Microsoft conducted a widely publicized study a few years ago that concluded the average American’s attention span is only 8 seconds — less than that of a goldfish.
The idea that no one can focus anymore has made its way into all areas of business and life, from 140 character tweets to the idea that no one will read long-copy sales letters or watch a video on their computer longer than five minutes.
The truth is, we don’t have a problem with attention spans, we just have numerous options to choose from now.
Think about it, when television first came out, people only had a handful of channels to watch. If you didn’t like what was on, you had two additional choices. Now, there are hundreds of channels, plus options like DVR, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, etc.
Viewers now have the option to simply change the channel, if they’re not satisfied with what’s on. The odds of viewers finding something to satisfy them are high, but it also means that channels have a very short period of time to get a viewer’s attention or they’re off to the next option.
Because of infinite channels, marketing has also changed. Years ago, if marketing didn’t get a good response with their first pieces, any additional follow-up was unlikely to yield additional results. Today, due to the difficulty in capturing someone’s attention, you may not get a response unless you follow up. This requires a much larger and more complicated campaign to break through the noise.
How to Capture a Person’s Attention
First of all, if you attempt to start talking about the latest scientific report, you’re done. Boring does not work.
A combination of offline and online marketing works the best. If we generate a lead online, we want to bring them offline ASAP. If that lead is generated offline, we want to connect and bring them online immediately. We want the prospect to get our message across platforms.
Now comes buying. Getting someone to buy from you the first time is one of the single most expensive things any business does. But once someone decides to trust you — once they determine that if they give you their hard-earned money, you will not rip them off — it is so much easier to get them to simply continue to shop with you over and over again. All you have to do is do what you say you’re going to do and remind them who you are, what you do and that you’re still in business.
Costco is a great example of this. It may not be easy to convince someone to pay to shop in their stores, but once someone does join, they’re rewarded with good pricing, exclusive deals, a nearly unlimited return policy and a risk-free guarantee on the membership. They’ll also receive a magazine from Costco once per month (in the mail) with articles and items their customers may want to buy. This magazine serves to entertain, educate, and sell me on new products or services they offer.
The more time a person gives you, your media and your products or services, the greater influence you have with them. If you want to sell more tomorrow, remember that consumers have an infinite number of channels to choose from. It is your job to entertain them, educate them and capture their attention long enough to sell to them.