Attention is the holy grail of marketing. Many marketers bow down and worship at the altar of consumer attention, trying to come up with the latest idea that will grab a potential customer by the balls, squeezing and twisting until they scream their undying love for whatever product is being marketed, then huddle into their corner crying as the marketer rifles through their wallet for exact change.
Well, ok. This may not be exactly how it goes. But you get the picture.
Attention is a vital cog in the wheel for anyone hoping to sell anything. Getting a potential customer’s attention in some form, shape or fashion, takes place from years in advance before the consumer even thinks of buying anything, to the second they’re about to grab the product in the aisle. Consumer attention is the very first step towards that consumer picking your product.
However, without getting a potential customer’s attention in some way, your product will NEVER be bought.
Thankfully, there are ways in which a product or service can easily capture the attention of potential customers. Far from being some new-fangled idea, these are some of the most basic yet important core concepts that can be used in almost any type of advertising or promotion.
So without further ado, let’s get to the meat of this tasty marketing sandwich.
The best and brightest of marketers have found some way to make their products novel. A novel item is some item that is original and strikingly different from everything else. Our brains love novelty so much that there are specific areas dedicated to nothing BUT processing novel stimuli. Nothing captures the amazing ability of novelty to sell more than Gary Dahl and his pet rock. (In a later post, I will go into further detail on the awesome awesomeness of this idea.) After a night of joking with friends about the difficulty associated with keeping live animals as pets, Dahl came up with the idea of selling “pet” rocks. Dahl estimates that each rock, including packaging and an accompanying “manual” set him back by about 30 cents apiece. He then sold these for $3.95 per “pet”. Pet rock mania swept America, and within 6 months Dahl had earned over $15 million dollars. Of course, novelty can be extended beyond physical products – a novel type of ad or a novel promotion offer can just as easily garner customer attention.
As many people would know, visually striking images have the ability to stick in our memory. This is especially the case with colours, which are easily detected by our pre attentive system, quickly bringing it to our conscious attention. Colours help people to categorize objects, as well as assists our poor, overworked (or in some cases underworked!) brain to reduce search time for important information. Using visually attractive features can even help to improve people’s attitudes to your products! However, one important thing to keep in mind is that the visually attractive feature has to be different from what the customer generally associates with that background, or else it will be lost in the background with all the other information that is being processed by consumer’s brains.
To most, it’s obvious. An item has to be RELEVANT to the customer to make them want to purchase it. The relevance of whatever is being sold makes a massive difference in the amount of attention that will be paid to that item or advertisement. It doesn’t matter how great “revolutionary” it may be to claim,an advertisement for Revlon will probably never influence me to buy one of their amazing long lasting lipstick. Unless, of course, I’m buying it for someone else – at which point it suddenly DOES become relevant. There are two ways to use relevance to your advantage.
- The tried and true method of targeting advertisements and other marketing efforts towards a market that is already highly likely to find your product or service relevant. While this is one of the most fundamental things to understand about marketing, it also makes things a bit boring, and can also result in stagnant product growth when market saturation has been reached. Which leads me to my lip smackingly more interesting second point
- CONVINCE your audience that your product is. Using this idea, you convince your potential customers that they do in fact need this product for some reason or the other, despite the fact that in “reality” they don’t. One bright shiny example of this is the jewellery industry – while several hundred years ago the concept of putting an expensive piece of otherwise worthless mineral around your finger before/during/after marriage may have *seemed* ridiculous then, now it is a commonly accepted, and almost enforced, rule of marriage.
Branding a product can also produce great results for those looking to grab consumer attention. By putting out a well-liked branded product, this ensures that other products produced under this brand will also receive lots of attention. For the Apple lovers, seeing an advertisement for a non-branded generic tablet will probably not grab their attention. But a tablet with the Apple logo, however, is an entirely different prospect! As long as these products have something linking them to the brand (e.g. a particular colour, logo, shape etc.) then it will be far more likely to gain consumer attention. Of course, isn’t just limited to physical goods and services – ever heard of a little company called Google?
Instead of reading this article and filing it away in your “permanent mental storage cabinet”, take a few minutes to contemplate how you can use these four topics to grab your customers by the balls! (Metaphorically, of course. We here at the marketing shrink do not condone, encourage, or promote grabbing potential customers by the manzone. )
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