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Are You Grabbing Enough Attention?

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For many years, marketers have followed the idea that “Content is King”. But that has meant more and more content has been created, leaving consumers drowning in a sea of choice, physically unable to absorb more than a small percentage of what is on offer.

For anyone doing marketing, we need to react to that. It’s not enough anymore just to have good content. In our modern day world, you need to demand attention.

In 1971, economist and Nobel laureate Herbert A. Simon first coined the term “attention economy”. He talked about a “bottleneck of human thought” and how “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention”.

This was two decades before the internet was a thing, but he recognised how, as humans, we can only take on so much.

I am hearing far more about how we’re living in an attention economy today, and it’s clear to see why. If things were busy in 1971, they’re absolutely manic now. Much of the science behind how we absorb content can be understood through behavioural economics, which looks at how humans strive to conserve the brain’s energy by making quick and emotional decisions wherever possible.

For marketing success, you need good creative, but you need to understand the scientific reasoning as to why it works as well.

Marketing is Hard

I think marketing is getting harder and harder. I still love it, don’t get me wrong, but with every passing year I think it’s becoming more complex as a profession, and these are the reasons why:

  • There are increasingly more competitors to stack up against for every industry
  • It’s becoming more difficult to stand out
  • There is far too much content, so you need to find more innovative ways to market
  • The tech is changing too rapidly
  • There is far, far, far too much bad advice given out about marketing from people who simply don’t know what they’re talking about, and this muddies the water

I’ve heard many small business owners tell me about how they’re trying to educate their market. Whether it’s through blogs, video content, newsletters, emails or podcasts, they’ve got this idea from somewhere that they need to educate their market on what they do.

Whatever their reasoning may be, I’ve always found it bizarre that so many people seem to think this task should be at the epicentre of their marketing activity. They seem to believe this is the answer to success.

I’m not saying there’s never a need to educate your market. But it isn’t as straight forward as I find many people seem to believe.


The problem with placing so much emphasis on an idea like educating your market is that you’re starting off too far down the marketing funnel.

In business, we always work with people and companies that we know and trust. We want peace of mind that we’re in safe hands.

Now, you might argue that you build that knowledge and trust through good educational marketing and content. But the problem is, how do you get people to listen?

  • They might already know someone who offers what you offer, so why listen to you?
  • They might not realise they have a need for what you offer, so why listen to you?
  • Six of your competitors are saying pretty much the same thing, so why listen to you?
  • They don’t have time to read your wonderful content or listen to your amazing video, so they won’t listen to you
  • They met you at a networking event, and you’ve added them to your email list, but they met 20 other people that day who all did the same thing, so it’s all a blur and they’re not really listening to you
  • When they do need what you offer, they ask their friend for a recommendation, so they haven’t listened to you

You might have really great things to say, but those who put education at the heart of their marketing are focusing on getting people to understand them. When was the last time you focused on getting people to listen to you?

Stand Out

We make emotional decisions before logical ones. Our heart reacts well before our head does. If you want people to listen, you have to make them feel something before you make them think about anything.

This is scientifically how we work as humans.

If you want to stand out, you need to make people laugh, shock them, scare them, warm their hearts or take them by surprise. You need to make them feel something, and they will start to take notice.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking your cute dog picture will do the trick. It has to be related to your business. You need to find a way to demonstrate what you do and what you can do for your customers in a completely emotional way, and then quickly follow that up with some logical information.

This is how you grab attention.

Think about your favourite advert of all time. Do you remember it because of the information it gave you, or do you remember it because of how it made you feel?

This is how you pack the top of your funnel. This is how you get people to start listening to you. Then you can start to share your wonderful content.

It’s not instant, and it takes careful consideration. But those who do it well, always reap the rewards. If you need any help, always feel free to get in touch with us at Lindsay Woodward Marketing.

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