What kind of impact has your phone had on your daily habits?
Some people argue that our constant scanning and skipping between social sites like Instagram and Twitter has conditioned us to not be able to focus on any one thing for more than a few minutes without getting incredibly bored.
But we don’t have less attention than we used to have. We just have a lot more choice.
If something doesn’t interest us, we can turn it off. We can change the channel. We can close our web browser. We can scroll or swipe our phone’s screen, and it’s gone.
However, this deluge of choice does mean that there’s an ever-growing battle for attention.
And your recognition of how valuable your prospects’ attention is could be the difference between them swiping away from you or deciding to stick around and find out more.
Attention is now a kind of currency
Brands now recognise how valuable their prospects’ attention is given the amount of choice those prospects have to consume content elsewhere.
In Seth Godin’s 2018 book “This is Marketing”, he talks about prospects trading their attention for something valuable. Something that will help them.
I like his use of the word “trade” here, because it is a trade. In exchange for your prospects’ precious attention and time, you offer them valuable, useful information.
I actually think that’s a pretty good definition of content marketing.
You build trust by repeatedly providing useful information that helps your prospect along the buyer journey. Over time you get the chance to change them from strangers to interested followers and, finally, to customers.
In the same book Seth talks about the idea that brands have for a long time tried to buy their prospects’ attention in the form of flashy ads. But I agree with him that in an ideal world attention should be voluntary. Someone choosing to read what you’ve written is much more valuable in the long-run than you paying to interrupt them with something they might not even be interested in.
Defining the battle
If your brand is creating content, you’re now engaged in the constant battle for attention. And this battle isn’t just being waged against the content your competitors are creating. You’re fighting against everything else out there that demands your prospects’ time.
That means it’s a battle against Netflix, Instagram and Whatsapp chats. It’s even a battle against that book on your prospects’ coffee table that they’ve been putting off reading.
So the first step in your goal to use content to drive growth for your brand is to recognise the immense value of your prospects’ attention.
Nothing motivates you to create compelling content quite as much as the constant reminder of all of the other things your prospects could be doing instead of reading your blog.
That’s why your content has to be good. Really good. If it isn’t, you might lose that prospect forever. One Edelman study found that 30% of decision-makers had decided to eliminate companies from consideration for projects because of content that had disappointed them.
Winning the battle for attention
So, now we know what’s at stake, what can you do to win the battle for attention? How can you ensure that you grab it and keep it?
One of the best ways is to show your prospects and customers that you care about what they care about. If you know what worries them (or what motivates them) you’ll have a much better shot at engaging them with your content and winning their attention.
This means doing a bit of research on the kind of customer you’re trying to attract in the first place.
It’s about building up a detailed image of this persona so that you know what’s likely to resonate with them before you start creating content.
What will they be looking for in a particular piece of content? Think about the trade idea from earlier. If you succeed in grabbing your prospects’ attention, how will you use it? Will you exchange something valuable that will help them with their goals?
That’s what prospects expect from your content in 2019.
The battle for attention isn’t a one-off, however. You need patience. You have to keep at it - to continue creating compelling content that engages your audience.
You’re trying to build trust with them, after all. It’s not that likely that one article will convince your prospect to become a customer. But it might make them a fan of what you do. They’ll make either a mental or physical note of who you are and what you do. They’ll look out for you and will want to read or watch more.
From that point, new customers will come. But the first battle - the most important one - is getting their attention to begin with.
I help brands to grab the attention of their perfect customers. Then I write compelling content that connects with that customer across the buyer journey.
You can find out more about my services here.