th images menu user export search eye clock list list2 arrow-left untitled twitter facebook googleplus instagram cross photos entrep-logo-svg

The Myth of the 8-Second Attention Span

How to grab your audience's attention, even when they have infinite options
By Shaun Buck |


 

Microsoft conducted a widely publicized study a few years ago that concluded the average American’s attention span is only 8 seconds -- less than a goldfish.

 

This idea that no one can focus anymore has made its way into all areas of business and life, from 140 character tweets to the idea that no one will read long-copy sales letters or watch a video on their computer longer than five minutes.

 

I call BS on all of it. The problem isn’t attention span; the problem is we have an infinite number of options to choose from.

 

Back when TV first came out, people had just a handful of channels to watch. If you didn’t like what was on, you had two additional choices. Now, you have 200 choices, plus whatever is on DVR, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube or elsewhere.

 

If I have options and you bore me, it is easy to simply change the channel. Odds are I can find something that will amuse me, which means you have a very short period of time to entertain me or I’m off to the next option.

 

Because of infinite channels, marketing has changed as well. 15 years ago, if you didn’t get a good response with your first marketing pieces, any additional follow-up was unlikely to yield any additional results. Today, because it is so difficult to grab someone’s attention, you may not get any response unless you follow up. It requires a much larger and more complicated campaign to break through the noise.

 

For example, I developed a five-step direct mail campaign designed to get new patients for dental offices. Since the campaign started six years ago, steps four and five combined have gotten a greater number of new patients than steps one, two and three combined. All the steps have similar copy, and although I think the last two steps look cooler, there isn’t an increase in the offer or some other huge reason they should get such a drastic increase in response. They just do.

 

My best guess is the increase in steps four and five happen in part because of procrastination caused by infinite channels on the dial. When the prospect gets the fourth letter, they realize it is the fourth time they’ve meant to call and make an appointment. So they finally actually call.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

 

 

How to capture a person's attention

Let's start with this: If you start talking about the latest whiz-bang scientific report, you’re done. Boring never works.

 

A combination of offline and online marketing works the best. If we generate a lead online, we want to bring them offline ASAP. If that lead is generated offline, we want to connect and bring them online immediately. We want the prospect to get our message across platforms.

 

An associate of mine, Perry Belcher, once said that today we live in the single most difficult time to get someone to make a first-time purchase from you. That’s the bad news. The good news is we live in the single easiest time to get someone to make their second purchase with you. 

 

Getting someone to buy from you the first time is one of the single most expensive things any business does. But once someone decides to trust you -- once they determine that if they give you their hard-earned money, you will not rip them off -- it is so much easier to get them to simply continue to shop with you over and over again. All you have to do is do what you say you’re going to do and remind them who you are, what you do and that you’re still in business.

 

Costco is the perfect example of this. It was not easy to convince me that I should pay them to shop in their stores, but they got me to join with good pricing, exclusive deals, a nearly unlimited return policy and a risk-free guarantee on the membership. Now, I get a magazine from them once per month (in the mail) with articles and items I may want to buy. This magazine serves to entertain, educate, and sell me on new products or services they offer.

 

The more time a person gives you, your media and your products or services, the greater influence you have with them. If you want to sell more tomorrow, remember that consumers have an infinite number of channels to choose from. It is your job to entertain them, educate them and capture their attention long enough to sell to them.

 

 

*****

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com. Minor edits have been done by the Entrepreneur.com.ph editors.

 

Latest Articles

How Much Cut in Personal Income Taxes Can You Expect Under the Newly Ratified Tax Reform Bill?

President Rodrigo Duterte just needs to sign the bill and it will take effect 15 days later

byEntrepreneur Staff | December 14, 2017 16:00:00

Productivity Hack: Free Up Space on Your Mobile with Files Go

An app that frees up space, finds files faster, and easily shares them

byNicai de Guzman | December 14, 2017 10:00:00

Which PH Cities and Towns Have the Most and Least Bank Deposits?

If you have Php10 million in the bank, you have more deposits than at least 10 entire towns

byPauline Macaraeg | December 14, 2017 09:00:00

The Holy Trinity of Business Growth: People, Process and Metrics

How do you keep your company profitable as it scales above 50 employees?

byDoug and Polly White | December 14, 2017 08:00:00

3 Relationships That Will Build the Tribe Every Entrepreneur Deserves

Life is a team sport, and we cannot succeed alone

byKim Perell | December 14, 2017 06:00:00

Science Says You Can Do This Simple Action to Boost Your Memory

You have to listen to your own voice

byNina Zipkin | December 14, 2017 02:00:00

This 6-Year-Old Kid Reportedly Earned US$11 Million on YouTube

His most popular videos are the ones with an "egg surprise." Watch them here!

byKitty Elicay for SmartParenting.com.ph | December 14, 2017 00:00:00

Users of Online Marketplace Carousell Earn Php20K a Month Selling Mostly Secondhand Stuff

Launched in the Philippines in October 2016, the SG startup has helped sell over one million items

byElyssa Christine Lopez | December 13, 2017 12:00:00

Meet the Fruitcake Queen Who Has Been Making The Christmas Staple for Over 40 Years

Despite rising demand, Ju.D Lao refuses to open a shop and just wants to keep it a home-based...

byPaul John Caña | December 13, 2017 09:00:00

Hard Work? It's Not All It's Cracked up to Be. It May Even Be Irrelevant. Here's Why

Netflix let go of many of its hardest-working employees in favor of those who most greatly impacted...

byJayson Demers | December 13, 2017 08:00:00

Here's Why Introverted Employees Are More Likely to Leave Companies

A Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test could determine the mix of introverts and extroverts at your...

byHeather R. Huhman | December 13, 2017 06:00:00

Steve Jobs Shares the Secrets to Successful Team Leadership in This Throwback Video

The Apple co-founder reveals what he really thinks about professional managers

byNina Zipkin | December 13, 2017 02:00:00