3 tips for getting your audience to digitally pay attention



My good friend Faris Yakob is one of the smartest marketing and advertising folks you’ll ever meet.

I just finished reading his book, Paid Attention, and I highly recommend it for anyone who runs a business or works in marketing. It’s a great glimpse at the soul of advertising and marketing.

A key takeaway from Paid Attention is that gaining the attention of your audience requires a holistic approach.

Here are 3 things Paid Attention teaches about how your business can get more organic consumer attention:

1. Create more acts of happiness

Small actions that make people happy in the real world can be very effective at generating attention.

A brand heavily invested in this model is Coca-Cola. Their unscripted viral video series, “Coca-Cola Happiness Machine,” featured vending machines dispensing surprising gifts. They captured true happy moments for both the participants and the fans watching.

“Coca-cola wanted to find ways to reach teens through social media, understand that content is not searched for but shared.”

The first of these videos featured a vending machine on a college campus that dispensed surprise gifts of happiness like a 6-foot long sandwich, pizza, or a bouquet of flowers.

Many of the gifts came in large volume and were therefore shared right away. The reactions were very human, big smiles, laughter, shocked faces. The original video cost $50, 000 and was viewed more than 6 million times on YouTube.

2. Become a platform

A platform is a vague term, even more so today than 2 years ago. You might think of Facebook, Etsy, email marketing or iPhones as a platform. You’re not wrong.

In Paid Attention, Faris talks about how brands have evolved from “a construct of messaging and perception” to a “guiding principle” that is related to a shared experience with a purpose.

He includes a great quote from Adrian Ho who said “brands aren’t just a way to describe ‘what you do,’ they are a way to describe ‘what we can do together’.”

As an example, Faris worked on a Nikon project, the launch of their first HD DSLR camera, the D5000. They were working with Ashton Kutcher a lot at the time, so Faris pitched an HD Film Festival that Ashton would kick off with a film of his own.

nikon film festival

The topic would be focused on Twitter and the entries would show “a day through their lens in 140 seconds.” Top prize was $100k. They expected a lot of responses with the big prize, but they got even more than they expected. They “received more than 48 hours of film, with a huge range of ideas.”

The French Nikon team, to this day, are still running a version of this film festival, 5 years later.

3. Understand that customer service is marketing

“Humans are like electricity, following the path of least resistance.” — Faris Yakob

Often it feels easier to complain on Twitter than wait on hold for thirty minutes to speak to someone on the phone about your problem.

Complaints are no longer “locked into an individual’s sphere of influence” as Faris says in his book.

With social media, each consumer’s voice can be magnified greatly, maybe even globally, as happened with United breaks guitars.

Faris defines two reactions that brands can take with today’s customer service reality:

  1. Act like one person doesn’t make a difference.
  2. Decide that customer service is the most important thing the company does. See Zappos.

If and when a business ultimately chooses option 2, customer service becomes marketing. A happy customer becomes an advertisement. And people pay attention.

Grab a copy of Faris’ book, Paid Attention and read more about how your business can break through modern marketing challenges and get people to digitally pay attention.


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