Quid Pro Quo? I don’t know…

One of my professors* loves to talk about “Noisy Nots.” What’s a “Noisy Not” you ask? It’s when what’s NOT being said is full of as much information as what IS being said.

I’ll give you an example:

I’ve been reading several articles about content marketing, and why it’s a rising trend. The authors mention how modern, successful marketing efforts offer their target consumers information that’s informative or entertaining (or both). That efforts like these portray a brand that cares about its customers and is trustworthy, and that this type of marketing leads to stronger brand loyalty.

This makes a lot of sense, what with all of the information available online, and the increasing amount of dialog between brands and consumers via social media sites, where tweets are frequently responded to by a member of a brand’s marketing staff.

But in all the talk about why content marketing is so important, there’s something not being said. A big ol’ Noisy Not, if you will. And that’s the idea that giving away something valuable for free creates a sense of indebtedness on the consumer’s end. If your marketing efforts give the reader useful information that they didn’t have to ask for, now when they think of your brand they remember that they received a favor and can pay it back by making a purchase, or (maybe just as good), endorse your brand via online sharing or good old-fashioned word of mouth kudos.

I’m guessing that pointing this out in the articles themselves might backfire, since obviously customers have access to these articles, and explicit statements like this work against the idea of trustworthiness. But is this something we all subconsciously understand and accept as consumers? Are these “Noisy Nots” not so noisy after all?

*P.S. The professor who introduced me to the idea of Noisy Nots blogs too! Check it out: What A Linguist Knows


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