Give Attention, Get Attention
Beware. A single letter can kill you: I. The words me, we, us and our can be just as deadly. These powerful words can inspire people…to bounce right off your website, chuck your direct mailer into file 13, reach for the remote when your TV ad comes on, un-Like your social media–well, you get the drift.
Too many business owners want to tell their stories, put themselves in front of the camera, hear their own voices their marketing communications read like autobiographies. But is talking about yourself any way to start a relationship? Dale Carnegie didn’t think so. In the classic How to Win Friends and Influence People, first published in 1936, he outlined Six ways to make people like you:
1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
6. Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely.
Technology has changed the media of our communications, but it hasn’t changed our intrinsic psychology. Basic people skills continue to be just as important as they always have been; people still want to be heard, known and understood. They want to have their stories told and to have others say, “You’re interesting.”
Since you generally have just a few seconds to grab someone’s attention before they divert it elsewhere, it’s essential that you immediately establish, “I get you. I feel your pain.” Before you start giving solutions, first show that you understand the problem. Demonstrate that you can relate to how they are feeling in that moment. Only after you make that connection and your prospects feel understood, should you start to show how your products or services are relevant to their lives.
Here are a few simple things you can do to put the spotlight where it belongs:
It’s not about you.
• Whether you’re writing a Web page, an ad or a radio script, start with the word “you.” It’s a good way to start a draft with the right focus.
• Next time you go onto your social media pages, remember this mantra: “Like, comment, share.” Visit other people’s sites, “Like” their pages and leave them with a friendly comment. Share their content on your page. Social media may be 21st Century, but the principles behind it are timeless—it’s still all about how to win friends and influence people.
• Become a student of marketing, a critic of ads. Evaluate all the marketing communications you run across today in the light of their focus: are they establishing rapport with their audiences, or talking all about themselves? You’ll soon find yourself paying attention to ads, rather than trying to tune them out. You’ll look at websites with a critical eye. It’s actually pretty fun to study other companies’ marketing and it will help you make yours better.
The truth is that it’s not about you. It’s about the customers you’re trying to win and the public you want to influence. Good copywriters know that every marketing communication—from print ads to website home page copy—needs to begin with telling their story, not yours. Put the customer in the spotlight and they will want to know more about you.
The best way to get attention is to give attention. As Ogilvy once said, “If you want to be interesting, be interested.”
Kelly Walker is the host of A Swig of Branding, creative director for Intrepid Marketing and a senior copywriter with over 20 years experience. He has masterminded scores of high-profile brand identity projects, written hundreds of ads and taught college-level marketing and copywriting courses. He resides in Bend with his wife Andrea, four boys and (finally) a little girl due September, 2015
(Photo above | Courtesy of Intrepid Marketing