Even if you rarely pay attention to marketing, I’m confident you’ve heard this fact (or a variation): the average American sees or hears 3,500+ advertising and marketing messages a day.
As I write, I’m in New York City and I probably see well over 5,000 messages during my waking hours.
Here in the Big Apple, it seems every space anyone can see is available: sides of buildings… stairs on the subway… bus shelters… taxi interiors… elevator walls… restaurant bathrooms… jackets… beer glasses (I’m told).
Here’s an example from the turnstiles on the New York subway.
You see advertising on the lower part of the turnstile but look super-closely and you’ll see advertising on the actual turnstile bar—in pink.
Now let’s do the math
If I spend approximately 16 hours awake, that’s 960 minutes and thus, in New York City, I see, on average, some type of advertising message every 20 seconds—depending on where my day takes me.
Large corporations spend millions crafting ways to grab your attention. They hire large agencies and, together, they spend hours in meetings creating ads so you pay attention to them—and not the competition.
If you’re a small business owner or the marketing manager of a mid-size company, you don’t have to spend millions. You can spend a fraction of that. But the first step is understanding how to get people to pay attention to your message.
The secret is AIDA
As a direct response copywriter, my first responsibility is to work out a way to grab the reader’s attention. In fact, there’s a classic copywriting formula called AIDA.
I’ll focus on the ‘A’ in this article.
Sometimes it’s easy to get people’s attention
I just returned from the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.
In three halls, each the size of a jumbo jet hangar, 45,000 of my closest friends gathered to meet and conduct golf business.
I go because I write copy for a golf client.
It’s a challenge to differentiate one booth from another.
All the clothing booths look pretty much the same: beautiful clothes, beautiful people.
All the equipment booths look about the same: the latest clubs and balls with photos of the latest clubs and balls.
Some companies place young and attractive women outside the booth to garner attention; there’s no scientific data on the effectiveness of this tactic, but nobody at the show seems to complain.
At the 2014 show, Callaway used this tactic to get my attention.