Attention is valuable currency, don’t waste it

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2011/07/paying-attention-to-the-attention-economy.htmlI ran into a comment by Seth Godin the other day about attention being the most precious commodity in today’s world. It’s limited, and it’s valuable.  He writes about it in his blog about the Attention Economy.

This is such a great metaphor, and so relevant to website writing, content marketing – basically everything marketing is doing today.

If you let this sink in, it makes so much sense. You have to earn people’s attention. And once you earn it, you shouldn’t waste it. Heed those thoughts and you’ll be a better marketer.

For example, what does this mean for website copy writing?  Here’s what I came up with:

  • Don’t make people hunt for the information they need (squandering their attention on finding things)
  • Make the copy relevant to why they came there – understand your prospects’ pain and needs.  In other words, reward their attention.
  • Don’t use more words when fewer will do.

Preventing wordiness is so simple, yet so rarely done. Here’s an example from an unnamed website (I have taken out their product names):

“If you are considering putting <product> into production at your organization and would like to trial a version of <product>, you should select the Free Trial Edition.

Click here to download the Free Trial.”

The same point could as follows:

“Download a free trial of <product>”

This takes discipline – and revisions.  We want to tell our stories on our websites – but the things that we’re excited about may not be the things our customers care about.  And we’re used to taking our time to get to the point.  For people reading online (maybe on mobile devices), time is precious and shouldn’t be wasted on wordy constructions.

Look at your own business website – are you squandering visitors’ attention?

3 Comments on “Attention is valuable currency, don’t waste it

  1. Anne, I was just speaking with a client last night who is producing training videos for a major corporation. This corporation has no idea who the target really audience is, and no “value proposition” for the video series. I got very frustrated about this. Unless you can speak directly to your intended audience and sell the benefit of your product/service immediately, you don’t deserve their attention. Each one of those videos in the 15-segment series has to sell it’s value at the start, and then be very pointed and concise. We are all living in “Short Attention Span Theater” (remember that show on Comedy Central in the earlier days of cable TV?).

    Thanks as always for bringing forward a key issue.

    • Claire- I know, it can be so frustrating. Sometimes all you can do is gently nudge people into a different viewpoint. You might also have them take a look at the analytics on those videos – how many people drop out before it’s over, for example, and use that as an entry point. Sometimes that can be more powerful than anything you say.

  2. That’s a great idea. They have very dry training videos on their site already for comparison, and I know they have sophisticated web tools. Thanks!

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