Archives for posts with tag: Attention

Some folks use short-hand to convey that something was too long for them to read it. They simply write TL;DR, as in too long, didn’t read. It’s often levelled at overly long blog posts and the like, something you could never say about this blog.

I was recommended to subscribe to Tim Ferriss’ emails by a friend some months ago. He’s very well-known as the creative force behind the 4-Hour Work Week, Tools of Titans and so on. His emails on interesting stuff he’s coming across and recommendations for life improvement are really good. I’d been saving a few of his emails to read in one go, because they featured podcasts of TV interviews he’d done with people I admired.

The other day I got the chance to listen to the podcasts. Except that I didn’t. They were so long! Each podcast was at least an hour, comprising very long pre-ambles and sponsor messages before you get into a conversation that seemed to last forever. I tried clicking into later parts of the podcasts, but it didn’t work and I ended up deleting them all.

I’m sure the content was excellent, but I didn’t have the time to wade through them. Perhaps I wasn’t the target audience, since I’ve not got my working week down to the stage where I’m only doing 4 hours and have oodles of time to spare. I suppose I could have had the interviews playing in the background while I was working, but then I wouldn’t really have been paying attention.

For me it was a case of TL;DL – too long, didn’t listen. A missed opportunity, for me and the originator.

In 2000, I was in San Diego, California, for a conference. The day before the conference started, I had some time to kill and I needed a new travel bag with wheels and one of those extendable handles. So I went to the local mall with a colleague to do some research.

We split up and I went into a couple of shops. I nodded my hellos to the staff and I didn’t speak any more to a sales assistant. In the second store found the bag I thought I was looking for. I left the store and went to go find my buddy for a second opinion, as he travelled for work more than I did.

20 minutes later we came back into the store. ‘Welcome back’, said the sales assistant, a handsome African American bloke in his late-20’s. The store was Sharper Image.

What struck was that the guy remembered me. When he said ‘Welcome back’, I took the unspoken part of this to mean:

  • I noticed you come in before
  • You’re important to us
  • We pay attention to our prospects and customers
  • I want you to know that
  • We want to serve you so that you can become a customer

I bought the bag.

I still have the bag.

In my previous post, I shared the first of the two things you must do in any business communication. The second is so simple, yet is so rarely done.

What’s the call to action? In plain English: what do you want your customer to do? Your customer is busy, you earned their interest by explaining quickly why they should be interested in what you have to say and how they will benefit.

At this point they’re looking for your guidance. How do you want them to proceed from here? Make it clear what you want from them. Here are some examples:

– click here to request your [whatever you’re giving them]

– please expect a call from me early next week

– call this number to book your place

– reply with #AmazonBasket to add it to your basket & buy later

You’ve got your reader this far. Don’t blow it at the end by leaving them hanging. Tell them what you want them to do and make it easy for them to do it. Simple.

Whenever you communicate with someone in business, whatever your business, there are two main things that your communication needs to do, otherwise you’re wasting your time – and theirs.

The first of these is the first chronologically as well. Why should the person you’re communicating with be interested in what you have to say? Their time is at least as precious as yours, so you need to be able to quickly provide them with an answer to the following questions that are really variations on a theme:

– what’s in it for me?

– who cares?

– why should I read any further?

The only way to answer is for you to clearly state the benefit to them of what you have to say. Ideally in the heading of your communication, and certainly in the first paragraph.

Poster Epic Fail

Poster Epic Fail

So much of communication is down to execution. If you get the execution wrong, your message is not received, not understood, and not acted upon. Remember the age-old AIDA acronym – Awareness, Interest, Decision, Action.

As I write this, we have some local and European government elections coming up. In the case of the candidate’s poster in the picture above, he – yes, the budding politician is male – is hoping to get your awareness that he’s standing for election, that you will connect with his message, that you will decide to vote for him, and that you will follow through on your decision on the appointed day in the polling booth, when the rubber meets the road.

Hence the epic fail in the picture. The poster has been like that for over a week. Whether blown that way in the wind, or put up that way for reasons that we will never know, the execution of the message has failed – miserably.

This is a lesson to all of us to check that we have executed the communication well. Did you get my message? Do you understand all elements of the proposal? Can you confirm we are OK to proceed?

Always look for confirmation that you can proceed at each step of a process. It’s the short cut to nailing success and avoiding misunderstandings.



The domino chain theory

It’s not just sales people who struggle to get the attention of their customers.  At some point we all find it difficult to get time with other people who seem to be more busy than us, or just busy on other stuff.

That’s because what’s important to us is usually not what’s important to them.

Imagine a line of dominos stacked up and all facing the same way.  You’re one of these dominos.  You can’t see the face of the domino in front of you, the domino whose attention you want.  They’ve got their back to you.  They’re focused on the domino in front of them, whose attention they’re trying to get.  The trouble is, the domino in front has their back to them, and so it continues.

This is why we can’t tie down a meeting, or get a call back, or get a reply to an email, or get that thing we need.  It’s not important to the other person, like it us to us.  They have their own list of priorities and things that are important to them, and they’re going about it in the same way as we are.

Sometimes it feels like an entire supply chain is like this.  Half the battle is understanding the domino chain, and understanding why the people you need something from are not focused on you.

The other half is helping them with what they’re focusing on.  Then you get their attention, they face you, and the 2 dominoes are talking.