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new marketing practices and attention scarcity August 25, 2006

Posted by electrica in basic blogology, CEO blogs, Miserably Servile Customer Pampering, online marketing.
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In his Edge Perspectives post “Mastering the New Marketing Practices“, business book author John Hagel III (co-author of Net Gain), says there are 3 major business economic shifts changing the marketing environment.

New marketing practices need to firmly based on the following upheavals:

(1) From scarce shelf space…to scarce consumer attention.

(2) From economies of scale in production…to economies of scope in customer relationships.

(3) From passive indoctrination and compulsive consumption to active participation and informed negotiation.

Consumers are aggressively informing, and defiantly arguing with, each other about products, rather than obediently absorbing ad messages.

Consumers are providing massive input into the production and distribution of goods they used to have no say about. Choices are based on vendor comparisons and user reviews, more than official marketing and sales promotions.

User generated content and consumer-producer-distributor hybrids are ruling the waves of commerce, turning the tide away from mass unilateral marketing to customized need sastisfaction.

Attention is now the commodity that is an endangered species. Web surfers, blog readers, video posters…everybody is busy moving and creating and consuming as fast as they can. We have all engaged in simultaneous online chat, blog commenting, mp3 downloading, and music listening.

Now the challenge is to stand out in the midst of competitive enticements, user-environment distractions, and extreme multi-tasking.

We must meet Scarcity of Attention with Rarity of Relevant Content. Astonish. Over-gratify. Satiate. Shock your market and industry with extreme excellance, unimaginable creativity, and super profound professionalism.

In other words, we must work to produce, based on customer needs and opinion input, a product that goes off the scale with style, sensibility, and satisfaction. A valuable and desirable enhancement of the user’s life, safety, productivity, prestige, ease, and pleasure. A must have for the clued in. A mandatory accessory for the enlightened.
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While there is a broad recognition among marketers that attention scarcity is becoming a big issue, the response has been increasing desperation to get some of that scarce attention. Intrusive ads are appearing in more and more places – projected in lights on the sides of buildings at night, plastered on the sides of farm animals in fields and running on video displays above urinals.

Rather than just focusing on how to get attention, vendors might also want to consider how they can help their customers receive attention that is important to them and not just from the vendor, but from others that matter to the customers.

Vendors also tend to commoditize attention, viewing attention as a fungible good that can be bought and sold.

Successfully attracting attention requires an understanding that attention is highly context sensitive – it is both deeply personal and social at the same time. Attention is deeply embedded in, and shaped by, relationships. These relationships are not static, but increasingly dynamic. The key challenge and opportunity for vendors is how to participate in, and enrich, these relationships in order to construct more value for their customers and to amplify the value of attention.

Vendors also narrow the focus very quickly from attention to intention, asking “how can we more effectively intercept people who have already formed an intent to buy?” The missed opportunity is how to engage the attention of customers at a more fundamental level in ways that create more value for the customers and for the vendor.

Finally, vendors tend to develop a narrow focus on new, network-enabled marketing tools like blogs, wikis, virtual communities and social networks, treating them like a checklist to be deployed like artillery in a military campaign – “yes, we’ve set up some blogs.”

Few of them systematically ask how these tools might be used to increase return on attention for customers. Even fewer ask who else already has deployed these tools and how they might help their customers find and connect to these resources and perhaps where they might participate in existing environments in ways that provide more return on attention.

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It takes more than setting up blogs, podcasts, and video to generate attention and build customer loyalty. You need to have an underlying reason for all this new technology. “Because XYZ Company is doing it” is the worst reason on earth. You better be doing it for the benefit of your customers.

Complaints. Suggestions. Advice. Requests. Questions. Insight. Anecdotes.

Your customers can provide all this great input for the advancement of your corporation. But you have to be willing to listen, learn, and implement.

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