by Rolf Gutknecht, Agent of Change (c) 2012
We grew up with the belief that the best idea always wins. The best person always wins. If you build a better mousetrap people will beat a path to your door. That might have been true when the world wasn’t inundated with one sales and marketing message after another. But the fact is, today the best idea does not win. The best idea does not get credit and the best product does not win if nobody pays attention in the first place. (Take 5 more seconds and reread that last sentence and let it wash over you.)
It doesn’t matter how great your blog is if nobody reads it. It doesn’t matter how creative your ad is if you don’t have money to run it. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best food manufacturer, if nobody buys your products. It doesn’t matter if you’re the best hospital if people in need go elsewhere. It’s not about being the best. It’s about finding a way that you can take who you are, what you make, and what you offer and create a relationship with prospects and current customers that is instantly captivating.
Think of it like this. Imagine that on the other side of the door from where you are is where relationships happen, loyalty happens, sales happen, profits happen. On the other side of the door, success awaits. But to get there, we have to get through the door. And before we do that, we have to knock. And if we can knock in a compelling, persuasive and interesting way and introduce ourselves, and if we provide people/customers with messaging and content that is instantly captivating, and if we knock in the right way, then the door opens and we get to go through to the side where all the good stuff lives. But to ignore the door that you have to go through is setting yourself up for failure.
The reason is that we live in a world with ADD due in large part to the addictive nature of the Internet. The average attention span used to be 5, 10, 15 minutes, but now, the average attention span today is roughly 9 seconds. Nine seconds! Your brand might only get 9 seconds to communicate a message, earn a little bit of loyalty, build a little bit of trust so you can continue the conversation before your customer starts getting distracted! Nine seconds isn’t a lot of time, so what could you possibly say in that time or less to get someone’s attention? I think it starts with presenting your message in a way that’s captivating in clever and unexpected ways. It grabs people’s attention and has them focusing on the message and not thinking about the other stuff that could come into their mind. They’re engaged…captivated. In doing so, you start connecting with them, which allow you to persuade them. Get them to trust you. Get them to believe you. Get them to want to connect with you. So when your competitor tries to pull them away, they stay loyal.
Having been in the advertising/marketing business for quite a number of years, working on Fortune 100 accounts and mom-and-pops, and everything in between, I’ve seen and learned a few things I want to pass along: As a company, you have a choice. You must either have an enormous budget to make sure no one in your category can compete with you OR you have to captivate people’s attention. With a big budget you can drive awareness through exposure over and over again to make sure you get your message out in front of your customer – even if you have a boring message. The other choice is if you don’t have the biggest budget (raise of hands please), in which case you have to have a captivating message so customers will pay attention, listen, remember and act upon it. What you can’t do is NOT have the biggest budget and NOT have a compelling, fascinating, attention-getting message at the same time. Then you fail and go out of business. That’s just the fact! My guess is that you could name a few companies in your business category that are no longer around because they were ho-hum..right?
Forgettable and boring marketing materials, tiresome page-turning ads or lackluster customer service will not get it done. People forget stuff in under 9 seconds if it’s anything less than captivating, enamoring or entrancing. Ask yourself why it is that you remember some ads or marketing messages. It’s not because they look or sound like every other company or ad or they use business babble that says nothing. Not a chance. You remember them because they had a strong, unexpected point of view and a distinctive message. They were captivating.
So, as you begin planning for 2013 and thinking about how to make it the best year yet, I’d ask that you reread the title of this blog and use it as the mantra for your future marketing initiatives. It’s that significant.