Chapter 10: Impacting Customers Even When They Are Not Paying Attention

The main goal of this chapter is to make your advertisements and commercials so powerful that they have an impact and produce results whether or not consumers are even paying attention to them. Let's face it, marketing including ad creation and media buys, can get expensive. You can afford to spend good money on that and not realise a good return and a good return starts with creating ads that impact brains. Even when those brains are not paying attention.

Chapter 10: Impacting Customers Even When They Are Not Paying Attention
Impacting Customers Even When They Are Not Paying Attention

Let's start by looking at how people behave at the receiving end of advertising and why so many of them are not paying attention to the ads. It's interesting to observe people as they watch a traditional television broadcast.

Watch what viewers do when a commercial comes on, chances are they will turn their attention elsewhere. They will literally turn their heads away from the screen and towards something or someone else in the room. They'll engage in some other activity such as picking up some reading material, checking their email or text messages, letting the dogs out, conversing with someone, visiting the bathroom or kitchen, or just glancing out the window.

Next time you're watching a television program with other people in the room, see how long it takes for someone to begin speaking when a commercial comes on.

People have been conditioned to converse with one another during commercials, it never fails. I'll bet you someone in the room will begin speaking within 5 seconds from when the first commercial begins almost every time. 

Of course, this happens if they're watching a live broadcast, it doesn't happen if the program has been previously recorded in which case the viewer grabs are remote and skips through the commercials. Whatever the case they are not paying much attention to the commercials.
Watch how people read traditional printed newspapers, if they're reading an article on page 5 and at the bottom of the page it says continued on page 25, they flip to 25 and continue reading the article. They don't go through the paper page by page reading all the ads they'll come across and all those other pages in between 5 and 25.

Watch how people consume website content or reader downloaded magazine, they navigate around any ads that are in the way of the content and spam, does anyone even open that stuff up, to begin with.

However, advertising, in general, does work, or marketers wouldn't be spending good money on it. A certain percentage of the time people do pay some attention to advertising if we piece together various research studies that have been done on a subject we can conclude that roughly 20% or 1% of 5 is paying attention to the average ad or commercial from amongst those that are exposed to it.

Of course, that means 80% of the people are not paying attention to an ad or commercial each time they are exposed to it. Does a 20% attention level surprise you? Most industry professionals in advertising or the media that I've mentioned this 20% figure to are surprised it's that high.

Most guess the attention level will be closer to 10%, seems my 20% estimate is very generous but will use it as a working number anyway. Most of the time at least 80% of the time, people simply do not pay conscious attention to advertising. We call this lack of attention inattention.

When the brain is in a state of inattention with regard to a certain subject matter that person is said to be in the inattentive state.

Have you ever driven past the highway exit you intended to use, with regard to your driving you were in the inattentive state at the same time, you were probably in the attentive state with regard to something else.

Perhaps you were talking to a passenger, talking on the phone, or thinking about a current problem. 

Let's examine why the inattentive state exists with regard to advertising. This will help us develop a way to deal with it there are three main causes of inattention with regard to advertising. 

First inattention exists because of a mental function called state default. Inattention is a relaxed state which normally dominates unless overridden by a more powerful stimulus.

In the absence of overriding stimuli, the brain defaults into the inner attentive state, since advertising is not important to most people most of the time, their brains assign it a low value.

A value that is not usually strong enough to switch the mind into an attentive state when exposed to an ad or commercial.

The second reason why people are in an inattentive state most of the time is that they deliberately planned to divert their attention in the first place. Have you ever had a television radio or internet on, even though you were consciously paying attention to something else, you're cleaning the house, playing cards, working, or eating perhaps? Wallpaper video it's called when a television is on or the internet is streaming yet no one is really paying any conscious attention to it and radio has been used as background for years sometimes we even read by glancing at a few words here and there and not really thinking about any other.

Thirdly, the inattentive state exists with regard to advertising simply because people don't want to pay attention to advertising. It's a choice, in other words, people choose to put their attention on other things most of the time.

Now let's see how marketers have been dealing with the inattentive state. The first three strategies were going to look at have been used for years.

The fourth strategy is the new one, let's start with the Ostrich strategy, as incredible as it may seem many marketers do absolutely nothing about the fact that the majority of people they're paying to reach are not paying any attention to their ads.

In fact, these marketers ignore the lack of attention completely, choosing to pretend that most people are really paying attention to their ads.

Advertising agencies and media outlets tend to reinforce this false belief. What ad agency after all is going to tell their client they've just produced an expensive series of commercials that the vast majority of people will pay no attention to.

And what media outlet is going to point out that all those viewers, listeners, or readers that they claim to have been paying attention to the programming or the editorial content but not to the advertisements.

Consequently, many marketers function as though everything they do will have a major impact that customers will be hanging on every word they say and respond in droves. Of course, most of the time nothing even close to that actually happens.

Another popular strategy to overcome the lack of attention is the clutter buster strategy. The idea is to attract attention by having your ad or commercial jump out from all the others that surround it.

In order words, your ad must somehow bust through the clutter to be noticed. The clutter being all the other ads or commercials.

This means every advertiser considers every other advertiser's ads to be the clutter. In the eyes of other advertisers,  your ads are the clutter that they are trying to bust out of.

Since every marketer is trying to break through the clutter of every other marketer, the net result is close to zero. Like all the runners in a pack deciding to put on a burst of speed at once to break away.

The entire pack moves faster but it is still a pack, it may not even be possible to burst through the clutter anyway, because whatever attention-getting stunt you might try, it is going to be mitigated out in the marketplace.

Thanks to the exaggerated violence and sex and movies, video games, and on the internet, people have seen it all and they are desensitized to most of it. 

Now you could try the bang away strategy.

If only one person out of 5 is paying conscious attention to an ad each time it runs, why not run the ad or commercial five times and thereby catch everyone in the attentive state at least once.

The frequency which refers to running an ad multiple times is an important part of advertising. If you are not running your ads with healthy frequency, chances are you are falling short of the results threshold, of course you know that and you are running your ads with healthy frequency. 

Now what? how do you increase your effectiveness even further?

Do you simply increase the frequency even further?

Well, the higher frequency can equal higher effectiveness to a point.  But you will reach the point of diminishing returns before long. And all that additional exposure isn't going to do anything except burn through the budget awkwardly fast. 

So, the Ostrich strategy, the clutter buster strategy, and the bang away strategy all come up short and frankly, I don't recommend them.

I do recommend this next strategy however, this is the one that will truly cause your advertising to have an impact whether people are paying attention to it or not. It's called the simul conscious strategy.

The idea is to program your ads and commercials for people in the inattentive state as well as for people who are in the attentive state.

Then it doesn't matter what state the receiver is in, attentive or inattentive, the ad makes an impact either way. When you implement the simul conscious strategy, you actually design your ad or commercial to penetrate and impress the conscious mind which takes care of those who are paying attention, and the subconscious mind which affects those not paying attention and you do both simultaneously.

Preparing your advertising for people in the attentive state is easy, that's what you're already doing, preparing your ads for people in the inattentive state is not any difficult but it is different.

It may even seem a bit awkward at first, when you program your head or commercial for inattentive reception you're utilising certain elements which penetrate the subconscious.

Affecting the subconscious mind is vitally important because:

A, most often it's the subconscious mind that controls wants and desire, and B it's those cumulative impressions building up in a subconscious that control top of mind awareness, both are important factors in demand creation.

Here is why the simul conscious strategy works so well, people in the inattentive state are only inattentive on the conscious level.

All the while their subconscious mind remains wide open for impression, consider what happens at the receiving end of a television or internet commercial starting with a typical non-simul consciously constructed commercial.  

The attentive viewer will be consciously aware of whatever appears on the screen and is contained on the audio track, they see it, they hear it, I'm not saying the attentive viewer is studying or scrutinizing every detail but they are consciously aware of the message and the brand.

With the inattentive viewer, it's another story, although portions of the video enter his or her eyes and portions of the audio enter their ears, the conscious part of the brain is unaware of this, the person's conscious mind is otherwise occupied, engaged in something else at the time not focused on the commercial.

Since the commercial was designed strictly for conscious reception, that commercial made no impression on the mind of the inattentive viewer even though they were exposed to it. 

Why didn't the commercial make an impression on the inattentive viewer, because the commercial was not constructed with the purpose of penetrating the subconscious? It was constructed under the assumption that people will be paying attention to it which as we know happens only 20% of the time at the most. 

Now look what happens when we use a simul consciously constructed commercial, for the attentive viewer the commercial appears no different from the non-simul constructed commercial, that is the differences wouldn't likely be detected by the viewer. Remember attentive viewers of a commercial are not scrutinizing it, just paying nominal attention.

The inattentive viewer on the other hand may not even be aware of the commercial, they're paying no attention to it but here's where things begin to differ.

With our simul consciously constructed commercial, certain material from the video and audio penetrate their subconscious mind and make valuable impressions whether the viewer is aware of this or not.

Let me be perfectly clear, what I'm suggesting with this simul conscious strategy has nothing to do with subliminal perception.

The simul conscious strategy and subliminal perception are two different things entirely. When you program a message for subliminal perception, you specifically design it to bypass the conscious mind and go straight to the subconscious. 

An example would be those self-improvement audios that present you with soft music or ocean waves. Embedded in the music of ocean waves is verbiage that you can't hear consciously that is but your subconscious hears it and presumably acts upon it.

In this case, the behaviour affecting the message has been prepared for perception by the subconscious mind only.

With the simul conscious strategy, you do not attempt to bypass the conscious mind at all.

There are no subliminal messages which the receiver can't detect consciously. With subliminal perception, you predetermine your message will be received on a subconscious level then you design it that way like putting your voice at an inaudible level below the heart music.

With simul consciousing you don't predetermine what level conscious or subconscious it will be received on, rather each person receiving the ad or commercial determines for themselves whether they received it consciously or subconsciously based on whether they're paying attention to it or not. 

Here is a really good example: 

Have you ever caught yourself humming or singing a particular song at a time when you were not actually hearing the song, in other words, a song is playing in your mind.

You probably heard that song hours or days earlier, yet you don't remember hearing it. You were in the inattentive state at the time you heard the song, yet it made an impression on your subconscious, and here you are humming it sometime later.

Please note that the song was not some kind of subliminal piece of information, it was perfectly audible and the conscious level even though you weren't hearing it on that level.

Ever catch yourself singing a commercial jingle, the same thing happened, or how about verbally repeating something you heard or read sometime before, you can't remember where you heard it or where are you saw it but now you're talking about it.

Here's how your simul conscious works:

You recall from an earlier chapter when we discussed preprocessing, that only certain pieces of information penetrate the subconscious mind and make an instant impression.

All the other stuff information that the brain cannot handle without consciously processing it gets rejected most often. Well, there are three pieces of information that are powerful enough to make subconscious impressions on people in the inattentive state.

We call them the simul conscious ad elements, you're already familiar with two of them, your preprocess word and your brand name. Hopefully, you've already gone preprocessing and you've Incorporated your preprocess word into your logo, if not you may want to review chapter 5. 

The third simul conscious ad element is one we haven't talked about before. It's your point line, a point line is a one-sentence explanation or summary of what you're trying to get across in your advertisement for a commercial. It's the gist of the message for example State Farm runs ads and commercials with the point line: State Farm sells life insurance. That's about a perfect point line as I've ever seen. It's straight and well to the point. In a different commercial, the point line is:  State Farm agents are there when you need them. A little longer but still straight and to the point.

Let's say someone asked me to summarise this entire chapter, my one-sentence summary or point line would be:

You don't need their attention.

I could have more words I suppose I could say:

You don't need their attention to make an impact but usually the shorter the better, so I'll stick with: You don't need their attention as my point line for this session.

How do the three simul conscious ad elements infiltrate the subconscious mind when all the other elements that comprise an ad or commercial don't, you know how the preprocessed word penetrate, it's already in the person's subconscious and it's already deemed to be of some importance to them. If this isn't the case, you need to find a better preprocess word then because your brand name or logo is linked to your preprocess word, it rides the preprocess word coattails right into the subconscious.

In fact, the two go right in as one piece of information.

Your point line can make it into the subconscious because people like pity one-sentence summaries that mean something almost like sayings that penetrate the subconscious and are recalled it will.

Benjamin Franklin said "A penny saved is.........?" you're completing the sentence because you've heard it before and you're repeating it now. Or what about "What goes up, must come down" or " If there is a will, there is a way" or "Been there, done that". You know these sayings well,  yet I'll bet you you can't tell me when or where you first heard them or even the last time you heard them.

Doesn't really matter how they got into your brain anyway, the fact is they made an indelible impression that you can recall effortlessly.

The brain loves pity one-sentence point lines that mean something, that's good news for you because you're going to create some really good point lines and your ads are going to sachet right into the impact zone.

Exactly how you incorporate the three simul conscious elements into your ads and commercials is critical and that's what will tackle in the next chapter, meet you there!