The attention merchants of marketing

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Before Radio and TV, entrepreneurs had to market themselves through word of mouth.

Which means you had to be very good at your trade, so that a good word of mouth about you would spread.

When radio and TV were introduced, marketing became an attention game.

From then on, the attention merchants were let loose.

I’m not sure when our attitude to marketing shifted. But it is likely that it coincided with our ability to buy attention.

The price of reaching more eyes and ears on flyers and billboards, radio and TV, seemed cheap compared to the effort of earning customer loyalty day after day.

The attention game replaced the good-service-word-out-mouth game. Marketing has now become a contest for people’s attention.

The great marketers of two generations ago [before radio, TV, billboard etc] knew that a reputation could not be easily bought, but it could be quickly destroyed. They did not try to be seen. They devoted the majority of their time helping their customers to feel seen.

The best form of marketing still remains great service, treating your customers with care, empathy, respect, being customer-centric, doing work that connects and matters.

That is what the best marketers still do. They don’t shout, ‘look at me’. They whisper, ‘I see you’.

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