The Economics Of ‘Attention’!

The demand for your attention is unending. So is the case because the supply of things that desire your attention is unending as well. However, the inventory of attention is limited at any given point in time.

If we lock 10 people in a room for 10 hours then we have 100 man-hours or 36,000 man-seconds of eyeballs in the inventory of ‘attention’ in that room.

If we consider the average span of attention as 2 seconds then we have 18,000 ‘opportunities’ to grab attention over a period of 10 hours in that room. However, there are only 10 such opportunities at any given point in time because there are only 10 people in that room.

Now, let’s assume that you are the 11th person in the room and you are a marketer. Your job is to grab attention that is relevant to your product or service. To make things complicated there is a 12th person selling their own stuff, and there is a 13th and a 14th and so on. As you see it is getting complicated now. Where do you start? Let’s see what are your options:

Step 1: Grab Attention:

How do you get your potential customer off from what she is doing? How do you stand out in a crowd and get noticed? How do your customers discover you? Where do they discover you?

Your options may be doing something silly, being loud, being pushy, being meaningful, being subtle, or just doing nothing waiting to be discovered.

The means you choose would filter the ‘kind of attention’ you would get and alter the odds of your success.

Step 2: Tell a story

If you are successful in getting attention you tell your story. You expect them to be excited enough to try your product or service.

The stories you tell and the way you communicate can again be humorous, funny, serious, no-nonsense, boring, dull, or colorful if you may like.

As Simon Sinek says “start with why”, explain why your brand exists, how your product would help and what features would benefit your customer most. Do so in this order. This is your sales pitch, you have only one chance to hit, hence do it right.

Step 3: Hook to revenue

Give a compelling reason for your customer to pay twice. Remember they already paid you once (with their attention, of course!).

Think CLV (customer lifetime value). Revenue models such as freemium, or front-loaded discounting models (for lack of a better word) do use this tactic to acquire customers. In these, discounting is deep in the beginning and then tapers off to profitability. During the first experience, since the customer has already ‘paid’ you with their attention to hear your story, you may want them to take home your product for free. If your story is powerful enough your customer would come back and justify your investment. A word of caution: Be careful not to overdo it since retaining customers without goodies and building loyalty might become a challenge.

To summarize, following points emerge:

  1. ‘Inventory of attention’ is ‘limited’ at a given point in time.
  2. The supply of ‘inventory of attention’ is unending. Every moment the market makes available a new set of ‘inventory of attention’ into the market for you to grab as a marketer.
  3. What is new and novel today is waiting to be a cliché tomorrow. Hence innovate not only on your value proposition but also on the business model.
  4. A marketer’s job is to a) grab attention creatively, b) tell a story passionately, and c) hook customers to revenue logically.

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