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For any business to succeed – never mind to thrive – it’s essential that it’s capable of getting the attention of prospective customers, and making the kind of impression on them that can entice them into placing an order, or making use of an offered service.

“Marketing,” when all is said and done, is nothing more than the attempt to get the attention of people who might be willing to spend some money, and then convincing them that it would be a wise idea to spend that money on your particular business and its offerings.

customer attention

All the same, it’s no small matter actually getting people’s attention and making a positive enough impression to turn them from prospective customers into actual customers. Generally, quite a lot of creativity, fast-thinking, and nuance will be required in order to make this happen.

Here are a few guidelines for getting a customer’s attention, that may help to set you on the right path.

1. Do your best to get your search engine rankings up to scratch

SEO has been an established practice for almost as long as search engines have existed, and as the years have gone by, the level of skill and attention to detail required by this art has only increased.

Whereas once there were a significant number of competitive search engines, today SEO is more or less synonymous with helping a website to rank well on Google. And, whereas it might once have been good enough to rank on the first few pages of search results, these days, if your website isn’t on page 1, it will likely never be seen by the vast majority of people.

As the Internet is such a firmly dominant and established feature of the cultural and business landscapes today, getting your website to rank well for your keywords of choice is one of the most important things you can do in order to ensure that people are actually aware of you and the products or services you offer.

There are all sorts of things you can do on your own to improve the odds that your website will rank well, ranging from keeping and regularly updating a high-quality blog, to ensuring that your website’s metadata is properly thought through, and that the keywords you embed on your site are adequately researched.

Ultimately, though, you’re likely to find that it will be worth your while hiring an SEO Consultant in order to manage that aspect of your business, while you, yourself, focus on your primary areas of expertise.

2. Understand that you need to harness the power of narrative, not just present data

It’s often said in the marketing world that you need to present people with “benefits,” rather than “features.” What this means, in practice, is that instead of simply saying “this product has feature X, feature Y, and feature Z,” you need to say something along the lines of “this product can save you time and make you more efficient than ever with feature X, improve your annual turnover with feature Y, and improve employee satisfaction with feature Z.”

The key point to understand here is that people are primarily driven and motivated by narrative and emotion, rather than by cold, empirical displays of data.

If you want to get people’s attention, and make a meaningful impression on them, perhaps the first thing you should do is to put yourself in the shoes of the person or people you are trying to reach out to, and identify the ways in which  your company can help to resolve an issue they might be experiencing, or can otherwise provide a benefit to them.

You need to make an emotional impact, and be a decent storyteller with all of your marketing materials – whether they be written, or presented primarily as visuals.

3. Be daring with your marketing efforts, and try to stand out through novelty

If you’ve ever seen some of the adverts that were considered popular and effective in the 1950s, you’ll likely have found yourself wondering just how it was that anyone ever managed to look at them without bursting out into laughter.

Whereas in the past, advertising was less ubiquitous and less sophisticated, today everyone is used to being bombarded with dozens, if not hundreds of ad campaigns and marketing messages on a daily basis. And, what’s more, most of these campaigns and messages stick to quite reliably predictable templates and formulae.

One consequence of this is that most people now tend to be pretty cynical and hard to impress when it comes to advertising, and are much better at filtering out advertising messages from their conscious awareness.

While “mainstream” and “conventional” ads can certainly still be effective, if you really want to seize people’s attention and make a powerful impression on him, one of the best things you can do is to come up with daring, new, and interesting ways of doing your marketing, that really stand out from the norm.

Of course, this is much easier said than done. But in any event, you should always be looking for opportunities to market in ways, and through new avenues that the majority of your competitors haven’t yet discovered or made use of.

Not only will this make your marketing efforts more interesting and attention-grabbing, but it will also mean that you are marketing through channels that are less cluttered and heavily competitive.

4. Be honest and trustworthy, and always avoid cynical and manipulative techniques

A lot of people have some pretty unflattering images that float up into their conscious awareness whenever someone uses the word “marketing,” or “salesman.”

Part of the reason for this – a big part, in fact – is that a lot of marketers throughout the ages have unfortunately been unethical, and have used cynical and openly manipulative techniques to try and get people to do what they want them to, regardless of the consequences or implications.

While these sorts of campaigns may work for a moment, they are likely to end, down the line, with the company and marketers in question being widely disdained and treated as pariahs. 

After all, who now looks fondly upon the marketers who enthusiastically sold cigarettes back when the reports of lung cancer were first starting to surface? 

It’s important to practice good ethics in business and in life, for its own sake. But it’s also important to be honest and trustworthy in your marketing efforts, and to avoid cynical and heavily manipulative techniques and approaches, even just for the sake of your continued professional success.

5. Be concise – make it as easy as possible for anyone to understand what it is you’re offering, and why they should care

Research done on the ways in which people interact with articles and other forms of media online, versus offline, has revealed some interesting facts.

For one thing, whereas people will tend to read a book, or a magazine, in some detail, the normal way in which they’ll read an online article is by skimming it briefly from top to bottom.

If you want to get people’s attention and to make the best possible impression on them, you need to make your message concise. Attention spans are shorter than they’ve ever been, and if you don’t hit home with the key points more or less immediately, you should expect that people will lose interest, become frustrated, and wander elsewhere.

Be as concise as you can. Get to the point, and make it as easy as possible for anyone to understand what it is you’re offering, and why they should care. Never use two words where one will do, and avoid using jargon and unnecessarily complicated terminology at all costs.