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John Hagel on Attention Scarcity and its Effect on Marketing

Live from the Corante Innovative Marketing Conference — John Hagel set the challenge for the second round of table discussions. In short, the challenge he posed is: The new scarcity = attention; there has been a profound shift in busienss economics from shelf space as the key scarce resource to people’s time and attention and the key scarce resource. So what does this do to/for (because there’s opportunity as well as challenge) to branding, marketing, metrics?

Live from the Corante Innovative Marketing Conference — John Hagel set the challenge for the second round of table discussions.

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In short, the challenge he posed is: The new scarcity = attention; there has been a profound shift in busienss economics from shelf space as the key scarce resource to people’s time and attention and the key scarce resource.

So what does this do to/for (because there’s opportunity as well as challenge) to branding, marketing, metrics?

According to John, marketing was formerly based on the three I’s — Intercept, isolate, inhibit — and instead it should be based on the three A’s: attract, assist (develop understandingn of context both pre and post purchase); affiliate (mobilize people to help deliver value)

This, says John, is an inexorable move from product and vendor centric promises (buy from me because I have great products or because I am a great vendor) to a customer-centric promise (buy from me because I know you as an individual customer beter than any one else and you can trust me to confiugure the right bundle of products and services to fill your needs as they evolve over time).

Not for every company, but those who are able to do this will be able to create the most powerful brands and create the more value from those brands

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Scarcity of attention wil lead to new performance metrics, from products or facility economics to customer economics — one of which would be what’s the 80/20 segmentation in your customers?

The new metrics would be:

ROA — return on attention — what is the productivity of that attention?

ROI — return on information — how much effort am I investing in acquiring information about inidividual customers and how much value am I generating in return? (According to John, at this time companies don’t deliver much value on this information for our companies or our customers)

There are three ways companies are messing this up:

1. Vendors want to grab on to as much of the scarce attention as possible, vs putting themselves in the customer’s place — customers are faced with similar challenges in getting, receiving attention that they need from vendors

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Russ Klein’s social currency — creating opportunities for their customers to relate to others — speaks to the way this can be done right.

2. Move from a broad notion of attention to economies of intention; those who stay focused on attention rather than intention are going to be the ones who win

3. Focus narrowly on the new tools that technology has created….people are grabbing onto these vs stepping back and saying how can we use these? What companies should say is, “there are a lot of these online social environments already in place…how can we help our customers find and connect to these environments? Where are there truly unmet needs where we can use these tools?”

John’s conclusion — the essence of making this an opportunity instead of a challenge is about mindset, the assumptions that we bring to business about what’s required for success. Everything else stems from that….. it’s an organizational change challenge; we must engage with the organization and make this organizational change work.

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