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The Age of Attention Economics


Think about a current generation who has no experience, or knowledge of, a time without web based business and internet marketing.

There is no longer a star on the door of Madison Avenue ad agencies, they’ve been replaced by apps, software, bots and social media strategists. The creative department who fashioned influential ad copy and melodious  jingles now belongs to a freelancer working from a coffee shop table instead of an office with a communal break room. Current marketing executives have no idea, nor can they appreciate, the “Mad Men” mentality of advertising and marketing products. 

Information manipulation has always been key to filtering features, advantages, and benefits of a product to the masses, but just how much information can seriously be consumed in the digital age without devices exploding?  This is exactly the flash point when attention becomes the valued commodity instead of the product.

The last 20 years brought forth an attention economy where intangibles like brand loyalty, authenticity, and engagement are just as important as the tangible object or service being marketed. Value is placed on rising above the noise as much, or more, as the individual consumer we are trying to convert to sales.

But, the manipulation of our attention also leads to much more in the social psychological interaction of online marketing. As a society that is constantly in front of a screen and always connected, we’ve become attention addicted. We have propagated an era where angst is generated over how many followers and views we have and how the next photo will look when posted. The screen is now the window to the outside world and projects back how the outside world pays attention to our message.

When a half million followers is not enough to move the needle forward for a business or individual, we have failed to successfully grab their attention and have lost potential business.

Information overload is like a cycle of consumers searching and comparing, searching and comparing, and becoming paralyzed in the decision making process. And, the audience that is filtering information is feeding their own attention addiction by sifting through the latest dope looking for instant gratification and the best deal.

Attention addiction comes in many forms. Consider how many tabs or apps are open on multiple devices at any given moment, and how easily you can switch back and forth between them as notifications come through. We are taught well how to multitask and spend hours checking emails, scrolling the Facebook feed, or sharing a tweet. As I write this article, I’ve read two blog posts, a news story, sent an email, responded to an email, replied to a Facebook comment and fed my dog! Yes, I’m an addict, too!

So, what is the solution to reaching potential customers who are addicted to attention? It’s not always about creating more and longer content for them to consume, but rather where content is placed in social media networking platforms. If you know where your audience resides in their online life, and show up with something that is appealing and geared towards guiding them to more, you are likely to grab their attention long enough to get them into your sales funnel.

Better yet, how can we stop the cycle of attention addiction? 

Experts are teaching marketers how to use advanced technology to target the best potential customers and how to create content to reach them. However, as the world snowballs into information and digital overload, perhaps we should study the cyclical nature of human beings. It’s human nature to rush towards the newest ideas and technology as it promises to fulfill our dreams and desires, but once we hit the wall, we either move on or move back to a place that gave us comfort.

Where do we meet our customer in this stage of the cycle? We either need to be in the place they “move on” to, or be a part of their comfort zone. It’s a decision many business owners and freelancers will need to face several times during an addiction economy and on into the future of doing business.

I would love to hear your take on addiction economy and how you are changing to accommodate in your business! Please comment and let’s discuss!




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