How to Get Attention in a World that Suffers from Attention-Deficit Disorder

How to Get Attention in a World that Suffers from Attention-Deficit Disorder

The world is suffering from a chronic case of attention-deficit disorder. Everybody is screaming for attention, but very few get it.

In order to make a sale, you must first convince your prospects and/or customers to give you their attention. But attention – yours, mine, and the rest of the world’s – is becoming increasingly scrarce. Why is is so hard to get attention these days?

  • Paradox of choice. Prospects and customers have never had so many choices for solving the problem they have or getting the solution they need. Too much choice leads to to additional analysis and paralysis. And for you that means lost sales.
  • Lack of focus. Being connected 24/7 leads to a condition called continous partial attention that occurs when you are trying to pay attention to everything at the same time.
  • Advertising pollution. The attempt by advertising to fill any blank space with persuasive messages to get you to buy their product has caused us to evolve defenses against ad clutter. We simply block it out.
  • Technology. Continual advancements in computers, phones, electronics, software drains our attention more and more and we try to keep up.
  • Information overload. Even though we are already overwhelmed, buried in information and deafened by all the voices pleading for our attention, and are alreadu unable to discern what’s valuable and what’s a waste… more and more information is being produced daily.
  • Interruption overload. The constant barrage of interruptions – phone calls and text messages … e-mails, instant messages, social networking sites like Facebook – it all drains our energy, blurs our focus and blocks our ability to stay in a flow state.

Attention has become the scarce resource of the information economy. This is critical to understand for any entrepreneur. If you figure out how to get attention in today’s world, you will be the winner. If you’re not even aware that there is such a battle for attention, you will be clueless as to why your business is not picking up.

Average supermarket has 45 000 products, internet has over 500 million websites with billions of pages. Every day hundreds of thousands of pieces of new information become available – each one demanding attention. So to conclude:

  • Attention has tremendous value
  • Attention is hard to get, especially online
  • As the days pass, its gets harder and harder to get attention

Before deciding whom to give attention, people decide whom not to give attention. In the top of the list – you. The fact is, people don’t like marketers. Nobody wants to give you attention so you could sell them something. People don’t trust marketers. They’re not gonna waste their time and attention in you.

  • Only 14% of people trust ads
  • 69% of people want ad blocking technologies
  • 65% of consumers feel they are constantly bombarded with too much advertising
  • 56% of consumers avoid buying products from companies who advertise too much

So whom do they pay attention to? Nielsen Online Global Consumers Study looked into this and found the following:

  • 78% trust recommendations from other consumers
  • 63% newspaper articles
  • 61% consumer opinions posted online
  • 60% brand websites
  • 56% television
  • 56% magazines
  • 54% radio
  • 49% emails they signed up for
  • 38% ads before movies
  • 34% search engine ads
  • 26% online banner ads

So if people don’t trust marketers, and trust their friends – you should become one.

Let’s say your car is making funny sounds, and since you don’t know much about fixing a car yourself, you take it to a close by repair shop. The guys there examine the car, and tell you that in order to get it running properly again you need to get this and that fixed, replace all these parts, and a bunch of other stuff. And it’s gonna cost this astronomical amount of money.

Now you might believe them, but you don’t trust them. What if they’re just trying to screw you over? Or maybe they don’t know that much about your model of car and diagnosed it wrong? There’s a good chance you will take your car elsewhere and get a second opinion.

Now let’s turn this story over. Your car makes funny sounds and you happen to know of a guy that knows a good deal about cars. You’ve known him for quite some time, he has helped you many times before, and he has your trust. He has fixed cars of your friends, and everybody is happy with him.

Now when he would tell you that you need to replace this and that in your car to keep it going, you would listen, right? If he would advise to start using a different brand of oil, you would take note of it. You would be candid about your fears and concerns. You would ask for his advice with regards to keeping your car in good shape.

Instead of avoiding his phone calls, you would listen to what he had to say if he would call you.

My point: You will find it is very hard to sell your products until you’ve built a bridge of trust.

But once you do, you will no longer be an annoying salesman to your prospects, but a partner, an advisor. And when you build this bridge of trust with thousands, tens of thousands and so on… you will achieve anything you want.

When a community trusts you, your marketing efforts suddenly become very very easy. So this means that your goal as a marketer should become a trusted advisor to your clients and prospects: somebody they can rely on when they need help with whatever it is you’re doing.

Let’s repeat:

  • Attention is worth more than money
  • Your prospects give their attention to people they trust
  • They don’t trust marketers
  • They trust people who have demonstrated that they are here to help.

Piggy-backing attention

One of ways to get attention is to associate yourself with people who already have attention – celebrities. There are popculture celebrities, and then there are celebrities in different niches and business sectors.

Think about your market. Ask yourself, „Who’s getting the most attention now?“ Then ask yourself, „How can I gain access to that person and make them an offer they cannot refuse?“

Make a list of 5 to 10 people in your market that are well-known.

Become an authority

Anyone can capture attention once – especially when you offer something of value for free online. But if you want to build a thriving business, you’re going to have to get attention, and have members of your market give you their attention consistently.

Of course, that’s no small task. People aren’t exactly waiting to attention to somebody. Even so, there are always attention-grabbers, people who are listened to when they speak. Authorities, experts, leaders, gurus. Recognized people in their field that people credit with a deep understanding of the overall market, the needs of its customers, and the key trends that will affect the overall market.

Usually these people are often referenced in their own industry, and they have many incoming links to their websites. Every now and then they introduce new big ideas that get embraced by their marketplace. People trust them.

When Robin Sharma is saying something about self-improvement and leading without a title, people listen. When Seth Godin is talking about marketing, people pay attention. When media wants to talk to somebody about startups and entrepreneurship, they might ask Guy Kawasaki.

I bet you know what this all means. The best way to get people’s attention and earn their trust continously is to become an authority in your field.

The benefits of being considered an authority include:

  • You’re recognized as an expert in your niche – so your products will immediately have a higher perceived value than competitors, you get more referral traffic, and prospects search you out online.
  • You enjoy greater reach in your market which means your readership, site visitors, and your overall audience grows geometrically because you are providing them with relevant information about their market, niche, industry.
  • You acquire new clients more easily because prospects are presold by your reptuation and the recommendations of others
  • You get more desirable clients because the top tier clients in any market seek out the experts in their market to associate with and get advice from.
  • You get invitations to speak and give keynote presentations because you’re seen as someone who’s more important and has opinions that matter.
  • You get continual interview requests from fellow influencers, media, and other members of your market, with each one reinforcing your position as the go-to guy in your marketplace.
  • You get shorter sales cycles because of the increase in trust removes on of the biggest bottlenecks to making a sale –  credibility.
  • You get more incoming links to your site from relevant sites in your niche imporving your search engine ranking, your targeted traffic and your overall influence in your market
  • You capitalize on more peer-to-peer word of mouth recommendations because authorities dominate the playing field when it comes to beginners who need information about your topic.

And I don’t have to get into details what it will do to your profits: more profits, more new customers, more sales to each customer, more income.

So how to become an authority in your niche?

It all starts with the mentality of generosity. It requires generosity of one’s time, intelligence, knowledge and ideas. It requires a trust that by being open with what you know – and by sharing your knowledge and ideas – the world will reward your efforts.

You won’t have a following until the market trusts you. The more you’re willing to trust the market, the more your market will trust you.

General blueprint of how one can become an authority in his/her field:

1. Choose an area you are passionate about

Nothing will work if you don’t have passion for what you’re doing. If you aren’t passionate about your topic, it will show. You cannot commit to becoming an authority in a field you have no interest in as in order to be ahead of the game you need to devour everything there is to learn about your field.

2. Commit to lifelong learning

The only way to stay on the forefront of your market is to study all the time. Especially if your field is changing as fast as internet marketing. The dangerous thing to do is to feel you know it all, whereas you should be a lifelong student instead. This is the only way to share your knowledge with the world and be able to truly help people.

3. Be ready to be controversial

Contrarian advice is always a great attention-getter. By being immersed in your field, reading a lot and practicing, you will probably get insights into your industry that nobody else does. Be ready to share your views, but be ready to defend them as new approaches always create resistance.

4. Work hard to create world class content

Your knowledge – your reports, blog posts, articles, videos etc – is your advertising. If it fails to live up to its promise, if it’s poorly written, if it doesn’t provide true value – it will not make people talk about it and you fail to build up your reputation.

5. Speak and write for free to establish yourself

Spreading your knowledge is the only way to let other people know you’re smart. Produce a lot of content, and make it available for free.

  • Contact newspapers and magazines in your niche, and offer to write value adding articles. When contacting editors (see before who is the editor of the column/page you want to be published on) let them know the topic of the article(s) you want to write about and a brief outline of the content. Almost every time I have done it, they happily accept.
  • Make your thoughts, tips and insights available in every possible format. Some people prefer to read, some prefer audio and quite few want to watch videos. Your job is to make sure people get access to your information via their preferred medium.
  • See what conferences and seminars are coming up on your topic. Write the conference manager with a proposal to speak at that seminar/conference free of charge. When contacting them, make sure you mention your core expertise and what value you can add to the event.
  • Write free reports and make them available on your website, and upload to other websites where possible
  • Blog! Blog like your life depended on it.Your blog is your best tool to build relationships and to talk to your current and future customers.
  • Offer to help – free of cost. Start a coaching/mentorship program and establish connections with other rising stars.

Image credit: “American Girl in Italy” by Ruth Orkin

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How to Get Attention in a World that Suffers from Attention-Deficit Disorder