Diversify Marketing Efforts to Keep Grabbing Attention

Attention span of a gnat

In today’s marketing world, we are inundated by ads and strategically planned product placements almost everywhere we look. Think back to that sleek Ford Fusion that has been racing along in your favorite television show, or the seemingly discarded can of Coca-Cola Classic randomly placed in the background of the latest blockbuster you’re watching. It’s not obvious unless you’re looking for it, but it’s there. (I apologize ahead of time if I have just ruined your enjoyment of television and movies.)

Now, let’s turn our attention to, ironically, our increasing lack of attention. According to a study performed by Harvard Business School historian Nancy Koehn, our ability to capture and hold our audiences’ attention is becoming shorter and shorter. She said, “The average American attention span in 2013 was about 8 seconds. The average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds.” (Ryssdal, 2014.) I am not sure what the average attention span of a gnat is, but … wait what was I saying? Oh right, that we need to become more diversified in our efforts to capture attention.

Gone are the days where just a simple newspaper ad stirs up enough business to keep your doors open. With emerging technology, we have many more means of capturing our 8 seconds’ worth. The key to turning those 8 seconds into a sale is to utilize multiple platforms. The goal being: to be on someone’s mind and hold their attention as frequently as you can.

How do you do this? An example is having a campaign on your web site, posting that campaign on your Facebook page, Tweet about it, run an ad (digital, print, radio and/or television) and perhaps drop a direct mail piece. The point is, have a consistent message running through multiple channels to capture attention, turn that attention into genuine interest and turn that interest into a sale.

For example: McDonald’s is a company that is REALLY good at diversifying their advertising. They utilize just about any media you can think of. Imagine hundreds of different 8 second attention grabbers. Which form of advertising finally got John Doe to purchase that Big Mac? The answer is most likely not just one single ad, but multiple advertising channels working together. You can track each individual ad’s performance; but the truth is a compendium of pieces that grabbed John Doe’s attention is actually what coerced his decision. He heard about a company named McDonald’s on the radio. Then he drove past a giant billboard focusing perfectly on a juicy, delicious-looking hamburger.

Now, I realize that most companies don’t have the means to spend what Ford, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s does on advertising. How can you quickly, easily and inexpensively create multiple channels to capture your target audience’s attention? Start with social media. Set up a Facebook page (if you don’t already have one and make sure you post frequently and monitor it), create a Twitter account (and talk to your customers) and if you have video-worthy content, develop a YouTube channel. The aim is to integrate all of those resources, together with your web site, and open a dialogue with your existing and soon-to-be customers. Turn those conversations into sales.

If you need help with your social media campaigns, contact me.

Disclaimer: no hamburgers were harmed in the creation of this blog post.


Ryssdal, Kai. “Goldfish have longer attention spans than Americans, and the publishing industry knows it.” February 11, 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/goldfish-have-longer-attention-spans-americans-and-publishing-industry-knows-it