Let’s face it. Distractions are everywhere today. As Dr. Pamela Rutledge of the Media Psychology Research Center observes, today “We live in a socially-networked, transmedia world.”
In other words, it’s a space with a lot of people in it who have a lot of interesting things to say.
Distractions are everywhere.
Your audience gets distracted easily. That’s not a judgement on your communications skills. It’s just the way things are.
As Harvard psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert point out in their 2010 study: “people spend 46.9 percent of their waking hours thinking about something other than what they’re doing.”
Some worry that all these distractions are making us kind of, well, dumb. For instance, Nicholas Carr (essayist and author of “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”) warns that “we are evolving from cultivators of personal knowledge into hunters and gatherers in the electronic data forest.”
Old methods don’t work anymore.
Age-old marketing disruptors don’t work anymore. The market is changing in terms of demographics, media savviness, in how people connect, and also what they use to do that. It’s reshaping the way people make choices. Despite all the handwringing you might see in some circles, the problem today isn’t that people don’t read. It’s that they have more choices. Possibly even too many choices.
There’s also a very healthy collection of research in the area of cognitive load and human behaviour all suggesting that the risks of so-called information overload are very real and can play a role in turning off an audience from your message if what you have to say strikes them as being too demanding of their time.
It doesn’t have to be as bad as all that.
What you can do to help your audience.
When you recognize something as a problem, you find solutions that are tailored to address that problem.
Since people are busy and easily distracted, make it easier for them to do business with you. The number-one place to start doing that is in your marketing content, whether it’s online material or hard-copy collateral.
Use succinct, enticing headlines to draw attention to your content.
Use plenty of subheadings to help break up your ideas into smaller chunks of knowledge.
Challenge yourself to find ways to say more with fewer words.
Be consistent and persistent in what you have to say. This is often harder to do than you might think.
Make good use of infographics and professionally developed charts to explain complex data.
Don’t confuse simplifying with dumbing down. People appreciate elegant solutions to tough problems.
Professional copywriters, editors and content marketing specialists can help you with these steps to help you attract an audience and grow your message.
People embrace ideas best when they gain things that matter to them.