One key message rose out of almost all the presentations:
The most valuable thing you (as a consumer) have to give, and you (as a marketer) are trying to get is not money – it’s attention.
Whether it was…
- Robert Prioleau of Blue Ion talking about selling for those who hate selling (listen to our podcast) or
- Ben Cash of BlueKey quoting @simonsinek on the power of why (“Your “why” will get more attention more effectively than anything else.”) or
- Rivers Pearce of Boomtown on marketing technology (listen to our podcast) (“Attention leads to engagement which leads to trust, which leads to loyalty.”) or
- Stefan Mumaw (a favorite HOW Design Live speaker) in the closing keynote demonstrating how we just don’t pay attention to information unless it is conveyed in story form.
This is not a new idea – I’ve had the book, The Attention Economy, on my shelf for 14 years.
But it’s still difficult for most of us to step out of ourselves and get some distance, see ourselves from outside in order to understand how much time and effort and repetition is takes to get someone’s attention.
I made this point the week before at AWAI’s Bootcamp when I was asked about how to build strong client relationships. What popped into my head was this:
“It takes a lot of time and repetition to get a prospect’s attention in the first place. So if you give up because they don’t give it to you right away, you’ll never get anywhere.”
In fact, that’s what takes the most time. But when we’re on the outreach end, we want and expect a client or prospect to respond to the first effort. It just doesn’t work that way – almost never!
You can shorten that time by approaching people who already know you exist so you don’t have to jump up and down for months just getting them to notice you in the first place.
In fact, that’s why I decided to sponsor The Revolve Conference this year. I didn’t expect to walk away with clients. I expected to begin to lay a foundation of awareness in the minds of the 200 people who were there, and all the others who have been receiving the messages about the podcast series I did with 6 of the speakers.
That’s why, every single time I spoke in front of the group, I said my name and my company name, whether I was introducing Scott Boylston (who gave his amazing talk about how he found purpose in his life) or I was reluctantly sharing my own failure story when Erik Reagan of Focus Lab gave a surprisingly candid talk about a failure he’d experienced and what he’d learned from it.
That’s why I don’t care how many books were sold as much as I care how many people saw the book cover sitting on the table.
That’s why, when they gave my book away, I wish they had said the title.
You see, it’s repetition that wicks away at your attention. It’s the effect of receiving my Quick Tip every other week (or so) for months, maybe years, that something starts to sink it, that you start to get a sense of who I am and what I offer and how I might be able to help you. It’s a marination process and it takes time. And I am in no hurry for you to be ready.
In his book, Pitch Anything, Oren Klaff, who pitches ideas for a living to people with (lots and lots of) money, outlines his approach to hooking people with ideas, and keeping them hooked. He talks about how he, and all of us, have mistakenly assumed that because ideas are formed in the neocortex, where we do our heavy cognitively lifting, then those ideas are being processed by the other person’s neocortex. It’s an easy assumption to make, but it’s wrong. Klaff says that anytime we pitch, we’re being mediated first by the other person’s “croc brain,” or the part of our brain that evolved first, and that is mainly focused on survival, not big ideas.
This changes everything about the way we think about pitching, because being clear, articulate and having a winning personality are not enough to really hook someone.
In riffing on Klaff’s explanation of neuroscience, I said that it’s like this:
You can’t stroll up to the CEO’s door and deliver your pitch. You can’t; that door is not accessible from the street. Rather, you need to go around back and get past the big, strapping bouncer who is not known for his sophisticated thinking process. You need to make sure the bouncer feels ok with letting you in the joint and if you scare or confuse him, you’re toast.
The process of getting your ideas, your pitch, heard, has to do with how well you can charm the reptilian-bouncer brain and work your way through the brain that’s taken millions of years to form, from the croc brain to the midbrain, which Klaff says is primarily concerned with social relationships, status. It takes a while, and some careful plotting, to get to where the CEO resides. And that’s why pitching is more complicated and nuanced than you might think.
That was just the tip of the Revolve iceberg – you can find more links and resources from the event here — and I hope to see you there in 2017: