A not-so-good movie with a great concept came out in 2011 called In Time. The film presents a world that treats time as a currency, with denizens trading minutes, hours, and years for products and services.

While the movie wasn’t the best, the idea of viewing time as a currency is worth noting.

And attention equals time.

As marketing expert Seth Godin says in his fantastic work, This Is Marketing, “Attention is a precious resource [emphasis added].” 

Because time is a precious resource, it can be frustrating when people try to steal our attention. By “stealing,” I mean anything that is meant to grab your attention without adding any real value.

Big brands try to steal our attention all the time — streaming services suggest movies and TV shows that have nothing to do with our preferences or viewing history, fast food restaurants interrupt their background music with advertisements about their products, and some gas stations insist that you watch and listen to ads while you’re pumping gas.

Spammers are also great examples of time thieves.

What businesses often forget is that capturing someone’s attention is a privilege, not a right.

If you as a marketer or business owner can understand this, you are more likely to put out valuable content. For instance, you can use your social media channels, blog, and other marketing content to give people something worth their time.

So, what are some ways you can avoid stealing your audience’s attention?

1. Make relevant content for your audience

Your product or service isn’t for everyone. It can’t be. As such, you should create material that has to do with the people it is for. 

And if you don’t know the audience your product is for, please figure it out before you make any content. Putting out content with no audience in mind is an effective way to waste people’s time with the content you produce. What niche market is your company perfectly qualified to serve? 

“My product is for everyone,” isn’t a thing. Find your niche, and you’ll have a framework around which you can build relevant content.

2. Teach people something

Give away info on what you’ve learned. What do you know that you think your customers might find useful? If you were in your customers’ shoes, what would you want to know? Educating others based on your expertise will help build trust and prove the value you can bring to them. 

3. Reach people at the right time

Meet your target audience at their point of need. For instance, suppose you give away an eBook in exchange for a user’s email address. In it, you teach readers about something related to your industry. Someone who downloads this is likely to have a need to learn about your field. 

One way to reach them is to take the email address they gave you in exchange for the eBook and email them soon afterwards with links to other helpful resources you’ve created. 

4. Solve a problem

Understand the common problems your customers face and figure out ways to address each one. How-to guides, FAQ pages, and educational blog posts are all effective ways to do this. 

Wrapping up

We’re only given so much time on Earth, so please don’t steal your customers’ attention. Make content that is worth their while, and they’ll be delighted. But if someone ever feels like you are spamming them or “over advertising” to them, they may never come back. 

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