Attention: Your Most Valuable Business Builder

I know you’ve heard all about Bitcoin and how this new form of virtual money will change the world. But my vote for the currency of the 21st century is ATTENTION.

If you’re a citizen of the internet, I’m pretty sure that all your basic needs are met. You have food on your table every day, a roof above your head and you earn just enough to pay your bills. What you’re craving for now is information.

While the internet seems to have an infinite amount of information, our brains do not. So we only read, watch, listen and respond to information that comes to our attention. If it’s off our radar, well kiss that information goodbye.

Thus, those who can grab the most attention, as well as hold onto it, are the ones that make the big bucks this time around.

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Take for example Facebook. It has us glued everyday about all the musings of our closest friends, information we find critical to our social life. On the other hand, your campus billboard or office announcements aren’t as exciting.

Another is Google. Using it a few times makes us realize that you can find anything on it. Tell me honestly, have you considered searching using another site to look for stuff? If it’s not in Google, it’s like that info doesn’t even exist.

Attention is so valuable these days that people, companies and governments will try anything, good or bad, to control it. Like diverting the public eye to celebrity news when something erupts in government.

Or when Miriam Defensor throws a fit to get the news back to the important issues. (PS: I love how this senator uses attention grabbers for the greater good)

There are two components to attention: grabbing it and holding it.

I’m sure you’ll agree with me that grabbing attention is easy; it’s holding onto it that’s tough. But the rewards of being able to hold onto attention are immense and you can actually build a large, lucrative business on top of it.

Consider your usual viral video. You watch it for 2 minutes, share it but forget about it after an hour. You might get reminded about it every so often but eventually, it will grab your attention less and less until it is but a distant memory of a funny cat dancing to a pop song. The one who made the video didn’t get rich, but the one who hosted it did.

On the other hand, consider the Old Spice videos. It’s fun and relates well to men who want to be manly and women who want a manly man. People even talk about it during daily conversations. Most importantly, it made the idea stick that if you want to be a “real man”, then using Old Spice is one of the ways to do that. Profit!

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In your business, you have to be able to hold onto the attention of the user and make it a pleasure for them to do so. We often call this “retention”, and it also goes by the name “brand recall”. Hold onto it long enough and you will make money. Trial users convert to paid, ad watchers to consumers, blog readers to subscribers.

Honestly, there is no trick to holding onto attention. Consider this: why do adults still stay with their parents here in the Philippines long after they need to? It’s because in their parent’s home, they are well cared for.

So that’s what you need to do: care for those who give you their attention.

Sounds simple, but it’s very hard to execute given that you’re actually going to think of each and every person who does so.

I’ll leave the details for you to figure out since there are as many ways to implement this as there are businesses. But if you really want your business to succeed, make sure that you grab your audience’s attention, then hold onto it for dear life by taking care of your audience the best way possible.