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The Wrong Kind of Attention

attention please

A business is built on attention. A restaurant can argue that their food is better, a painter can argue that his technique is superior to that of his nearest competitor, but when it comes to marketing your product or service, the objective measure of success is attention. An ad-supported website might need thousands, or even millions of clicks a day in order to stay viable. A freelancer or a B2B provider might be able to thrive on just two or three big clients. The attention we need to stay in business varies from one company to the next, but if nobody’s paying attention, then you don’t really have a business, you just have a bunch of cards with your name on them.

But there’s the right kind of attention and then there’s the wrong kind of attention, and no, we’re not just talking about bad press. Certainly you don’t want any scandals surrounding your company, but it could be that the very attention you’re seeking from the public is attention that isn’t doing you any good.

The Right Kind of Attention

Identifying the right kind of attention is easy enough. It’s a combination of “I’ll know it when I see it” and checking all of these boxes:

  • The attention is coming from a viable lead. You’re reaching someone who may become a follower, a subscriber, a customer, or a client;
  • Your brand is being presented appropriately;
  • You’re motivating meaningful engagement. This is what call-to-action closers and contact information are for. Reaching all the right people with the right message won’t do you much good if they don’t know how to “get in touch now for a free estimate.”

So that’s the right kind of attention, now how do we spot the wrong kind of attention?

Drive-by Traffic

It feels good to see a Facebook post get a lot of shares or a Youtube video getting a lot of views, but clicks alone don’t do us much good when it comes to closing sales, winning over clients or persuading people to subscribe for more content. Chasing big numbers can be helpful in drawing the right kind of attention, but if we’re just chasing clicks for the sake of clicks, we’re spinning our wheels. Superbowl ads are great for big, international brands like Pepsi and Nike. Most of us are catering to a much smaller niche or a local market, and any time and money spent reaching five million people is time and money we’re not spending reaching the five thousand, five hundred, or even just five people we need to be reaching.

Off-Brand Messaging

Getting a lot of attention can actually be detrimental if you’re sending the wrong message. Oftentimes this is exactly what happens when we’re chasing those big numbers. We dumb our message down and we misrepresent ourselves in the name of more and more views and clicks. Eventually our message reaches the right people, but it’s no longer the message they needed to hear. To put it one way: If you saw a plumbing crew re-enacting a Three Stooges bit on Facebook, you might share the video, but you probably wouldn’t hire them. What’s even worse is that once you’ve given people the wrong idea of what you’re about, you have to work twice as hard to correct the misunderstanding just to get back to where you were when nobody had ever heard of you. Make your content easy to read, engaging, entertaining, sure, but if you compromise what is actually being said, then there was no point in saying it in the first place.

Missed Opportunities

This one’s simple: If you have a chance to grab an audience’s attention, don’t squander it. Don’t leave people wondering who you are and what you do and how they can get in touch, make sure that you’re using the attention you’ve earned to generate real leads. Again: This is what call-to-action sign-offs are for, this is why Youtubers tell you to like, share and subscribe at the end of every video.

Big numbers are fun to look at, but if you chase attention for attention’s sake, it’s like running on a hamster wheel. You’ll get a great workout, but you’re going to wind up exactly where you’re already at, and running twice as hard won’t change that. Think of Apple: Your grandmother probably doesn’t use a MacBook, but Apple doesn’t mind that. Apple computers are for designers, influencers, artists, and they don’t need to chase after the average user. And, we’re betting, neither do you.

Successful marketing isn’t about reaching everyone, it’s about getting the right message to the right people, and that’s exactly what we can help you do at Writer Access.


Gilbert SGilbert S. has an extensive history as a professional and personal blogger, having maintained a blog for Julie Ann Amos at Exquisite Writing in the past and currently writing his own horror-comics themed blog on Tumblr.

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By WriterAccess

Freelancer Gilbert S

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