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Motivation and Distraction… Ooo Kittens


Motivation and Distraction… Ooo Kittens

19 January, 2022

If you’ve read any marketing books or articles in the past ten years, you would have seen a word peppered with abundance throughout the pages – engagement. Yes, businesses (and that includes you), must put in maximum effort to meet the demands of a more discerning audience to succeed.

It’s rubbish, of course; your audience isn’t necessarily more discerning; they’re just distracted. “Oh, look, kittens.”


Back in the days before the Internet and unlimited choice, marketers didn’t need to focus on engagement; they had a larger chunk of people’s attention and could use it how they saw fit. For instance, many people my age (a very young 50) love to harp on about how we only had three channels on our TV’s: “Not like you youngsters today. We were always out playing, only going home at tea time to watch Grange Gill”. It was a broadcast advertisers dream. (I daresay if you are of an older disposition you’ll probably remember some of the adverts clearer than the TV programmes.)

Truth be told, us oldies would love to have had Netflix, YouTube and the Internet. We’d have been just as discerning distracted. “Oh, look, puppies.”


But here we are; 2022, and there’s no getting away from the fact that engaging people is key for marketing. We need to share the hopes and dreams of our audience. We need to empathise and share world views… Or so they tell us.

Personally, I’m not so sure it’s that simple. Is any single individual – however loyal they profess to be – ever really going to buy into a brand for life, let alone align with it at a social level? Especially when there is a financial transaction in play and so many people are now used to free?

Me, me, me

One angle is that consumers (customers) generally seem to want everything their own way these days. We’re used to customising so much in our lives – ringtones, TV choices, 20 types of coffee and milk combo. We expect the world around us to be personalised, especially with the Internet offering unlimited choice.

  • Social media lets me choose who I follow and what I like.
  • I can watch one of a thousand TV shows whenever and wherever I like.
  • If I don’t know something, I google it in seconds.

The result is a ‘me, me, me and what about me’ culture and technology is an amazing enabler. We can see the news as it happens anywhere in the world (well, most places anyway). We can connect with like-minded people from any country. This doesn’t necessarily make things better or worse, of course – it just changes the distortion.

100-years ago, we were limited to choose from whatever was in our town. That was our distorted worldview. Then cars delivered a road network, creating easier travel, distribution and connections. This in turn evolved rapidly as we began to collaborate; sharing products, services and ideas. The world connected, and everything sped up.

Take entertainment, which came in the form of the local picture house or dancehall. This evolved through radio and TV in our homes, and now the Internet anywhere we get connection. The distribution mechanism evolved from records, tapes and discs, to instant delivery on a personalised handheld smart device, where you could just as easily listen to some obscure South American music as a chart-topping pop star.

So, how does this all actually affect you and marketing a small business? Well, in a world of abundance, we need to start with us, us, us.

Money Talks

I’ve read a lot of books about business and marketing over the years and they always choose the rock stars. You don’t hear about the myriad of failures, just companies like Apple, Nike and Google. The marketing case studies focus on consumer companies or fast-growing tech brands. It’s hard to relate.

Let’s assume that’s not us. Let’s assume we are just run-of-the-mill businesses doing the best we can in our sector. Yes, we may innovate to a fashion, but we are just trying to get by and improve, increase sales and deliver quality. How does that equate to discerning or distracted customers?

Well, let’s not forget we are here to make a transaction. So, it makes sense, that we focus on creating the motivation for that to develop.

Our job, as a selling business – with or without a marketing function – is to motivate people to buy from us. It’s time to forget about engagement for engagement’s sake – which is what a lot of marketing has become.


Listen to marketers and they will tell you content is king. But, will a Blog really motivate your audience? Do free web tools or email or social media posts? Too often in marketing, the delivery mechanisms themselves are seen as the draw – as if people are looking for the cherry on top of the cake, rather than the cake itself. But how can any of that trump service delivery or product quality?

Yes, it’s true that not always the best product wins, and Apple is often cited in this respect as not being the very best despite being the largest. To be fair they have never advertised that they are, but their products and levels of customer service are incredibly remarkable. It’s the complete package. Marketing, in itself, would not be enough. (There I go referencing Apple like the very books I criticised above.)

Listening and understanding

The focus, therefore, needs to be to talk less and listen more – stuff we already know. We need to understand what our products and services actually deliver and why – what problems do we solve, and for who. And, how can we improve on that?

In the same way that the long-tail demonstrates a wide range of decisions in play, the reasoning behind client motivations will not all be the same. But when you know who buys what you have and why – really why not just some marketing fluff – you’ll understand how to sell and market what you have, and to who.

So we arrive back where we started – engagement. Yes, it’s essential, but it’s not just about messaging and the way you speak to people. Alignment, especially for longer-term relationships, actually happens at the product/service level for businesses like us. It’s not about making people like you. It’s about attracting customers to engage with you for mutual benefit. Fundamentally, engagement is about listening.

  • Understand why people buy what you sell.
  • Learn to adapt your offering further to suit your key audience – this may require a two-way education process.
  • Learn which clients don’t fit the mould and lose them.
  • Delve into the motivations of what’s left to understand how to attract more of the same.
  • Rinse and repeat.
  • Oh, and happy new year << Test First Name >>

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