may i have your attention

I had a conversation today where one of the participants said that most people consider advertising annoying.

I responded that people don’t think advertising is annoying. They think irrelevant advertising is annoying. But these days it’s hard to separate the two.

I’ve often used the example that advertising is like the biblical parable of the sower. Too many advertisers broadcast their message to eyes and ears that really don’t care. Some of it takes root and grows, but most of it is wasted. It’s better to narrowcast the message to an audience that you’ve cultivated. You’ve done the work to find people who might be interested in your offering and are more likely to pay attention to a message that is relevant to them.

Narrowcasting takes more effort on the marketing side, but the ROI is incredible. It’s much more effective and cheaper just to talk to the people who have need of you. Today’s targeted technology helps. But you can also do a good job narrowcasting using traditional media too.

This type of advertising is extremely useful to the recipient. When you deliver a marketing message to me that solves a problem that I have, then we both win.

When you do a generic message thrown out to the masses, then…
You’ve wasted your money.
You’ve wasted your time.
You’ve wasted my time.
You’ve wasted my attention.

While money and time are important, the real trouble here is the attention. People recover pretty quickly after a waste of time or money. (some even enjoy wasting time and money)

But after you’ve wasted my attention a few times, I’m just not going to pay attention to your message anymore. And that’s a death knell that you can’t recover from.

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