The Attention Window (and PWF)

Why does Coca Cola sell so easily, but your product needs hours or even months to get a sale?

One reason is the attention window. The attention window is the amount of mental space needed from a buyer before they will consider buying your product.

A Coke needs just a moment, because they’ve demonstrated over your lifetime a consistent product delivering what you expect. A Mercedes is a bit more expensive, but it has a smaller window than most other cars: if price were no object, many people would default to a Mercedes.

The attention window is important to understand because every channel allows for a different size message. Just look at your Google Analytics: organic traffic will usually stay far longer on your page than paid search traffic, even though they both come from Google.

Product Window Fit is often a prerequisite to Product Market Fit. You’ll know you have PWF when your overly complicated broad vision for your product actually results in sales. But the bigger the window, the more difficult to scale the channel. When one channel gets exhausted, you’ll need to either find a new channel with a large enough window, or compress your message into a more digestible format.

Incidentally this is one reason why startups fail to cross the chasm: early on they can get visionary customers (larger natural window) through the CEO’s network (larger window) to understand their product (confusing.) When they try to cross the chasm, they find a channel with a smaller window and prospects with a smaller window still. Their product is the same, but it no longer fits through the new windows.

You can delay the chasm somewhat with two easy tactics everyone ignores: effective lead nurturing and one hour of content on your site.

Effective lead nurturing isn’t weekly spam for your salespeople asking for a meeting, or weekly spam from your marketers with a “newsletter” sharing your exciting new features. These grow your message when you want to grow the window.

Effective lead nurturing builds trust with prospects over time by delivering emails they actually want. When you do this, you move in their mind from their circle of strangers to their circle of familiars. This grows the window.

How much content is on your site? Most SaaS companies should have about one hour of ungated content.

Most buyers won’t give you an hour of attention when they find your website, but those who consider you more than a stranger just might. A website with this information waiting will be invaluable for that subset, and you will increase revenue.

Most content marketing is focused on long tail keywords, which can be useful to get strangers to pay attention to you for a moment. But more and more, companies write long form articles that educate their audience on the unknown unknowns. This is the content that wins with familiars, because they will open their window to your other unknown unknowns.

At scale, to make your product fit through the new windows, you can try to make your messaging more obvious, pivot your product to match the worldview of your new customers, or just brute force marketing to build the trust that will increase the size of existing windows.

But you can’t ignore the window.


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