All You Have is 8 Seconds

According to experts, we now have 8 seconds to keep people’s attention span says Brian Thwaits, Brain Trainer, who delivered the Closing Keynote at MARCOM’s 19th annual conference on May 30-31, 2017 in Ottawa. MARCOM Annual Conference is produced by the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing as a means of helping to advance marketing and communications in the nonprofit and public sectors.

According to Thwaits, a 2015 Microsoft study found that since 2000, the average attention span has dropped 33 percent, from 12 to 8 seconds. He says this is mainly because of  24/7 technology and the incredible amount of information that is now coming our way.

Along the same lines of the battle for time and making every effort to be effective, Ron Tite of The Tite Group, who delivered the Opening Keynote at MARCOM, insists that compelling marketing should help audiences remember a product or brand through evoking an emotional response.

When you combine the wisdom and knowledge of these two experts, you get a strong indication of the state of marketing and communications and where we need to go:

  • It’s getting more and more difficult to get noticed;
  • You have about 8 seconds of a person’s time before they move onto something more interesting;
  • Messages that evoke an emotional response are far more likely to be remembered than those that don’t;
  • The left side of the brain deals with logic tasks such as reading, writing, words, facts, statistics, etc. The right side deals with the creative elements and is where emotion resides. Good marketing uses a balance of the two, but needs to focus on the right (creative, emotional) side to start the conversation;
  • Niche content, storytelling and niche messaging need to be employed to make interesting and compelling messages and drive the desired emotional response.

This is why designing by committee or trying to leverage the same message with several audiences seldom works.  Most times, the messages become too “vanilla” to appeal to anyone or are too “left-brained” and fail to strike an emotional chord.

The bottom line is that to be effective at marketing (and marketing communications), you need to identify your target audience, determine what specifically will motivate him/her to take action and deliver compelling communications that appeal at an emotional level. In this regard, it is critical that you understand your target well enough to customize your products and /or messaging to have any hope of resonating with your intended audience.

Remember, all you have is 8 seconds.

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