Did you know that cat’s eyes (the reflective road safety devices illuminated by headlights on modern roads) – owes its existence to marketing? In 1927, Richard Hollins Murray patented reflective glass beads for advertising signs and road signage. In 1934, Percy Shaw based his cat’s eyes on Murray’s reflective beads and in so doing, gives us a metaphor for a fundamental law of marketing – the more visibility you have, the more business you will do.

Unfortunately, achieving market visibility is a bit more complicated than reflecting back a car’s headlights — particularly in an era of deafening marketing noise (according to Adobe, more than 1.8 billion marketing messages are created every single day). As Seth Godin so eloquently puts it, “You’re either a Purple Cow or you’re not. You’re either remarkable or invisible. Make your choice”.

Ironically, one way to stand out and achieve more market visibility is to go with the flow rather than against it. Doesn’t sound very purple cow, does it?

To go with the flow and achieve greater visibility with your marketing, insert yourself into a topical conversation.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s trending?
  • What’s everybody talking about around the water cooler?
  • What trends, news and topics is the media picking up on?
  • How is it relevant to your business, brand or area of expertise?

For example, a few years ago I met a woman who trained humans in how to behave around dogs. Her market was anybody that needed to enter private property in the course of their work, and included posties, real estate agents, meter readers, contractors (and Jehovah’s Witnesses?). People who were likely to be confronted by a strange dog would benefit from learning how to behave around a strange dog and what signs to look for to avoid getting attacked.

It’s a fascinating story and highly relevant and you’d think people would be tripping over themselves to find out more, but that wasn’t the case until — you guessed it – a teenager visiting family was attacked by their pet dog. Suddenly, what she had to say was big news. Everybody was talking about it, and that’s the key.

Ask yourself:

  • What is everybody talking about that is relevant to your business, product, brand or service?
  • How can you insert yourself into the conversation (offering comment following a media article on the subject is one tactic)?

It’s a bit like a cat’s eyes really. To stand out, you need to watch for opportunities when a topic of relevance suddenly finds itself in the headlights of media and marketing attention – and then grab some of the limelight.


Colin Kennedy – Director of Strategy and Content
M: +64 27 245 6060