Why Getting Attention Won’t Make You Rich

image of clown

Be remarkable. Be the purple cow. Get yourself noticed. Just be your own beautiful and unique snowflake self, and your allotment of raving fans will come find you and buy everything you make.

Ever heard that advice?

It’s a social media truism that as long as you’re authentic, you can’t go wrong. Fame, fortune, and the latest Apple products will all be yours.

Let’s face it — authenticity can be a great way to draw a crowd. Especially if you have an over-the-top personality. And because we live in the age of attention scarcity, many people think that getting attention is the hard part.

If only I could get noticed. If only I could get someone to read my stuff.

But attention isn’t actually the rarest commodity in the 21st century.

Trust is.

It’s true that the first letter in every sales formula is “A”

All marketing has to start with attention.

If you can’t attract attention in the first place, nothing else you do has a chance to work. This is why headlines matter more than anything else you do.

And that’s been the case as long as selling has existed. If you’ve ever been to a Renaissance Faire, think about the way the food vendors let you know what they’ve got to offer.

When the pretty girl in the tight bodice shouts Hot Turkey Legs! and Cold Beer Here!, those are headlines. They attract your attention and let you know the most important details of the offer.

But you need to remember that the work of the headline is not only to attract attention.

The true job of the headline is to get the first line of your copy (whether it’s a blog post, email message, sales letter, video, or podcast) read, watched, or listened to.

In other words, if you gaze happily at the pretty girl but you never approach her for a beer, the headline (and the bodice) have failed.

Copywriting formulas have more than one letter

(If the whole idea of copywriting formulas is new to you, you can find 15 of them here.)

Conversion is the copywriting term for all the stuff that happens between that initial “A” and the sale.

  • You craft an offer that people will actually want to buy.
  • You build trust.
  • You answer questions and counter objections.
  • You describe appealing benefits to spark interest and fan it into desire.
  • You make it easy for the prospect to see herself as a customer.
  • You increase desire with appealing bonuses.
  • You deliver a clear, compelling call to action.
  • You build in urgency elements to get the prospect to act today.
  • You state your call to action again.

Being a jerk is bad for business

Lots of us will reward a jerk with attention. But not many will reward a jerk with business.

Jerks can’t be depended on. They play head games. They don’t respect their audience. They amuse themselves at the expense of other people.

Prospects are already fearful enough. If your prospects don’t trust you, they’re not likely to spend any money with you.

You don’t have to be a wimp

You’ll notice that some very successful businesspeople have strong, tough personas.

They may well make themselves unlikeable to most of the population. That’s ok – they’re filtering out the customers who aren’t right for their business.

The message they send to their right customers, though, is always that they can be trusted. That they’ll tell the truth, even when it’s not pretty. That they’re consistent, whether you like them or not.

The dad from Sh*t My Dad Says would make a good marketer. Let’s face it, if you bought a car from that guy, you know that you’d have a completely accurate picture of what was good and bad about the car. He may be offensive at times, but he’s trustworthy.

(At least, the real dad and not the one who will be played by William Shatner.)

The dad from “Family Guy” would make a lousy marketer. He’s capricious, he goes for the cheap laugh every time, and he has no integrity. There are no customers gullible enough to buy a car from that guy. You may find him hilarious, but no sane person would find him trustworthy.

It takes more than being remarkable

Hey, I’m a big fan of remarkable. I built a blog and a lovely business around it.

But “remarkable” doesn’t mean “remarkably annoying,” “remarkably mean,” or “remarkably useless.”

You have my permission to swear on your blog, to fearlessly embrace controversy, or just to make yourself a likeable jackass.

But never, ever do it at the expense of the trust of your readers.

There is no effective copywriting formula that leads directly from getting Attention to creating a Scandal to making a Sale.

That’s just a formula for making an A-S-S of yourself.

Flickr Creative Commons image by Karen_O’D

About the author

Sonia Simone


Sonia Simone is co-founder and Chief Content Officer of Copyblogger Media. Get more from Sonia on Twitter and .

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Comments

  1. Sonia!

    This post was so funny! And, it raises a question in my mind.

    What are the essentials that build trust?
    -Consistency?
    -Reliability?
    -Social Proof?
    -Transparency?

    I think those are the obvious ones, but what are the subtle ones?
    Does the fact that you get a lot of attention add to your perceived trustworthiness?

    I’ll be thinking those ones over.

    P.S. I love the internal linking references, so clever.

  2. This is some great stuff Sonia!

    I’m working to build my blog and the only thing I focused on now is getting attention or traffic. And so this was really needed because like you said traffic alone wont make you rich. Knowing how to convert them will.

    BTW I’m loving the emails from Remarkable…I only wish you’d post to that blog more ;)

    • Aw, thank you! I’m about to start a new little series on that newsletter, so you’ll be getting your wish. :) I love that blog a lot and haven’t been able to produce that one extra bit of content a week, but I have some plans on that.

  3. I’ll agree on this post.

    People don’t want the same ol’ cause she is doing this, I should do it too.

    There is a way to gain attention while still maintaining your own persona.

    That is what makes the best blogs and marketers so unique and original – their ability to stand out from a saturated environment.

    I also agree that those who are good marketers are also perceived as vicious. I think of Donald Trump who never waivers.

    • Trump is a great example. He’s not known for being a nice person, at all, but he’s extremely consistent and he has several books out giving tough-talking advice about what it takes to succeed.

      It will be interesting to see if Ivanka, who has his toughness but also a little more charisma (not to mention looks) will some day surpass his celebrity.

      • I won’t lie – Ivanka is hot. I actually didn’t even think that until last night’s episode of the Apprentice. I am feeling quite ballsy for even admitting that in a public forum.

        Nevertheless, her and Don Jr. have both definitely inherited the charisma and concrete nerves of their father.

        As far as the William Shatner comedy. I don’t really like the character he portrays. I don’t think he could sell me, but hey we are all susceptible to good marketing.

  4. Sonia, I love the direct, tell-it-like-it-is style. I instantly bond with bloggers who use it.

    P.S. Do you presently own any of the aforementioned bodices?

  5. Damn. I’ve been trying the A-S-S method for months now. It might get me nowhere but it’s keeping me entertained*

    *and poor.

  6. Very well put Sonia. There is are a lot of attention whores in social media.
    Some do get lots of attention, I’d never really want to have anything to do with most of them. Annoying jerks are not they type of people you want to trust your credit card with.
    Personally, I’d rather have money than attention any day (at least the type you are talking about here). Others may prefer attention.

  7. Hi Sonia!

    Great reminder here that it’s not just about being authentic and remarkable – or rather, that it’s about being remarkable in something that matters. ;)

    I got a chuckle out of the A-S-S acronym at the end of your post – so true! :P

  8. Great post Sonia.

  9. Very thorough post- Love the conversion list!

    Although Trump is fiercely driven , I sensed from his books that he is a caring man.

  10. This made me think about all those YouTube channels that get a bazillion views but never make any money.

    Many of them are SO great at getting attention but they didn’t take the time to seriously think about what they were going to do with it.

    Attention is great, but it’s also addictive and a LOT of work to maintain. If your not reaping any rewards other than “Hey, it’s that guy”, you’ll burn out pretty quick.

    That’s my business dude answer, anyway ;-)

  11. Sherice Jacob :

    What if some of your posts feel… remarkably boring? How do you breathe new life into the same old stuff everyone else is talking about?

    • That’s the other side of this — sometimes I think we get really afraid to share anything of ourselves because we worry about chasing people off. I can’t remember if you’re in Third Tribe, but the seminar we just posted with Laura Roeder talks about that — about creating celebrity when you’re not a hypermonkey like Gary Vee.

      In your case, I’d say get more you into your stuff. You probably need to turn your willingness to be a jackass (or a bitch, or silly, or whatever it is you’re afraid of being) up just a bit. A little frailty and imperfection is good for business, too. :)

      It’s tricky because it’s a balance, and there are many possible balancing points.

  12. In Sally Hogshead’s book about being “fascinating” (aka getting and holding attention) she emphasizes that whatever trigger you choose must be combined with TRUST.

    Here’s the thing though – TRUST also attracts people. It’s just slow and difficult to build, and easy to lose even after you have it.

    However, after you have trust, you can break every headline rule in the book, and still have people pay attention to you. Like Seth Godin’s blog, your name becomes the only part of the copy formula people care about.

    • Exactly. I couldn’t have put it better.

      Trust doesn’t pull in the eyeballs like a train wreck does (Sandra Bullock didn’t make the tabloids until her husband turned out to be a dirtbag), but it does pull them in, and it keeps them coming back.

  13. “That’s just a formula for making an A-S-S of yourself.” Very clever Sonia!

    You can get all the attention you want, but if you don’t have clear calls to actions, than it won’t be much use to you in your biz.

    You’d basically be honking all day long like a goose and never lay the golden egg. (Hey, give me a break, I’ve been writing non-stop for the past few days and my brain is fried :-)

  14. Bravo.

    You nailed it, as usual.

  15. Sonia I wish you wrote this 6+ years ago LOL I wrote about how I lost thousands getting traffic but with little sales to show for it. IF I had know this or even Johnny T blog it probably would have been a different story :( instead of a 5 figure lesson.

    I wrote something short about it Do You Want to be Popular or Profitable?

    Thanks again Sonia like i tease Brian your the brains behind Copyblogger (joking Brian of course). Have a great weekend :)

  16. Enjoyed this piece, Sonia.

    What really came up for me in it, though, is the importance of then creating that relationship. Granted, it comes from consistency and becoming KNOWN for something.

    But, especially for service professionals, if we fail to develop those relationships, we fail to build amazing businesses.

  17. Nice article. But then how we will get more visitors?

  18. You make a really good point here Sonia, Attention and Trust are huge factors. Failing to gain attention is the first step to getting ignored.
    And last I knew, getting ignored was no way to do business.

    But I’d like to take it a step further, getting attention goes hand and hand with building your network. You can have the most useful headline in the world, but if nobody sees it, than what’s the point? Drill deeper than that, and it’s not just a matter of having “people” see your headline, but the right people.

    Take your pretty girl in the tight bodice at the Renaissance fair example. She’s far more effective shouting “Hot Turkey Legs!” and “Ice cold beer!” at the Fair than she would be if she were shouting it in the woods.

    But is she as effective as she would be were she at a football game?

    Being dead center in the middle of the right people makes steps 2-4 much simpler. You have the right thing, at the right time, in front of the right people, and they’ll already know they’re a customer, it’s just a matter of giving them that extra push to go over the edge.

    But isn’t that what copyblogger does already?

  19. Great blog post! It’s really something to think about. As I work with SEO/SEM I try to explain MY customers that it’s not the number of visitors that counts, it’s the money the visitors spend!

  20. Attention + Trust = Customers

    While 100% true I would add one thing…the goods. In a medium where only words are the portrayer of your character it can be easy to get both attention and trust. It isn’t difficult to make the leap from believability to trust. Sadly, lots of chatter, fake check photos and lists of testimonials can easily create a sense of trust. Many people fall into the evil trap assuming that believability is the same as trust. And why not? If a 100 people said it… isn’t it true?

    As skeptical as I am I have fallen in that trap and regretted it.

    I would add always show ‘em the goods and as a prospect always look for the goods. Don’t just assume.

    And, of course, do not use your powers for evil… :-)

    • That’s such a key point that I can’t believe I didn’t put it in there. So thanks, Yolanda, for pointing it out. :)

      Yes: You have to not suck. (I’m considering putting that in all caps.) Your thing actually has to do what you say it will do, provide good value for the money, not break, and have all the pieces in the box. Otherwise, getting tons of attention and traffic just accelerates how quickly people find out how lousy your stuff is.

  21. In the social media age, you don’t need people to pay attention to YOU. I make my living paying attention to THEM.

    People bitch about their WP site being broken on Twitter, on their own blogs. Everywhere.

    I pay attention to them because it’s easier than getting famous. Every. Single. Day. People I google are shocked to get a call from me.

    You pay attention to others, and it’s a different but predictable path. Nobody knows who I am, my alexa rank sucks, but I make five figures just about every month.

    Being helpful and present will make you rich.

  22. It is possible to build a business very slowly with more trust than attention. I don’t have many clients, but the few I do have trust me. When I add a new client it’s almost always as a result of a referral from an existing one. Knowing I lack that over-the-top personality or commanding presence, I built a business model based around trust and relationships. It’s slower and more difficult but possible.

  23. We talk to our clients about building trust and marketing yourself as a resource quite a bit. You’ve summed it up quite nicely here. I especially enjoyed the part about Sh*t My Dad Says vs Family Guy, excellent point. As usual you provided a great piece!

  24. I worked with a large telco back in the day. We had the assignment to stem attrition. They were literally losing customers faster than they were gaining them.

    We did research that showed a clear link between confusion and trust. The more confused the consumers were about calling plans the less loyal they were. This led to launching a long distance calling plan for 10 cents a minute.

    By being clear and easy to understand, trust increased. Sales went up and attrition went down. I don’t think anything has change since then.

    • James, always so good to see you.

      I think that’s an excellent point, about the link between clarity and trust. Confusion will always put people on their guard. The assumption is you must be trying to pull something if your program is so confusing. And I don’t think that only applies to companies like telcos that don’t start with much goodwill.

  25. To me negative attention is a total turn off. I was following this guy on twitter who had a lot of good marketing advice, but suddenly he starting tweeting nothing but hate-filled political stuff. I unfollowed him quite quickly and will never follow him again no matter how good his marketing advice is.

  26. Smart as always, Sonia. It’s okay if people outside your Right People dislike you, but the right ones have to trust you enough to give you their hard-earned dinero.

  27. Bang on.

    I do so much like the directness without too much fluff – I’m here to learn after all!

    However, what typically strikes me more than most anything else, is how Copyblogger walks the walk. Good material, practising what you preach, trusted by a boatload of readers, from the small to the not the small.

    Thanks again

  28. Great post Sonia. Like you said to Marlee, generosity builds trust. Demonstrating a willingness to contribute sets reciprocity in motion.

    The key is to give efficient gifts that don’t steal all your precious time.

    Joe :D

  29. Sonia

    There has been a lot of talk lately about attention, influence and popularity. People are equating it all to the numbers as that is what they are *told* to do by the overwhelming amount of people looking for attention. The loud voices that are the “experts” and people buy into it. Why? Because they have the shiny sites, the good sales letter and the numbers behind them to back up their words.

    There are some that yearn for huge amounts of attention where others like to stay out of the spotlight. However, we all like to be noticed for our efforts. This is not an overnight thing. People like who they can trust. People come here every day as we know that the articles are useful, we learn and we can take action from them and the action we take will help us.

    I walk the same path as Chris above. I give my attention to others every single day. I want them to know that they matter as there is always someone that will think that I matter so no need to seek it out. I have gotten quite a bit of attention lately and it does feel good to have people be inspired by the blog, pop over and say hi each day, etc but in turn I take that and give more out.

    Love that this is getting so much attention as people need to hear the trusted voices, like yours, on this subject.

    @SuzanneVara

  30. Damn! I wanted to be a jerk.

    Great work, Sonia :)

  31. Interesting post,

    If you reach out to the community and contribute, they will in turn help you back. This will also build trust. Others will know that you are their to support them.

  32. This post is actually a very good jumping on point for Copyblogger in general, Sonia. You seem to have a knack for doing that.

    • Why thanks! Might be because I pretty much have a constant running conversation with readers in my head, so every week or so I stop and write some of it down for them.

      I always feel like I’m catching someone by the arm and saying, “Hey hang on, can I tell you just one important thing about how to do things in a way that will get you more of what you want?”

  33. Thank you. Here is my take on how to build trust.

    1. Walk the talk.
    2. Show the your care.
    3. Be consistent.
    4. Be competent.

    I think a person becomes remarkable when he is trusted.

  34. Sonia, your words in this blog creating a buzz towards authenticity and creativity of the contents. The blogging should also be an ethical approach of presenting thoughts and off-course the presentation of content matters a lot.

    We can get a visitor with a blog, but we can retain him with a content.

  35. Really great article! I know people who will bash other people just draw controversial and publicity just to get attention, but we all know we will never do business with them.

    The customers won’t buy anything from them because of their approach to marketing by putting down other people make them look weak, and potential business partner will NEVER work with them because they will probably backstab them for bashing other people.

    Another added downside to that, is if whoever do business with these basher, I would never buy from them with this association to these bashers.

    • Exactly. They’re all over the web, some of them have huge followings, but most of them are broke. And you point to something I didn’t — they’ll never attract partners, and partners are crucial for most of us.

  36. I knew there was something more to blogging than just standing out, but I never thought the key would be trust. However, now that I think about it, it makes a lot of sense. As a leader to a community or tribe, your members depend on you to provide a certain product or service (even if that is just more blog posts). If you let them down, they will stop following you. If you keep your promises, they will keep coming back.

    Thanks for this advice Sonia!

  37. Hi Sonia,

    I think as a blogger it is safe to say that, Getting Attention is the first part of getting rich. Without being noticed and getting top bloggers attention getting rich is going to be slow.

    • Right, that’s that whole section about the first letter of every sales formula is “A.” You have to get some attention. But if you get it in the wrong way, by being a train wreck, you won’t ever progress beyond attention to sales. And a lot of folks get stuck there.

      You don’t have to get any one person’s attention to get rich. There are lots of ways to get attention. The comments here alone are full of great suggestions & tips. :)

  38. Sonia,

    When I first saw the headline to this post, I feared that you were going to slam my friend, Jim Kukral.

    As you probably know, Jim wrote “Attention; This Book Will Make You Money.”

    Luckily for him, trust is one of his core values.

    If it wasn’t, he wouldn’t be my friend.

    In my niche, I’m known as being a skeptical soul, fiery, opinionated, and full of truth. Folks always know where I stand.

    They also know that I won’t tell them what they want to hear.

    You’ve helped me before, and you seem to come from the same “school” as me.

    Thanks! (See you at BWE10)

    The Franchise King®

  39. Great idea, Jim.
    Just keep sending me that percantage of book royalties that we talked about, and then I could actually afford to take you guys and gals out.

    JL

  40. Excellent post. Where everyone is fighting for attention, it’s nice to know that while people may notice it, not everyone is going to buy it.

  41. I think many of enjoy the sexy woman and it’s clear if you’re good looking you will attract more readers and attention. Hence, more power to good looking women whether they have content or not!

  42. I have come across a lot of blogs lately that are using cuss words in their urls, article titles and so on and now it makes sense why. I always of course thought it was to attract readers and get that little bit of shock factor, but it is now easy to associate that shock factor with bloggers being attention seeking as well. If their readers enjoy that and they have trust, then I guess it is not horrible, but I wonder how many more readers they would have who would trust them if they were a little more low key with their swearing? It would be a great experiment for a blogger who does tend to use a lot of swear words (I’m talking all swearwords that are everywhere, not just a little jab here and there).

  43. “Remarkably annoying” — oh I know a few that fall under this category!
    I really enjoyed reading your post, Sonia. It really is all about trust. Everything we do — from the headlines, opening lines, email subjects, down to the last line of our content, is meant to build trust.

    Great read, looking forward to more great stuff from you!

    • I think we all have our favorite “remarkably annoyings.” :)

      The ones who are trustworthy and add value (um, Gary Vee anyone?) can build great things on that, of course.

  44. Thanks for writing this. Your points on the importance of being authentic, along with the tips on how to make effective points to attract customers is truly appreciated.
    I’ll look forward to following what you have to say in the future!

  45. Hi Sonia,

    I learned the hard way about trusting people who speak their mind.

    But I will tell this, there is something incredibly powerful about a person who “speaks their peace” just lets us have it.

    I have a few friends like this–and I couldn’t trust them more because of it.

    I believe our readers deserve the same truth from us.

    Beside we can’t please everyone.

  46. YEP.

    I’m so sick of words like transparency and authenticity I can’t stand it.

    On Authenticity… I wrote a brief rant yesterday: http://livepath.blogspot.com/2010/10/be-authentically-good.html

    On Transparency –> it’s a farce. I’ve asserted over and over that what the new market demands is the ability to apply selective opacity to cover our sensitive areas…. This allows us to create good experiences that drive desired outcomes.

    Guess I would just add that I agree that it’s refreshing when a person speaks his/her mind honestly. It bothers me that some people use this as a license to be an arrogant jerk. There’s gotta be something that’s endearing or the person becomes just nother jerk on an ego trip… you know?

    Not you — by the way. ;-D

  47. “You make it easy for the prospect to see herself as a customer.”

    Shouldn’t that be: You make it easy for the prospect to see oneself as a customer?

    I can’t help it. All those years of hearing how one could not, must not use “hisself” or “hiself” or “his self” because it was somehow chauvinist, misogynistic or indicative of latent Neanderthal-ness–only to see all instances of “he/his” replaced with “she/hers” by men who write, while women writers continued along, smug in their contrariness. It makes it hard to trust that an article isn’t slanted against….maleness.

    Thankfully, their was a picture of a fetching lass with a tight bodice. It completely overcame the potential challenge to trust (even made me forget what other bulleted points were being made). Very effective in getting the point across.

    In all seriousness, great post! I look forward to reading more…after I find a good ren-fair.

    Disclaimer: All snarkiness is claimed to be the result of an ongoing caffeine deficiency. It is hoped the use of one exclamation point instead of two or more in the comment will not offend anyone–it was a sincere attempt to foster trust, and it was only the one that mattered in any case.

  48. Hehehe, your post was very trustworthy and funny at the same time. Probably is for my english so…does it matter be controversial?

    To my mind, the best conclusion is that you have to be honest with your audience, saying the things you believe you have to say them. Am I right?

    Thanks!!!.

  49. This is interesting in that it is something I’ve never thought about before. I find it similar to the term “peacocking.”