Why does everyone seem to hate the concept of selling? Everyone is doing it, yet so few actually do it well.

Sales guru Grant Cardone said all humans are in a constant state of selling. We sell ourselves to friends, hoping they’ll like us. We sell ourselves to potential romantic partners, hoping they’ll choose us. We sell our work to our boss to get the promotion. We even throw a mental sales pitch to ourselves to decide what we should choose for dinner. On and on, “sales” is not just for the professionals. Whether we realize it or not, everything in life is just a constant series of selling and buying. So why does the word “sales” make us squirm and want to run for the hills?

We fear the thought of sales mainly because we fear failure. But interestingly, because everyone else strikes out much more often than not, it makes us more comfortable that we do, too. We all expect ourselves to be the guy with the cheesy pickup line who gets laughed out of the bar, not 007 sweeping girls off their feet. We’re all very aware of what sales look like when done badly, but a good, smooth, effective sales pitch is a rarity that seems out of reach to most. It’s not — and actually, the more your prospects experience sales done badly, the easier it is for you to knock it out of the park. As Hudson, Ink’s founder, Adams Hudson, used to say, “All this bad marketing everywhere helps the good marketing shine.”

Rule number one: You can’t sell anything to someone who isn’t paying attention. Most advertising fails because it’s expected and boring, lulling the audience to sleep. The majority of company advertisements are the equivalent of the same tired pickup lines a girl has heard from every desperate guy who’s approached her, used over and over to the point of cliché. They’re safe, repetitive, and easily dismissed.

According to adalytics.com, the average American is hit with between 6,000 and 10,000 advertising solicitations per day, and only about five per day are noticed at all — that’s a whopping 0.0006%. When a prospect sees an ad where there’s no unexpected spin, mystique, or intrigue to draw them to look closer, it’s subliminally defaulted to the mental file marked “not worth my time.”

How do you differentiate to get your ads noticed and draw a reaction? Here are a couple of tips.

Interrupt the Pattern: Have you ever been sitting in the living room looking at your phone or reading with the TV going in the background? You haven’t looked at the TV in over an hour and have no idea what show is even on, but then suddenly things go quiet. What do you do? I can almost guarantee you’d look up to see why the sound stopped. Now think of all the commercials that played and all the different things they said while you were looking down, completely oblivious. Before the TV was just white noise in the background, but when the noise stopped, you took notice.

There are some commercials designed intentionally with lower volume or no sound at all just to make you look up. This is called a pattern interrupt, and it’s a marketing technique where something is done to jolt the audience out of their normal routine and make them take notice. Our minds are busy processing so much at any given moment that it takes something unexpected in advertising to wake it up from sleep mode.

Think about the number of billboards and signs you pass in an average day. How many commercials do you hear? How many do you actually notice, and how many are just background noise for your commute? Ask yourself why some stood out, and I can almost guarantee it wasn’t because they looked or sounded like all the others. The commercial that used real humor, the sign that was purposefully printed upside down, or the one who took an edgy risk will get the most eyes and responses.

Don’t tip your hand immediately: If I asked you to imagine an average contractor ad, what comes to mind? Probably a photo of some equipment with a spotless technician (who looks like he’s never worked a day in his life) standing next to it, a stock image of a smiling family, some annoyingly big starbursts offering “$X OFF!” and as many random specials as can be crammed onto one postcard. If we can immediately recognize the cookie-cutter style most of the industry promotes with, how much quicker do our target homeowners turn up their noses? Remember, when a prospect sees your ad, most don’t think they have a need for a contractor. It’s the job of your advertisement’s copy to convince them otherwise. However, if they see your piece and immediately cross it off as boring and unnecessary, you won’t ever get that chance.

Here’s the alternative: Don’t reveal what you’re selling immediately. In a world of microscopic attention spans, that might sound counterintuitive, but remember to use the unexpected. Picture a homeowner sorting their mail and weeding out everything quickly identifiable as a new credit card offer or unwanted coupon, bound straight for the trash. Then they see a card that gives them pause. Maybe this one is larger than the rest with appealing graphics, but they don’t know instantly what it’s trying to sell. While they take a second or two just to figure out what this is and why this piece is even in their mailbox, you’ve got their attention, and good copy should take over to lead them to the pitch.

It’s the same with your social and email marketing — a good and interesting headline with a link to read the rest of the article (where you can work up to a sales pitch and build reasons they should respond) removes distractions and will outperform a hard sales email or up-front Facebook ad hands-down. The difference is that by not letting the prospect say “no” before they even see your offer, you are now given the shot to actually sell to them.

There are millions of creative ideas out there to set your business apart, so why does everyone seem to look the same? Well, setting yourself apart takes risk and creativity that most are not willing to invest the time and energy into. But if you want to wake up your service area, see more success, and get people to start taking notice of you, you’ve got to implement some strategies and differentiate yourself to become more than white noise.