Attention spans have become shorter than at any time in human history. As a result, entrepreneurs who wish to get their message out and catch the eye of would-be customers must be more creative than ever before. There is just too much information out there, some of which pushes your product or service out of your customers’ view. Attention Deficit Disorder is more than a clinical diagnosis; it’s now the very definition of our daily existence. We don’t have enough attention to adequately give to the numerous and multiplying shiny objects vying for our finite attention. So, how can you cut through the fog and get the attention of the right people at the right time to make a sale? Here are four approaches to consider.
1. Become remarkable enough to drop your advertising budget. To be remarkable is to give people something to remark about. Imagine placing no ads, and making no sales calls. Paying for no marketing whatsoever—just answering the phone and starting to work for new clients. Impossible? Not according to Doejo Founder Phil Tadros. “We are an innovation studio passionate about creating brands, platforms, products, and experiences people love,” he declares. Doejo might be doing just that, and in a remarkable way. Case in point: In a previous article, I wrote about my choice of a web-based marketplace to sell a few surplus guitars ( ). Now I come to find out that Doejo created that site. Remarkable. No wonder Doejo doesn’t have to advertise. Word-of-mouth advertising is the least expensive and most effective method of getting the attention you’ve always hoped for. What can you do to get the right people talking about you to your future customers?
2. Help your customers buy from and sell to each other. Take a close look at your customer list. Who on the list could benefit from an introduction to someone else on that same list? B2B clients respond well to this type of matchmaking, and you become a more valuable supplier or service provider as a result. This can become a differentiating factor, especially in highly competitive markets. Bill Bennett, Founder and Principal of Level Office, an executive suites management company, takes this business expansion model seriously. “Our whole purpose is to help our tenants grow their businesses, even if it means they might outgrow our space,” explains Bennett. One of his tenants, Jonathan Andrews of Hornet Realty, agrees, “Over the previous two months I have picked up a client in my building that will certainly cover my annual lease cost, and I have become a client for a fellow Level Office tenant. Level has provided the opportunity to interact with people on an informal basis, which is a perfect segue into working with, and referring business to each other.” Level Office has positioned itself as a value-adding partner, not just a landlord. How soon can you start making strategic introductions between your customers?
3. Remind your customers, in a non-intrusive way, what else you can do for them. Paul Serra, owner of CustomOnIt, a supplier of promotional products, was running into a sales brick wall. Once his team made the first sale to a customer, it was difficult to make a second one. “There are so many distractions. Our customers forget about us. We can have a lot of success selling more to customers if we can contact them, but we can’t catch most of them on the phone because they’re too busy.” The answer: An automated system for staying in contact and reminding customers of other offerings. This takes the form of simple, short emails that target customers no matter where they are in their life cycle with CustomOnIt. For example, there are specific emails for new customers, second orders, trending products, customized samples with the customer’s name or logo, etc. The result is a scalable system that has increased sales tremendously. Can you automate your follow-on sales approach in a way that is more convenient and accessible to your customers?
4. Inject something unexpectedly cool into your value proposition. I’ve always been intrigued with the concept of the irresistible offer, but haven’t come across very many offers that could legitimately be called irresistible. This one might come close. iConsumer.com is a site that allows users to take advantage of discount prices, just like many other coupon sites. Yawn. On top of the discounts, however, buyers also receive a specified percent cash-back on purchases. More interesting. But here’s the cool twist. Buyers at iConsumer will also get ownership in the company itself, assuming the SEC approves this business structure in the coming weeks. I can’t find an instance where this has been done before, and this type of trailblazing may take some time to get through the regulatory red tape (the discounts and cash back are available now). Founder and CEO, Robert Grosshandler makes his case, “Buyers will get to save, earn, and own with our business model. It doesn’t cost anything to join, and they continue to purchase the same goods they would have, from their favorite stores.” Simple. And kind of cool. Will it be irresistible? We’ll soon see. Can you add an attention-grabbing twist to your offering?
If you know of other customer-attention-getting practices that increase sales opportunities, let me know. I’d like to write about them.