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Best Practices

Fast Five: Q&A with Scott Vaughan on Marketing in the Attention Economy

Recently, we curatedThe Attention Economy – The Impact of Attention Scarcity on Modern Marketing. In this eBook, we asked 12 modern marketers to share their best practices for winning the battle for their buyers’ attention. To broaden the discussion and keep the conversation going, we’re reaching out to other marketing and sales leaders with five quick questions on marketing effectively in the Attention Economy.

1. The Attention Economy was first coined in 2001 by Thomas Davenport and John Beck to describe the scarcity of attention and how to measure it, understand it and use it. Fifteen years later, do marketers understand the true nature of their buyer’s attention today?

Intellectually, yes. Literally, we have some work to do. This is not an indictment on B2B marketing. The reality is most marketing people do not meet regularly with customers and walk in their shoes to truly understand what makes them tick. Empathy is key in setting the tone for smarter ways to engage, communicate and delight customers in an era where the customer is in control and has access to info. And, I would add, dare to be different and stand out. Create best practices, don’t always follow them.

2. B2B buyers today are busier and more distracted than ever before. What do marketers tend to get wrong in their rush to capture their buyer’s limited attention?

Not all customers are alike or created equal. Nor are they in “buying” mode when they are interacting with your brand. We have to remember they are people first, not just buyers. One example to amplify my observation is our use of personas. They have definitely helped us marketers engage and target better, in aggregate. However, as a profession, we’ve also missed the boat by using personas as a broad swatch to communicate with prospective customers versus using data to personalize the experience.  

3. The Internet and mobile have dramatically changed how buyers consume content. How are marketers adapting their strategies to align with how we research and buy today?

Data, data, data. By understanding consumer behaviors and needs based on the data you have collected and can tap into, you can better serve the customer/prospect. This allows you to tailor communications, recommendations and offers. This approach addresses the “not all customers are alike or equal” thing. You can use data to better identify the best customers for your business – those most likely to benefit.

4. Marketers have vastly more technology options than ever before. Looking at the marketing tech stack, what’s one solution that stands out in helping marketers sustain buyer attention?

There is not one thing – that is a fallacy. You have to have the right mix of technologies/tools in your “stack” that provide the intelligence and capability to serve and delight prospects and customers on their terms – when and how they like/expect it. That said, (real-time) analytics is a must in the attention economy.

5. How do you combat attention scarcity in your own life?

Wow, that is a heavy question. I’m not sure I do a good job of it. Too much multi-tasking between work, family and fun. What I have tried to focus on is trying to compartmentalize and schedule my time and tasks and purposefully blocking out time for things like workouts, writing time, and family time so I am present on those things.