s world, but for the sake of this article, I’m going to agree with them. “To be creative, to create something that doesn’t already exist in the mind, is becoming more and more difficult. If not impossible.” This idea raises the question of creativity: is creativity something new? Or is it something that has been manipulated, tweaked, changed? Certainly, innovation calls for some kind of invention– a new way, a new style, a new perspective.
I’m most attached to the idea of a new perspective. In fact, that is the key to all creativity. How many action-packed thriller movies have you seen? You know, that guy who jumps from train car to train car, or the guy that leaps out of the exploding building in the nick of time…these scenes continue to be written into films, but we remain in front of the screen, latched securely into our seats, mesmerized by the (same) action. What changes is the context of the story and the perspective of the story. Perspective changes context; context changes perspective. We are always reconnecting what already exists in ways that create something new and engaging.
As the marketplace has changed, the traditional flashy billboards and glossy ads don’t always work to bring in the business. In fact, today’s world is far less responsive to all of that noise. Because we are a society of constant chatter, talk, whispers, howls, one sound will not rise above the jungle of noises. New marketing understands this havoc; the only way to be heard is to select who you’re talking to. In reaching out to any individual audience, you must consider perspective: where are they coming from? Do your research: hop on the web, google, twitter, facebook.
Positioning yourself for the client/audience/consumer– or rather, when positioning the pounce in the jungle– you must realize they have already been drenched in information and noise. Thus, any tactic you use must be refreshingly simple. While simplicity seems, well, simple, it’s actually one of the most challenging aspects of marketing within a business or within your own, personal lives.
George Orwell explains in his essay, Why I Write, that he writes to be political–not in the Joe-the-Plumber, ObamaCare kind of way– but rather in the Listen To Me Because I’m Interesting kind of way. The challenge of course is testing the language used to communicate that “simple” message: how do you capture the experience of your brand without losing any of it through language?
Had I not explained to the owners of this apartment that I had four jobs, perhaps that would have been seemingly more simple. “I am an online marketer.” Ta da! While it takes up less space, it’s less true and thus, less real and less intimate. Because the new market world is about conversation, and even the conversation that happening without you, it’s important to remain real.
We unpacked all of our boxes this weekend in the apartment that we somehow “won.” The owners, who live upstairs, asked us to join in on Saturday night’s dinner. They told us, you know, we received all kinds of offers for this apartment, including more money, but we chose you two because you were real.
Yes, that day on the sidewalk while we talked to the owners, wanting, somewhat desperately for them to want us as their renters, I told them I had four jobs in Ann Arbor; that I really love writing and marketing; that I loved the stained glass windows– how they reflect the warmth of the light. As I sit here in my new apartment, I think back on that day: their view from the inside and my view from the outside connected successfully.