Attention is scarce. We all have oh so much to do. And for many of us it’s so hard to manage our time and stay focused with an increasing number of channels and messages. It’s not about getting attention anymore, it’s about deserving attention. For brands it’s harder to get through and ‘gain attention’. Why is that?
Carl Gustav Jung once said the reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their stories. We don’t always understand the stories we are ourselves. And people’s stories are often not heard. To deserve attention we must pay attention. To get our stories and content shared and acted upon, we must understand the stories of the people forming the communities we want to live and thrive in first.
Seth Godin, who seems to be recognized as a key content marketing inspiration source by the ‘content marketing community’ wrote a post in which he says “each cohort of customers has a particular worldview…each cohort has a price they’re willing to pay, a story they’re willing to hear, a period of time they’re willing to invest“.
“Yet”, Godin concludes, “too often , we pick the product or service first, deciding that it’s perfect and then rushing to market, sure that the audience will sort itself out”.
Deserving attention and listening: the stories you miss
How obvious it may seem, we keep making the same mistakes every day. We don’t understand the intent, goals, tasks and purpose of our ‘audiences’. We don’t listen to their stories and don’t match our stories and content with them. We forget to deserve attention. The quid pro quo that hides in each relationship – unless you truly never expect or hope anything from anyone and are a saint – that should be more obvious, direct and balanced in commercial relationships.
Have you checked your website content lately? Have you noticed how often you talk about you in the content? Do you deserve the attention of people taking the trouble to find their way on your website? Did you match your content with the needs and stories of people? How many slides are in your presentation explaining how great your business and products are? Did you ask a question about what motivates people to connect with you or share anything you have created? Did you notice a question, without even asking it? Have you listened and acted upon it with content, answers, stories and deeds that make you deserve attention and truly build mutually relevant relationships with your ‘audience’?
Is your newsletter, social channel, blog or any other way of communication worthy of attention? Can you explain why in just a few words? Or are you too full about your own story and that of your brand?
Stories connecting people, brands and lives
Gerry McGovern wrote “We need to turn advertising on its head. On the Web, the customer is now the advertiser. When they search they are placing an ad. Traditional marketing is about getting attention while web marketing is about giving it”. Paying attention, indeed. The best way for deserving attention.
The behavior, signals and even tiniest pieces of content people share, sometimes in less than 140 characters, are stories to express themselves. Listen to them before you even start telling stories.
John Simmons quotes Robert McKee in his book The Invisible Grail: “A great story transforms day to day living, inner and outer life, dream and actually into a poem whose rhyme scheme is events rather than words – a two-hour metaphor that says: Life is like this!”.
McKee talked about screenplays. The stories of your audiences are about their lives. Do you hear them and their life as it is? You need to in order to truly connect. That’s what content and deserving attention is about. Here is why: “A story is tightrope between worlds”. (Jeanette Winterson, quoted in The Invisible Grail).
All people mentioned and quoted in this post (except Carl Gustav Jung although he really should) are mentioned in our “Crowdsourced list of content marketing inspiration sources and experts”. We like to pay attention.
PS: this post is not really just about content marketing and business.