Unsubscribe from emails. Turn off notifications. Block out your schedule.

By any means necessary, reduce your intake of noise – not music or talking, crying babies or the constant hum of an airplane engine. I’m talking about tasks, thoughts, distractions and messages. Between personal noise (family matters, finances, friends, the news, etc.) and business disruptions (emails, requests, meetings and to-dos) most of us are overwhelmed with constant interruption.

It’s holding us back, we know it, and we don’t like it.

Unfortunately, those of us in business tend to be the worst about creating noise for the very people we’re trying to please – our clients. It happens in virtually every industry, including ours.

Promotional products themselves could hardly be considered noisy. They are noticed and hopefully appreciated, but almost never an annoyance or distraction.

It’s ironic that some of us still find a way to be a nuisance to our clients. Marketing can be noisy, but making more racket does not necessarily mean you are heard. In fact, the more commotion you generate may cause you to be tuned out completely. And when you’re making noise right alongside others making noise, the more likely a buyer is to put in their earplugs.

While cheap and fairly effective (when done well), email marketing is the noisiest and most abused medium of all. Too much email causes recipients to unsubscribe and miss all your messages – if their junk filter doesn’t block you first.

The same is true for social media and other forms of advertising. Too much (especially if not engaging) and users will tune you out, keep scrolling or unfollow altogether.

How many of us mute (if not skip altogether) TV commercial breaks as soon as they begin? Thanks a lot, Burger King, for getting “Whopper, Whopper, Whopper, Whopper” stuck in our heads. A noisy jingle is not a song. It is not music.

The question for any marketer is how to make music, not noise.

It starts with targeting your messages to the right audiences and reducing the frequency of messages, especially generic messages. Evaluate campaigns to ensure you have segmented the audience effectively.

For example, PPAI may send a single mass email promoting our big June events, the North American Leadership Conference and Women’s Leadership Conference, to all members. We’ll then focus our efforts on previous attendees and those who fit the target market (women for WLC and typical leader titles for NALC). We’ll supplement with direct mail to those most likely to have interest, but without overwhelming them. And we’ll mix in display advertising and social media – hopefully just enough that the message is heard but doesn’t become noisy. We miss a few people this way, but in the long term, we keep people reading what we send.

Of course, we also offer promotional products to our most loyal audience members, including event attendees, so NALC or WLC stay top of mind long after the events are over. Promo is music.

In addition to reducing your incoming noise, I challenge you to reduce the noise that you and your clients generate.