How to grab your customers’ attention in two seconds – without mentioning sex

The average human reads at a rate of 200 words per minute and has a comprehension rate of just 60 per cent. This means that within a two second timeframe, we can read approximately seven words and actually take in five. In other words, we just scan. We do just enough for our brains to understand and decide whether what we read piques our interest – or is just not worth the effort.

The role of the marketer is to grab the viewers’ attention as quickly as possible and, at the same time, transfer a key message of interest to create the desired response. The words must elicit an emotional response to create an emotional reaction, which triggers the viewer or listener to do something. If we don’t or can’t do that, then the target simply passes by and the opportunity is missed.

Maybe now you can see why so many of your messages, campaigns and website hits go nowhere? Malcolm Gladwell, in his bestseller “Blink”, suggests we can disseminate whether a website is of interest within 0.2 of a second. We then reinforce our initial thoughts by finding things that supported our first thoughts.

As a business you must break down your initial communication to transfer information that is relevant to the target. Speak little. Say much. Get heard. This message must be accompanied with a striking and relevant image to increase stickiness. 

So as business owners or managers, what can you do? Here are seven steps to creating a brand message that grabs people’s attention:

1. First look at what your product or service accomplishes and what benefit it gives the user. Remember that this may change depending upon target audience. 

2. Write it down in long hand – when we do this, the first iteration is usually approximately 20-30 words. 

3. Write and rewrite it over and over again until you have broken the thought down to approximately 10-12 words. 

4. Test this 10-12 word message on a third party to ensure you haven’t lost the meaning – this is easily done as you start to know what you are trying to say. 

5. Rewrite it again and again so that it has an emotional pull. This means that you must write creatively, pulling the viewers’ attention to the message. Try reinforcing this message with a relevant image. Test it again to see if it provokes a response.

6. Once you have completed the first five steps, create supporting information so that when the target interacts they get a second slightly larger amount of detail. Again, this information should provoke a response. It will also educate the reader and confirm that their initial response was correct. The supporting information should list the key benefits of doing business with your company – ideally keep these key benefits at three and a maximum of five. It’s important not to deluge your reader.

7. Finally, create supportive deep dive links or materials, should the viewer wish to read on.

As Mark Twain once said: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote you a long one instead.” The process takes time, perseverance, skill, practice and, above all else, a knowledge of what works.

Cliff Findlay is the managing director of Latitude Brand Solutions and author of “Why You?”, a new, quick read book for business owners on how to create a stand out brand in the most competitive environment the world has ever seen. 

Image: Shutterstock

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