Let’s say you’re sitting in the audience, about to hear a speech on “Why Customers Buy”.
You’re expecting the presenter to introduce himself.
You’re expecting that presenter to say something about conversion and purchasing decisions.
You’re not 100% sure what to expect, but you’re not expecting what you’re seeing right now.
The speaker has grabbed a chair from the audience.
He’s saying something. Standing on the chair, sitting on it. And suddenly your brain can’t help but be riveted to what’s unfolding before you. And that’s because the speaker is pressing hard on your brain’s neurotransmitters. He’s getting your attention by doing something that’s so novel that you have no option, but to pay attention.
Attention: A combination of novelty and consequences!
To get a person’s attention—any person’s attention, you have a few minutes, perhaps even a few seconds. And if you break up attention into two distinct bits, you get two parts. Novelty. And consequences. The novelty comes first. It’s the part that holds your attention.
Suddenly, there’s this unusual thing unfolding in front of your eyes. And it’s not terribly unusual, but enough to get and keep your attention. The moment your brain is locked in, your curiosity ramps up.
And no matter whether you’re on a website, reading a book, or listening to a presentation, the same neurotransmitters kick in, starting of course with novelty. Remember the chair story? Well, that was novelty.
Instead of starting The Brain Audit presentation talking about conversion, I sit on a chair, stand up, sit, stand
And then after a few seconds of these antics, I ask the audience, “Who expected the chair to break?” None of the hands go up—obviously. Then I ask the question, “why didn’t the chair break?”
And then someone in the audience will invariably say, “It was built to take your weight”. Which, yes, is the right answer. The chair didn’t break because it’s built on science. It’s not supposed to break. And then we look at our marketing, and find that it breaks. We don’t know how or why it breaks, because there’s no science”
You see what’s happened? We moved from novelty right into consequences!
Novelty is nice. Novelty is needed. It’s what gets your attention, but then it’s time to sustain that attention. And that’s when the consequences storm through the door. But for consequences to exist, a problem must exist in the first instance. So once you bring up the problem, you then (and only then) explain the consequences.
And when we go back to the chair example, we see how the problem seems to have shown up
“With marketing you don’t have the science of a chair. It doesn’t work every single time. And so you spend a bit of money on advertising or write out a cheque for some Facebook campaign. But the results are far from consistent.
You hit, but more often you miss. You spend money here, there and everywhere and you’re not even sure what’s going to work for you. It’s frustrating, even debilitating, not knowing when you don’t get consistency. And yet the brain works on consistency. When we send out a consistent message, we get consistent result.
The reason why there’s such a hit and miss syndrome is because we don’t quite understand how the brain works. So how does the brain work?
See how novelty and consequence make a great act?
But first you have to understand what makes great novelty. And novelty mostly comes from two areas: analogies or stories. The moment you understand how to tell dramatic stories, you can immediately create novelty.
The same applies to analogies. But like everything in life, you can tell stories in a great way, or make it utterly boring. The chair analogy stands out because it’s unusual.
If a presenter had to start with an analogy of “building your house on rocky vs. sandy ground”, for example, the audience would fall asleep, because they’re more than likely to have heard that analogy before. So your novelty has to be built around something that’s pretty every day in nature, yet different enough to get attention.
And once you get to consequences, there’s also scope to go off target
Most of us get so enamoured with the consequences of the problem, that we forget that we have to stay on a narrow track. Your audience is locked in because you’ve just told them they’re wasting money and they don’t know how to stop this crazy expenditure. At this point, it’s easy to go off track into a completely different set of consequences.
But you’ve got to stick with what happens next
What happens when you spend all that money? How does it impact your future decisions? How do you feel when things go wrong? These are all consequences of a SINGLE action. And staying on track is critical to keep that attention. If you get distracted and head into several consequences, you’ll quickly lose the audience.
Let’s take another example of attention and consequences
In a presentation on “pricing”, I will start the presentation with a video of New Zealand. There you are, waiting for the presenter to talk about pricing and he’s talking about “three month vacations”. But that’s the novelty. And it’s tied right back to why you struggle to take those vacations. The reason? Sure, it’s the prices you’ve been charging.
And then it’s time for the consequences of lower prices
How you have to work twice as hard to get the same results. How you get more tired, never having time to upgrade your skills. How those lack of skills cause clients to choose others with superior skills. And then you have to work so hard just to stay in place, that a vacation, let alone a three month vacation seems like a distant dream.
So how do you increase your prices? And how do you pull off this trick without losing customers?
Attention and consequences are powerful allies.
Used well they get and keep attention.
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