I’ve written before about how precious, and scarce, a commodity attention is. While they’re not making any more land, they actually making less attention. Still, too many companies are basing their product design and marketing around the assumption that they can gain and hold customers’ attention.
I came across some research this week that illustrates just how wrong that assumption is. The research, done by Hope Consulting, focuses on charitable giving and donor behavior. Hope Consulting was looking specifically at how donors make decisions about which charities to give to and what they wanted from charities.
It’s hard to imagine a “product” that would command more positive emotion and attention than a charity that a donor goes out of his or her way to give money to. Certainly there’s an emotional attachment that we have to the causes we care about that most products could never hope to share. That’s why cause marketing has become such a staple of consumer-packaged goods marketing.
But Hope Consulting found something very interesting about the time and attention donors paid to their charitable giving decisions. While 85 percent of donors said they cared about the performance of nonprofits (i.e. that the nonprofits they were supporting were making a difference), only 35 percent spent any time or attention on researching charities. Among those who did research they strongly favored simple information and rating systems–they were not interested in nuanced, thorough research that would take time and attention to sort through. They want shortcuts that help them make decisions quickly while devoting a minimum of attention.
What does this research mean for innovators and marketers preparing to launch a new product or a new campaign? Consider this: if customers do not have the spare time and attention available to devote to evaluating a charity in a cause they care passionately enough about to give away their hard-earned money, what are the odds they have time and attention to spare to learn about and understand your product?
Key questions you should ask about your products and services:
- How can you shorten the decision time through simpler information and decision shortcuts such as rating systems?
- How frictionless is your adoption process? Can you reduce the time for customers to set-up and consume your offering?
- What is competing for your customers’ time? Can you reduce or mitigate this?
If you haven’t started factoring the shortage of time and attention into your product plans, this should be a wake-up call.
Adrian Ott has been called, “One of Silicon Valley’s most respected, (if not the most respected) strategist” by Consulting Magazine. As CEO of Exponential Edge® Inc. consulting, she helps businesses gain market advantage in an exponential economy. Follow her on twitter at @ExponentialEdge
Adrian is the author of the forthcoming book The 24-Hour Customer: New Rules for Winning in a Time-Starved, Always-Connected Economy (HarperCollins, August 2010).
This article reflects the author’s opinion and does not represent those of clients and affiliates.
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