#winning marketing in a world of attention deficit disorder


My mind tends to wander at its best when on public transport, usually heading out of the city or a long underground trip. I thought about why this might be, and didn’t take me long to realise it was because I was out of signal, 3G or WiFi. However, with a variety of on-demand services I can generally keep myself busy (distracted) – whether it be reading articles from

Pocket, listen to some podcasts or playlists watching an episode of The Office, again…


Deluge and overload are two common words associated with “digital” these days. With a world in a constant state of distraction, as marketeers we are fighting hard for one thing; attention. I remembered the kids at school who had “ADHD”, it was never really thought of as a real problem, just an excuse for the naughty kids to get extra help, we thought. I looked up the true meaning of the disorder…


“Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a group of behavioural symptoms that include inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness”.


Our brains are certainly working in hyper-drive, consuming he volume of information that we do today. Inattentiveness, sure. Impulsiveness, tick. We want everything now, when we want it and don’t have time to wait around.


So, this got me thinking – as marketeers, what do we need to do to win? Grab the attention we desire and move beyond inspiring action, emotion, maybe even purchase…?


  1. Remember, not everyone is your audience

A lot of time, effort and budget is wasted fighting for the attention of the wrong audience. Either that or not enough time is spent crafting the thinking on who your intended audience actually is and what they might react to. Essentially, in a world where people sub-segment themselves based on their preferences, passions and interests it is just plain lazy to create broad brush communications delivered through mass media buys.


  1. Most people don’t give a shit

About your brand or your product. On the whole most brands are not truly lifestyle orientated, they are just trying to be. So unless you are part of that elite group, just remember this – they really don’t give a shit. So making them do so, even for a split second, you are going to have to do something different, and meaningful. I have found that if you constantly ask yourself that question, it helps focus your mind on moving the needle, even down to the crafting of a single tweet. “Why would they give a shit?”


  1. Know your role

In consumers’ lives. This might not be obvious or be defined at all but you do need figure it out. Understanding how you add value to your customers or potential customers is vital, this will help to define the role you play but in addition who you are to them, how you talk to them, where you talk to them, what about, with what and what outcome you want from all of this “talking”.


One of our clients, a healthcare brand, has a fabulous vision statement which cements its role to its customers. Perhaps think about defining this for you marketing team on behalf of your customers?


  1. Know where your audience is

If I had a pound for everyone who had heard say that they set-up a particular social media channel because they thought they should and everyone else was doing it, I’d have quite a few pounds. Maybe like 100 or something. But don’t blast out communications across all channels thinking the more channels the more people you reach, it doesn’t work like that – particularly in social. As the platforms grow up, they are getting better at making money. The result, you have to have budget to expose the opportunity and capture the attention you desire, it won’t just happen organically. Know where you should be, prioritise and invest accordingly. Less can be more.


  1. Understand the behavioural differences between each channel

Interactions in each channel vary, they also vary depending on the audience itself within the channel. Don’t assume that all Facebook users utilise the platform in the same way. Don’t assume Facebook & Twitter behaviours are the same. And also, be mindful that every day platform changes are happening, presenting new innovative ways to fight for that attention. You should define a channel strategy, which is an evolution of “knowing your role” to your customers.



  1. Think value exchanges & experiences 

We have found ourselves talking about this a lot with our B2B clients at the moment, particularly when t comes to content value exchanges – downloading a white paper is not a value exchange – not if the content offers no value to begin with. Creating authentic experiences with your customers is likely to grant you lasting attention or certainly a mild affinity to pave the way for more attention. However, it’s not always as simple as that. I went to a Sub Focus gig once put on by Desparados because I like Sub Focus. Thing is I hate Tequila and I therefore hate Despeardos, nothing will make me get over my under 19 (17) rugby tour hangover from hell and drink it again. My point is this, creating authentic experiences and value exchanges that link directly to ROI is tough.



  1. Make it stand out

Simply, you can’t afford to be run of the mill. This is no longer about creating a wacky bit of creative or Guinness style epic TV ad – the attention spans you are contending with demand more and they consume more content too, so it will be forgotten in a heartbeat. Stories must be connected, your audience is always-on and always distracted. As David Brent once said in the office “get their attention!”.


Brands are being “uberised” all the time, out-innovated not by anyone they have considered to be their competitors before in most cases – new players, agile, nimble, disruptive. It is not just marketeers who are needing to think outside of the box, it is the whole business but it is often us who are driving change.



  1. Measure the hell out of it all

Whilst trying all this new stuff, experimenting with channels, content, formats, tone, journeys, calls to action, experiences we must work hard to measure everything.


Measuring smart might well mean a more manual effort, merging metrics from a variety of different platforms or third parties. But the crucial thing is to learn, why did this work or why did it fail? What tweaks can we make for next time?


Context is so important. Within social media we get lost in metrics at a micro level, it is only when you aggregate data and take a few levels up and apply some context you start to see the patterns that would inform decision making.


  1. Remember, you’ll never actually #win it all

Never. As soon as you find that magic formula a legislation change, a new platform, a platform development or something will happen which will flip the whole lot on its head. The world is in beta, the people in it are distracted and lost and we have to do our best to keep up, understand what we can and take advantage. Essentially though, another David Brent quote sums it up for me, “nothing ever changes whilst staying the same, quite literally”.


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