Are you paying attention yet? There’s a good reason why you may not be getting the attention you are looking for.

Well this is my first foray into the Medium space, and I am very excited to be sharing with you my views and experience on various topics within the FMCG world and convenience channels, starting with the importance of attention.

​Ever wonder, why you do not get the attention you feel you deserve. I do all the time, particularly when you are trying to engage people in the project you are working on and passionate about. You know you have something of value to offer, yet for some reason no one is listening or they are too busy to listen, right!

Well it may not be you it may not even be the person you are trying to reach out to, it more than likely has a lot to do with how we are all programmed these days.

There is a lot more being thrown at us today than there was, 10, 20 or 30 years ago, and our capacity to filter and disregard or absorb information in a shorter period of time has become greater.

I can recall the day that I stepped out of corporate life and into the world of entrepreneurship, bullish about the opportunities ahead of me on the back of comments from people I had worked with over many years. Within days after my foray into the great unknown the phone stopped ringing and the emails dried up. Long gone were the days when I would go to a meeting for an hour only to be faced with 30 emails in my inbox and a dozen call backs on my message service. The fact of the matter was that I did not have their attention anymore.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your message is or even how great your brand or product is, before you can tell someone how great you are you need their attention first. Attention is the asset that we are all battling with both internally and externally.

So why is it so difficult to get attention in todays business environment and how many opportunities are being missed as a result? Well the second part of that question is very subjective, however the first part has a lot to do with how we humans are wired today.

Just look at the amount of information we consume in a day from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep, and you can start to understand why attention is increasingly difficult to obtain. As a race, we have become very skilled at filtering information quickly as a result of social media and the Internet.

As much as we have so many forms of contact available to us, we also have the ability to screen and filter information much more effectively, making us less contactable. If you are a parent of a teenager, you will know that a phone call is a waste of time and you get a better response rate from a text. So is social media making us less social and adding to the attention debate?

The mobile phone is now the primary device in our society with over 50% of every person’s time on the planet spent on social networks. The one thing that connects us all is attention.

The chances are that when you woke up this morning you reached for your phone to check email, voice mail or check out what is happening in the world of Facebook and Instagram. More than likely you either skimmed through the news of the day on your device as you travelled to work or watched a bit of live streaming before sitting down at your desk to start your day. Have you ever watched a Gen Y checking out their Facebook or Instagram feed of their couple of thousand so-called friends?

I mean, take television advertising and ask yourself, how many hours of live TV do you watch on a daily basis. If you are being completely honest, most of us don’t watch live TV much at all in our busy lifestyles, we watch pre-recorded shows. Admit it, even when you are watching your pre-recorded shows, how many of you are flicking past the commercials. The phone is now the television and the television is now the radio.

According to a scientific study in 2015 out of Canada, humans now have a shorter attention span than Goldfish. Researchers surveyed 2,000 participants in Canada and studied the brain activity of 112 others using electroencephalograms. The results showed the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in 2000, or around the time the mobile revolution began, to eight seconds. Meanwhile Goldfish are believed to have an attention span of nine seconds*.

The culprit in all of this according to the same research is the smartphone and the wealth of information that we as humans are now consuming on a daily basis. While digital lifestyles have decreased sustained attention overall, it’s only true in the long-term. Early adopters and heavy social media users front load their attention and have more intermittent bursts of high attention. They’re better at identifying what they want/don’t want to engage with and need less to process and commit things to memory.

So if you are still reading this article then I congratulate you, as you are an exception to the rule when it comes to attention. The real question is that if attention is the asset, and you know through your own actions that filtering is impacting on your ability to engage with your target audience then maybe the way you have always operated and marketed yourself needs to change.

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