Getting attention is the most important part of online marketing.
No matter how brilliant your ideas are, you can’t even offer them to your prospect unless you’ve made her look in your direction first.
You have to get your prospect’s attention before you can turn her into a reader, let her know how wonderful you are, or sell her something.
Do I have your attention yet?
Good. Now I’ll show you how to get someone else’s.
Your reader can’t pay attention to everything
The brain is funny like that — in order to understand, the brain has to focus on specific information.
Attention helps us screen out the irrelevant and choose which information will enter, and stay, in our awareness. Our attention decides what to “pay attention to,” because human focus is limited, and we just can’t give our attention to everything.
Your reader’s minds are very selective. So we have to give them a reason to pay attention to our content instead of everything else out there they could be listening to.
There are many obstacles in the path to gaining your reader’s attention
Even if you have the best product, service, or information on the planet, it’s still difficult to get people to give you the time of day. Here are some common obstacles to getting your prospect’s attention:
- The relentless proliferation of available products, services, and information
- Increased and increasingly better competition
- The multiplying methods of distribution
- Buyer sophistication
- Information overload
- The desire for instant gratification
These are all roadblocks you face in the attention-getting game, so you’ve really got to be good at showing readers why their limited attention should be directed to you.
Try these attention-grabbing strategies
- Help them see what you see. You might be focusing on yourself when creating messages about your business, thinking that everyone sees things the way you do. But they don’t. People won’t “hear” you, or pay attention, until they perceive what you perceive. So you’ve got to make your position crystal clear — help them to see what you see, using storytelling, description, personal experiences, case histories, and anything that will put the prospect in the right position to understand your message.
- Make it personal. When you make your writing personal, you make it important. Personally interesting or perceptually meaningful information can grab attention, bring clarity, and help it slip right into your prospective client’s awareness. You don’t have to do a lot of explaining to tell someone his house (or his hair) is on fire — because it’s so personal to him. You immediately get attention.
- Use emotion. Emotion is a great way to bring clarity to your business messages while making them personal. Emotion also comes with the triple bonus of adding clarity, giving clients a reason to talk about you and your business, and triggering the circuits in the brain that activate behavior and decisions — emotion is much better at that than logic is. Emotional messages get attention.
Don’t take chances with attention
You only have a few seconds to capture someone’s attention, so don’t take chances with clever, cute, or insider language or visuals, which are often lost on people. Don’t use inside jokes or industry terms, either, unless appropriate for narrow niche marketing. These tactics only tend to confuse audiences, if only for a few seconds, which is all it takes to lose them — and a confused mind does not pay attention.
Follow up with a strong second
Once you’ve managed to capture your reader’s attention, don’t waste it. Getting your reader’s attention is like the first strike of a One-Two punch — if you don’t land the second part, you’re not going to knock them out (and I mean KO in the good way).
Make sure your second punch, the actual information or message for which you grabbed her attention in the first place, is worthwhile.
If it’s valuable, you’ve paved the way for easy entry into her attention with future conversation.
If it isn’t, it’ll be that much more difficult to capture her attention the next time, as your prospect’s brain has already filed your information under “not worth our attention.”
Want to learn more about how to capture a reader’s attention — and how to translate that into sales? Sign up for the Internet Marketing for Smart People newsletter. It’s free, and it’s packed with advice on how to grow your business effectively, without hype, sleaze, or silly games.