Living in the attention economy


This post on John Hagel’s Edge Perspectives Blog is as a good a summary of the challenge facing marketeers (and by definition PRs) as I’ve seen anywhere.

The full post is well worth reading, but the following is worth highlighting:


Redefine marketing strategy

These shifts have broad implications in terms of marketing strategy,
branding and marketing performance metrics.  To start with marketing
strategy and again at the risk of over-simplification, conventional
marketing is built upon the three “I’s”:

  • Intercept – target and expose customers to your message wherever you can find them.
  • Inhibit – make it as difficult as possible for the customer to compare your product or service with any other options.
  • Isolate – enter into a direct relationship with the customer and,
    wherever possible, remove all third parties from the relationship.

Nirvana is the walled garden of direct marketing.  It is captured in
the mantra of “one to one marketing” – one vendor dealing individually
with each customer.

A different approach will be required to succeed in a business
landscape defined by the economic shifts described earlier. I describe
this marketing approach “collaboration marketing” and define it in
terms of three “A’s”:

  • Attract – create incentives for people to seek you out.
  • Assist – the most powerful way to attract people is to be as
    helpful and engaging with them as possible – this requires a deep
    understanding of the various contexts in which people might use your
    products and a willingness to “co-create” products with customers.
  • Affiliate – mobilize third parties, including other customers, to become even more helpful to the people you interact with.

In contrast to the “one to one marketing” mindset of conventional
marketing, collaboration marketing requires a “many to one” mindset.
The winners in this new world will be orchestrators who can mobilize
rich networks of resources to serve customer needs.

Brands will become even more important and valuable in this new
marketing world, but they will be based on a very different
customer-centric promise: “Buy from me because I know you as an
individual customer better than anyone else and you can trust me to use
that knowledge to configure the right bundle of products and services
to meet your individual needs.” 

From a media relations perspective, how many agencies can genuinely say of a journalist: "I know you as an
individual customer better than anyone else and you can trust me to use
that knowledge to configure the right bundle of information meet your individual needs."

We will also move to a new form of ROA measure – this time, it means
Return On Attention, both from a customer perspective and from a vendor
perspective. From the customer point of view, the question that
customers will increasingly ask is: “Of the total attention I allocate
to a particular source, what is the productivity of that attention in
terms of  value received for effort and time invested?”

What are the implications for media relations? How can a PR firm demonstrate to the journalist their ROA?

We’ll also see a new form of ROI measure – Return On Information,
again from both a customer and vendor perspective.  From a vendor point
of view, the key question will be: “How much effort and cost did I
invest in acquiring information about individual customers and how much
value have I been able to generate in return, both for the customer and
for me?” In this context, lead-times matter; the more quickly a vendor
can turn around and deliver tangible value in return for information
from a customer, the more quickly and effectively the vendor will be
able to build trust and willingness to provide even more information

PR is in many ways about information delivery – but again, what Return on Information are journalists getting? Not much it would seem – but perhaps this is related to ROA.

Sorry to say, vendors are responding as vendors – old habits and old
instincts die hard. While there is a broad recognition among marketers
that attention scarcity is becoming a big issue, the response has been
increasing desperation to get some of that scarce attention.  Intrusive
ads are appearing in more and more places – projected in lights on the
sides of buildings at night, plastered on the sides of farm animals in
fields and running on video displays above urinals. Rather than just
focusing on how to get attention, vendors might also want to consider
how they can help their customers receive attention that is important
to them and not just from the vendor, but from others that matter to
the customers.

Vendors also tend to commoditize attention, viewing attention as a
fungible good that can be bought and sold.  Successfully attracting
attention requires an understanding that attention is highly context
sensitive – it is both deeply personal and social at the same time.
Attention is deeply embedded in, and shaped by, relationships.  These
relationships are not static, but increasingly dynamic.  The key
challenge and opportunity for vendors is how to participate in, and
enrich, these relationships in order to construct more value for their
customers and to amplify the value of attention.

The parallels are simliar in the world of PR – more and more emailed press releases, intrusive, non-value add phone calls, etc. Perhaps the new agency model is a form of collaborative PR?

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Comments

  1. And, of course, only Marketing can get it wrong.

    Here is the difference between marketing and PR:

    * Attract
    – Marketing: create incentives for people to seek you out.
    – PR: Align values through interaction and conversation
    * Assist
    – Marketing: the most powerful way to attract people is to be as helpful and engaging with them as possible – this requires a deep understanding of the various contexts in which people might use your products and a willingness to “co-create” products with customers.
    – PR: Allow the voice of constituents to change the company/brand and be prepared to make change reciprocal – you don’t have to give in to the loudest stakeholders.
    * Affiliate
    – Marketing: mobilize third parties, including other customers, to become even more helpful to the people you interact with.
    – PR: Work with a constituency and not segmented markets to engage the community in mutual interest and development.

    Good job that marketing and PR are COMPLETELY different things and PR can advise from the strength of understanding the totality of wealth based on the Relationship Value Model.

    Like

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