Most people would get the logic of selective attention through a simple example. You are going through a boring lecture on finance, and a hot girl stands up (or a hot guy depending on your gender), where is your attention? On the girl or on the question she is asking? Ideally it should be on the question, but i wouldn’t be surprised if most of you were checking out the girl.
That is what is meant by selective attention. You will automatically see things that you “like”. In the above example, there might still be guys who will listen to her question instead of checking her out. That is their pattern of selective attention. However, if we were to analyse such attention, we will understand that it is involuntary. The impulse to look at the girl or hear her question is inbuilt and has many influencers over a lot of time. That’s just how you are and each person is different.
So why is selective attention important in marketing? Because what you give attention to, matters to marketers. So if you are a guy who is most likely to give attention to a new ad on the latest gadget, the marketer would like to know. Similarly, if you are the type of guy who is likely to attend an event which was advertised on Facebook, the marketer would like to know that as well.
This is why marketers are always on the lookout for ways of communication that can grab the attention of customers. In short, they want your selective attention and not the casual attention which you will not remember afterwards.
Today, due to a heavy dose of consumer marketing, we are shown at least a 1000 ads a day. I for one, hardly watch all of them, let alone remembering them. So what happens with the average consumer? He ignores most of these ads and only remembers those ads which catches his attention. Thus, if a normal ad was made, which did not catch the consumers attention, then all the money spent on making and distributing the ad is a waste. Furthermore, if the ad involves a brand ambassador, then the cost of the ad will also be huge. So the ad has to be exceptional and it has to demand selective attention.
So how do you incorporate the values of Selective attention in your marketing communications? How do you ensure that your marketing vehicles receive the attention they deserve? Here are a few pointers for the same.
1) What does the customer need NOW? –
A customer is more likely to pay attention to things that he currently needs as compared to things he might not need. For example – If you were to do a paper insert for your car washing service, most people who have a car will pay attention to your ad whereas those who do not have a car will ignore it. To go a step ahead, those people who are unsatisfied with their current car wash company are more likely to notice your ad. To target those people, you need to target areas where there are very few car wash companies or where there are too many cars. Thus, when you are offering the services which people need, you are more likely to get their selective attention.
2) People want you to meet their expectations –
If you have a shoe showroom, people expect to find the best shoes in your showroom or at least the second best. In an Italian restaurant, People anticipate finding a well made Pizza instead of average bread with sauce. In essence, people are more likely to give you attention if you deliver on your commitments. A toy store which has the latest toy is likely to be the favorite of kids. An electronics mega mart which has all kinds of electronics, from large to small is likely to be the favorite of tech enthusiasts. If you want to capture your customer’s selective attention, give him service and offer him products which are beyond his expectations.
3) Live it large, and offer larger discounts –
If you notice the trend of online shopping, you will find that every month there is a huge discount being offered to customers of a particular online portal. In fact, customers wait so that they can buy in such huge discounts. Thus, these online portals have achieved what they were trying to do – Grab the selective attention of their potential customers. If the discounts they were offering were 1-3%, then hardly anyone would have noticed. However, these online portals offer discounts which are worth 20% or even 50% in some instances. Naturally, the offering is so large, that consumers begin to notice and such businesses always get the selective attention of their customers. So, life it large and make claims which are large to grab better attention.
Whatever you do, there is no way to forecast how will your customers react. If there were, then there would not be any flop movie in hollywood. Nor would any product fail in the market. How customers react, and simultaneously how the market will react, is unknown to marketers. However, they can follow a road which has been set and established by other marketers the world over. The issue is, that even that road has several cross roads, and none of the marketers know which turning is right. All they can do is follow their gut instinct. And this gut instinct can lead down the right path of capturing their customer’s attention.