You have someone’s attention. Now what do you do with it?

Congratulations! You’ve finally broken through the noise, and gained someone’s attention.

Now what?

Now you have to take that attention, and maintain it for long enough to get them to the next step. And in this day and age of miniscule attention spans and constant bombardment of noise, that means you’ve got to be the only signal that breaks through the mire.

“How the hell do I do that?”, I hear you exclaim.

All the marketing metrics in the world all have one thing in common: they’re lagging indicators. They can only show you what people have done, not what they’re going to do.

There’s a fantastic line from the (albeit fictional) Madmen advertising campaign for Ponds Coldcream. A focus group shows that what women really want is to get married, and that the marketing campaign should associate Ponds Coldcream with finding a partner.

Don, our (albeit fictional) master ad-man, says [insert quote]

A room of people can only tell you what they thought, not what they’re going to think. And that’s what we want, right? To know what people are going to do?

We want to “get” people, and we want people to “get” us. But what do we do when what you love, and what people think we love, are different? How do we even know? What do we do when we just don’t “get” people?

It’s actually blissfully simple: your customers haven’t figured it out yet, and your job is to help them figure it out. Your job is to help them become a better version of themselves, even if they don’t quite know what that is yet.

That, ultimately, is what a “value proposition” really is: it’s you helping someone see what they’ll be like with you in their lives. If they like what they see, they’ll love you for it.

So, how do we keep someone’s attention once we’ve gained it?

In a word? Mutual value.

That’s two words. But anyway, you need to focus on mutual value.

The best piece of advice I ever received was from a recruiter, who told me there’s no such thing as a win-lose situation. Win-lose is, always, temporary, and inexorably slides to lose-lose. “Mutual value” is really just a poetic way of saying you should, at every interaction, be looking for a win-win.

Mutual value means you’re helping your potential customers see that better version of themselves, and at the same time, helping yourself. Most of the time that simply means charging money for how we help people.

And the sneaky secret that most sales coaches, digital marketing coaches and infomarketers will never want you to know, is that people will happily handover money if you can a) present your potential customers with a better version of themselves, and b) demonstrate that you have what it takes to help them get there. There’s no tactic in the world that can match it.

Mutual value: the most obvious, unobvious thing in the world.

But how do we do that when behaviour, expectations, preferences, likes and dislikes, from one individual, change from day to day; hour to hour; minute to minute? It starts with empathy.

Understand where they are now, and understand where they want to be.

To draw yet more inspiration from Madmen, people buy things because they think it will make them happy.

Or, in other words, they think it will make them a better version of themselves. This applies to everything: iPhone apps, iPhones themselves, houses, cars, interior decoration, gym memberships, personal trainers, coffee shops… everything.

The secret to keeping someone’s attention in a world of constant noise is being the person who demonstrates mutual value.

And the secret to long term success, whatever your definition of success may be, is being the person who actually delivers it.


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