How To Capture and Hold Anyone’s Attention

Kid with Megaphone

Many, including some TIME Magazine articles, have argued people’s attention spans are becoming shorter and shorter.  But, in fact, I’d argue the explosion of media competing for our attention simply makes it more difficult to capture a person’s attention.

This post by Daniel Goleman, author of FOCUS:  The Hidden Driver of Excellence explores capturing attention by triggering the the orienting response in the brain and how some Vine posts are taking advantage of it to capture millions of followers and become web sensations.

Additionally, he discusses how important it suddenly becomes once you do capture someone’s attention to have a “story” to tell to engage them.  There are valuable for marketers trying to stand out from the crowd and to engage prospects.  So, take a look.

Re-blogged from LinkIn:  How to Capture and Hold Anyone’s Attention.

Learn more about the “Orienting Response” on Wikipedia.  It’s something that could help you stand out from the crowd.

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How Emotions Impact B2B.

Upshot_redballSMALL

Proving the Value of Emotion in B2B Marketing Communications

Most B2B marketing seems to be targeting robots. Packed with product features, advantages and benefits, it avoids “emotional entanglements” and strictly focuses on the rationale aspect of purchasing.

But business people are human first.  And humans are emotional. The way someone “feels” about your brand or even the “mood” they’re in when approached makes all the difference on how likely they are to purchase .  

Upshot, a marketing agency in Chicago, released this study demonstrating rationally and with qualitative research that affecting emotions is a more effective way to influence B2B decisions.  

Their major takeaways:

1.  The widely held belief that B2B decision making is rational and pragmatic is wrong.

Just as in consumer marketing, the research proved that emotion is a powerful tool and deeply affects the way business decision makers react to marketing communications.

2.  Effective B2B marketing should affect the target’s emotions while delivering its selling message.

Creators of marketing communications should work to inspire their audience with their creativity, be it a conference event, a web site, a sales presentation or advertising.

So, remember to engage them emotionally when your planning your next B2B marketing campaign.  

Brand stories cut to the “heart” of the matter.

Core Values - Image 2 - Reduced Size

Core values are the beating heart of every business. Genuine core values will capture the imagination and passions of employees. Customers should feel those values in every interaction with the company, its personnel and its products. But how do you tell the story of a core value?

When Liberty Mutual’s “Half an Acre” ad first appeared about 7 years ago, I’d actually stop whatever I was doing to watch it. I’d  even watch the entire show in hopes of seeing it again. Not because of the music (which, by the way, is great for this) or the production value or the fact that it was a 60 second ad in a world of thirty and fifteen second spots. I watched because the STORY simply mesmerized me and tied so well to a core value of the company.

Liberty Mutual’s Culture and Value Statement includes: “WE BEHAVE WITH INTEGRITY. We are in the business of trust. Our most important promise is that we will strive to do the right thing, always.

Now, this ad is nothing more than nine vignettes of common people helping others. But it tells the  story of how “doing the right thing” is contagious and has a karmic way of coming back to you. A story that resonates in the heart of anyone who’s ever held a door for a stranger loaded down with groceries or stopped to help collect someone’s fallen papers.  And this simple story speaks volumes to the values of the company.

Many people think a brand story has to begin with “Once upon a time” or “Our founder believed”. But, in fact, a brand story can be as close as the value statement hanging in your lobby and is told in the actions of the people who share and demonstrate that value every single day to your customers. There’s an engaging brand story you should think about telling.

Template for Storytelling

Storytelling can be a powerful tool for institutionalizing best practices, communicating cultural values and even building a stronger brand image for your organization.  The American Society for Training & Development has  a simple “Storytelling Job Aid” to help companies capture stories.  I really enjoyed this blog including that storytelling template and hope you will find it useful.

Starry Blue Brilliance

Storytelling is a compelling and effective way to engage employees. The attached template published by the American Society for Training & Development can help you identify, create and track your organization’s stories. Once you uncover and document key stories, you can use them to support your communication strategy.

Storytelling Job Aid

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A Brand Needs a Story

Once Upon a Time

Stories are important to brands. And, years ago, I learned just how important.

I worked for a company whose name was always being mispronounced. Every new prospect would mispronounce our name and even many of our longtime clients would get it wrong. We were in the business of putting together communications campaigns and promotions branded in the client’s name. So, just how important was it for them to get our name right?  Most people at the company just laughed about it and didn’t seem to care what they called us as long as the checks cleared. But for some reason it always annoyed me.

So, I took to telling a little story about the company when I’d meet people for the first time. The firm actually started as a watch shop.  The family was Swiss and would import watch parts into the US from the old country.   They would assemble the watches and sell them in their shop. They’d been doing this for about 35 years when the depression came along and practically no one could afford their watches.  In desperation, one of the founder’s sons starting taking his watches from company to company and sold them as employee retirement gifts. That’s how the tradition of giving an expensive watch as a retirement gift began… a desperate man trying to figure out a way to sell his wares.

In telling the story, I’d say the family name three times.  Afterwards, something amazing happened.  The people who heard the story would always pronounce the company name correctly, and they always remembered the story practically verbatim.  It even got the point where people would introduce me to their colleagues and tell the retirement watch story for me.

That’s what taught me just how important a story is to a brand.  If you’re just a name, why get it right?  But, if there’s an engaging story behind the name, it elevates the brand to almost mythical proportions.

What’s your brand’s engaging story?

Story Sells

Stories at Work

Re-blogged from LinkedIn:   Story Sells 

In the virtual world, we may search for a product, but remember we stay for the stories.

I’m always looking for insightful ways business engage their customers. and thought this insight from Mr. Hiroshi Mikitani, Chairman & CEO of Rakuten holds a lesson for all B2B Marketers.

He recently blogged about  a Japanese fabric company experiencing enormous success by telling the company story rather than simply focusing on products.   I encourage you to check it out.

Rakuten is the largest e-commerce company in Japan, and third largest e-commerce marketplace company worldwide.

Storytelling engages and sells all around the globe!!!!

What bar talk can teach us about B2B Communications.

The Bar is Open Sign

You can learn a lot about communications just by striking up a conversation with the person sitting on the next bar stool. Let’s face it, expectations are pretty low for bar talk. No one seriously plans on solving the world’s problems or finding their next best friend swilling a Long Island iced tea in the local gin mill. Normally, a bar chat is just a  pleasant diversion as you wait for your best friend to arrive.

But, I guarantee striking up a conversation at the lounge can be invaluable in learning about disengaging an audience. Let’s look at three types of people who will make you start fidgeting right after you begin talking to them and see what they can teach us.

The Egotist

Initially, the egotist is very entertaining. Who wouldn’t want to hear their story about running a marathon or their adventures in Paris? But after  a few minutes the “I” at the beginning of each sentence starts grating on me. Suddenly, I’m more interested in my swizzle stick than in the egoists conquests and find myself casing the joint for exits.

B2B communications often falls into the same egotist trap. How many presentations, brochures  and websites begin with a list of the company’s size and accomplishments? Remember, a prospective customer has a problem they need solved. What’s most important is how you can help. Highlight your accomplishments to add credibility to your solutions rather than making them the whole story.

The Know-it-All

No matter the subject, the know-it-all can tell you all about it. They’re filled with mostly useless data and have the most obscure dates in history right at their fingertips. The know-it-all will engage you, but not in a good way. If you’re like me, you start looking for mistakes you can point out to put them in their place rather than really paying attention to the context of the discussion.

B2B communications often depends on data to prove a point. Facts and data appeal to the rational left side of your brain. But data can be analyzed and interpreted in a number of ways. Just look at politics and how different parties will spin the same data to justify their stance. So, don’t be like the know-it-all and depend only on facts and data. Have a “point of view” that creates an emotional tie as well. Be passionate about your point of view and use facts to back it up.

The Space Invader

When you strike up a conversation with the space invader, they move in on you fast.  They get into your personal space and even worse start asking all kinds of very personal questions very quickly.  This just sends a chill up my spine.  I’ve actually gotten off  the bar stool and used it as a shield to keep a space invader at bay.

Don’t forget, most B2B prospects won’t buy immediately. They’re looking for a solution and need to research their options.  Retail websites are geared toward gaining an immediate sale. B2B communications look to create long-term business relationships and  must be much more subtle in their approach. Good B2B marketers look for ways to engage prospects in a dialogue to answer questions and educate first. Over the long haul, this builds lasting relationships and not simply pressured and transient short-term sales.

B2B Communications create interpersonal relationships.

The point is B2B communications are no different than building an interpersonal relationship.  Your audience reacts to both the content and tone of your message.  Think carefully about how you construct your message and look at it from the perspective of your audience.  Will they be put off by your tone? Do you choke them with facts and data? Do you seem a little to eager to close a sale?

So, next time you find yourself sitting at the bar waiting for a friend, engage the person next to you in conversation.  You’ll be amazed at what you could learn about disengaging or maybe even engaging your B2B prospects.