Ben Parr: Understand Your Audience’s Attention [VIDEO]

Understanding the frame of reference of your audience is the one key element that successful websites, journalists, and marketers possess. Earlier this month, Frank Gruber and Ben Parr sat down for DC Sessions, a conversation about Parr’s book, Captivology.

“When I went through all the research, I really found there are three stages of attention,” Parr shared. His book is the culmination reviewing over 1000 studies interviewing more than 50 luminaries including David Copperfield.

Immediate Attention

Immediate attention is the reaction that must protect us from danger. The honking of a horn, the sound of an explosion, or the act of being shouted at will capture immediate attention. To build a brand, though, you must deliver on a quality follow-up if you have grabbed an audience’s immediate attention. For instance, if you are using click-bait headlines in order to bring an audience to your content, you must provide what the consumer believes they were going to receive when they follow it.

“If you don’t deliver on that promise, what happens is that attention immediately dies.” Parr interviewed the YouTube team to discover their take on this sort of attention. “You have to, within the first fifteen seconds, and really in the first five seconds, you have to deliver on your promise of what the video is.” Your audience will leave if you have not shown them what you brought them in to see.

Short Attention

Your working memory system controls your short attention. This involves the concentration you will devote to something specific for a brief period. Disruptive methods and disruptive technology might be examples of things that will command attention for a moment, but startups looking to develop brand loyalty must continuously build on these pieces with the goal of building long attention.

Long Attention

This is the long-term interest we have in certain people, products, and ideas. It’s this kind of attention that a brand must aspire to. Building up to this level of attention causes your audience to seek you out, rather than vice versa. This takes time to build. This attention has the potential to last for a lifetime.

For instance, Beyonce was able to sell a platinum record by building a long attention over time with her audience. After working to build trust and a relationship for decades, she got to a point where she did not have to seek out her audience, rather, this album was sold primarily off one Instagram post.

Gruber and Parr discussed growth strategies for startups, Dominate Fund, the best way to pitch Ben Parr, and some of the celebrities that are mentioned in the book. Check out the full conversation here:


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Written by:
Previously the Managing Editor at Tech.Co, Ann Diab has a background of launching and nurturing of startups and tech companies. Empowering and educating entrepreneurs and startups to better productivity and culture is her passion. Growth Manager at WorkingOn to enable folks all over the world to enjoy work and improve communication. Follow me on Twitter.
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