While technology provides us with access to endless amounts of information, connects us with people around the world, and entertains us for hours, it comes with a cost, according to tech author and entrepreneur Ben Parr.
“As a result of our 24/7 world, our attention spans have become diminished, making it more difficult for companies and individuals to be noticed,” Parr told attendees at the International SalonSpa Business Network conference held in May. “On any given day, we are exposed to 70 DVDs worth of information and that’s increasing at an exponential rate—Attention is the fundamental currency of the modern economy.”
Through his book, Captivology, Parr is teaching business owners, teachers, marketers and others how to leverage scientific and psychological information to captivate attention. Parr believes there is a fundamental difference in what he calls the “Connected Generation” and how its members pay attention.
“They are used to flexibility and convenience—with a few clicks of their phone they can get whatever they want, whether that’s ordering an Uber, booking an Air B&B, ordering food, or completing a banking transaction,” Parr says. “And, through social media, they seek validation and recognition.”
Parr identified and shared seven triggers for drawing attention to your product or service:
Automacity – this is the automatic trigger that forces people to pay attention and elicits a response. Certain colors, symbols and sounds automatically attract attention because you already associate it with a specific stimuli. For example, when a salon offers a client a warm beverage, it automatically triggers the feeling of warmth and comfort.
Framing – “Popularity does not always attribute value to your product, sometimes you have to reframe the conversation to get people to pay attention.” Parr shared the story of the woman who launched deodorant in a time when talking about bodily odors was forbidden.
Disruption – People notice things that violate their attention. Parr told the story of a successful Patagonia campaign that had the tagline, ‘Don’t buy this jacket.’“Disruption works when it is simple, it surprises and it’s significant,” he says. “The Patagonia ad worked because the message was aligned with their mission of protecting the Earth.”
Reward – While rewards like bonuses for employees or points for clients work, they tend to lose their power once they’ve been obtained. Parr suggests the Connected Generation also needs intrinsic rewards—they want to be part of an organization with a higher purpose. For example, an employee may stay more loyal to your salon because of the philanthropic work you include them in.
Reputation – “People pay attention to experts, authority and to what the crowd pays attention to,” Parr says. Salons leverage reputation when they align manufacturers who have already developed a name for their brands.
Mystery – "Create a little mystery, suspense, and uncertainty and you will activate your audience's compulsion for completion and get them to pay attention.” Parr points to Steve Job for mastering this trigger with the release of each subsequent Apple product.
Acknowledgement—According to Parr, this is one of the most powerful triggers. Consumers want validation, empathy and understanding—that’s why social media is so popular. “Taylor Swift does this each year by wrapping up holiday gifts, sending them to a few fans and recording their reactions,” Parr says.” It doesn’t matter that she can’t send them to everyone, all her fans feel validated.”
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