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  • Tyler Sirman

Keeping Your Customer's Attention

These days, it’s hard to capture someone’s attention for more than a couple minutes. These are my observations, tips, and thoughts on capturing and keeping people’s attention.

As someone who spends hours upon hours carefully crafting videos, putting creative spins, shooting a specific way, and polishing, it is surprising that most people stop watching after two minutes. Regardless of the content, the way of YouTube, and the way we watch videos has changed. It continues to change. What I’ve learned by standing back and really sitting with that thought brings some ideas to light. First, that there is more than watch time and engagement. Second, that quantity and quality need to work together, and finally, the importance of purpose and intent.

Hopefully I haven’t lost you. If your business puts out any sort of video content, then if you haven’t guessed, this is for you. If you don’t yet produce any videos for your business – you should. I needn’t go into the reasons, but it is the way of the future. Feel free to reach out and pick my brain about producing some videos.

Greater Purpose

My first takeaway, and thus, lesson, about your customer’s attention is related to their investment. And by this I mean a combination of their time investment, brand loyalty, and connection to your product/service. A person’s attention level is directly tied to how much they can connect and relate to any given thing, and so my lesson is this: create content to connect, and then to sell.

My marketing background tells me that emotional responses are the strongest motivators in advertising. The concept behind this is fascinating; the idea that we would feel more inclined to purchase something or feel connected to it if we attached a positive (and even a negative) emotion to it. It’s a hard thing to do in practice, but effective. So how do we do it? How, in our day to day operation, and in our advertising, can we evoke an emotion to improve sales?

The answer is in ensuring that your content has a greater purpose. That it is fueled by emotion, by passion, and by thought. When you, as a business owner/operator or advertiser input passion, and set a clear purpose for the content you create, there’s a really good chance your customers will feel attached or invested in it as a result. The best example I can think of is the Marvel movies. Beyond the CGI, the great movies, the great actors, is a compelling universe that is energized by a genuine excitement to tell these stories. They also map out those movies in such a way that you somewhat forced to be invested in those stories. The greater purpose is to tell great stories, but the side effects are invested customers and ticket sales.

So, ask yourself, or your team – what is the greater purpose of this content? Does it evoke an emotion? Does it ask people to be invested in our brand? These kinds of questions will guide you in creating great stories, and the side effect as a result will be sales and as you may have guessed – more attention in watching the content you produce in the future.

Quantity vs Quality

When it comes to making videos, there is a healthy balance between quantity and quality. Producing lots of videos costs money and time, and so for most, it doesn’t make tons of sense to go for quantity, especially if it feels like they don’t perform as planned. Quality has to be given – every client wants their video to look the best it can, but again, the cinch point seems to be access to equipment, knowledge, etc. . So the balance from an operational standpoint is cost related – but look beyond that. From an attention standpoint, and ultimately, from a sales standpoint, reaching a balance between quantity of views and interactions, and the quality of those, is where you should put your marbles.

YouTube’s algorithm works in funny ways, and one of the clearest observations I’ve made is that the algorithm, which has been developed over years and billions of videos, favors the balance of quantity of views, view time, and engagement. If any given video has some views, and those views last longer than 2 or 3 minutes, and the person shares it afterwards, there’s a good chance it will perform well in the future – and as a result show higher in their searches, etc..

The lesson here is that the key to getting people’s attention, and keeping it – is reliant on how other people interact with it, but not necessarily how many people interact with it. If we take one more layer off, it isn’t about creating tons of content, or getting tons of views – but instead asking (or forcing) customers to interact with your content, and for long enough. And the views will follow.

Another example, and I hate that I’m bringing it up, is the photos on facebook that say “the smartest percent of people can solve this math question”.

Feeling: curiousity…”am I the smartest 3%?” engagement: “I will solve this problem” interaction “I will comment the answer”.

One post that draws in millions of responses and engagement…and they aren’t even selling anything. Balance quantity of engagements (lots) with quality of interactions (a few minutes, with a one word comment). The questions to ask: is my content evoking an interaction? Is my content pushing people to a place where they can engage?

I’ll be clear: this is not about making controversial content to create conversation and drive engagement, views, etc….but those usually do the trick as well (but aren’t good for business and reputation).

Purpose and Intent

The single driving factor behind all of your content is that it has to have a reason to exist. I discussed greater purpose, but this is about the end goal. Many times, I have created content just to fill my Instagram feed. Just because. And don’t get me wrong, there is a place and time for that. But the lesson here is to create with intent and purpose. If that is to create some awareness…to keep the paint on your customer’s hands (this theory in an earlier post)…then great. The list of reasons to create is endless – just make sure that in every piece of content, you establish what purpose it serves. The easiest way to tackle something as huge as this concept is campaign by campaign, and accountability to yourself (I honestly need to get better at this, but hopefully you can learn from shortcomings).

Why this is so important is because people get bombarded with random ads and information at a blistering pace. The hope is that they can see something that has a reason to exist, they’re more inclined to be interested in it and pay attention to it. That’s why the YouTube subscription system works so well. Subscribe to content, because you see the purpose in it, and agree to see more of it (and are invested in it!)

And so this final thought comes with a bit of an exercise, which I’m sure will help. This weekend, the beginning of new month, try to set a purpose for every piece of content you create this month. Maybe it’s to drive sales before the holiday season. Maybe it’s to promote one angle of your business. Pick one thing you want to focus on and just let that shape your content this month.

In reality – the exercise is a big ask for anyone who’s anyone. It’s hard! And so I wanted to immediately follow with the cushion that even if you fail horribly at sticking to a single purpose behind your content, you’ve at least had the intent to – and the hope is that it marginally improves your content so it can start to cut through the noise and gather a bit more attention.


There is a lot to unpack here. And I gave away a lot of my knowledge. The hope is that you can take a concept away and start to weave it into your business. And I’d love to hear your thoughts, and/or how it goes. Customer attention is a huge concept, especially in the video world, where it continues to change. Hopefully, I’ve tackled a little bit of it for you and how I see content creation in a perfect world Through My Lens.

#yegbiz #biz #entrepreneur #advertising #millennial #ad #promotion #ideas

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