We’ve arrived at an age where every consumer appears to suffer from some form of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – ADHD.
Witness the Academy Awards ceremony in which Ellen DeGeneres tweeted her star-studded selfie. The re-tweets exceeded Twitter’s capacity within minutes, causing it to briefly shut down…meaning a million viewers weren’t content to merely watch the show but to tweet, text and who-knows-what simultaneously. In fact, numerous TV shows are now providing “two screen experiences” wherein the viewer can engage in show-related chatting as the program is airing.
Perhaps that’s the reason Twitter is so successful: the most anyone can focus on any single activity is no longer than the time it takes to write or read 140 characters. (Unfortunately, that last thought was 169 characters so I’ve exceeded my limit!)
For a professional marketer with a story to tell, this is an awesome barrier to overcome. Although, in fairness, the older the audience, the less they’re operating in ADHD mode, which is good news to anyone promoting funeral products and services to an audience over 50.
How do you connect, then, with your audience given their very limited attention span? Here are three tips.
First, appreciate that the audience is a constantly moving target, like a butterfly, flitting from TV to Internet radio to Facebook to Google to the newspaper to the street fair. If you’re not putting your betting chips on all the open spaces, you risk missing your mark. More than that, remember that marketing is not linear as much as cumulative. Meaning that if a prospect sees you in one venue, and then somewhere else, and somewhere else again, it reinforces your brand – as long as what you do and say with each exposure is supportive of every other. That’s the reason why it’s a risky move to put all your eggs in the social media basket, as “affordable” as it may seem. Like a smart stock investor, you need to manage a diversified marketing portfolio.
Second, have something compelling and unexpected to say. Part of the nature of an ADHD audience is its attraction to novelty. Meaning, if what you have to say sounds or feels expected in any way, such as “generations of caring service” or even “celebrate a life,” you’ve lost a large portion of your audience before you’ve begun. What can you say or do that the audience never saw coming? As an example, a recent outdoor campaign for Rose Hills Memorial Park featured very non-cliché faces on each board, and people talked about the boards, even on local radio. The same marketing disruption occurred with an unusual series of newspaper inserts for a funeral home, one of which asked the reader to choose between being buried, cremated or being “transported back to the Enterprise.” It certainly stood out compared to the competition and generated all kinds of local positive chatter.
Third, limit your messaging to only one major idea. Far too many do-it-yourself marketers load their messaging with four, five or even ten bullet points for fear they’ll miss somebody’s hot button. Yet the ADHD reader can only remember one key idea per product or service. BMW says they’re the Ultimate Driving Machine. Coke is about Happiness (or Americana if you go back a few campaigns). Apple is about Creative Expression. Where others falter is spending too much time balancing price, features, options, safety, performance, service, blah, blah, blah, without a strong single-minded point of view. The less said, the more is remembered. And more often it is said, the stronger the impact.
It’d sure be wonderful if there was some universal medication we could put in the water supply to cure the symptoms of ADHD among the populace. But in the meantime, every successful marketer will have to address the symptoms in their own way. Hopefully, these three tips will provide you some guidance.
Assuming, of course, you didn’t get distracted by something glittery before you got to my third sentence.
Dan Katz is president, creative director of LA ads. To discuss your thoughts with Dan on this blog or any marketing matters, email via this link, or visit www.LAadsMarketing.com. You can also connect with Dan on LinkedIn.