Ask anyone with a product or a service to sell online what their top marketing priority is and the answer you’ll probably hear the most often is “visibility.”
The web is a big place. At last count there were over two billion web sites. Being on a big retail site often doesn’t help much either, as those sites have millions of products. Analysts describe the situation as one of inadequate curation, but the truth is getting visible is crucial. Customers can’t buy a product if they don’t know it exists.
But visibility is only part of the equation. Experienced marketers know it is just the first step in an economy based on attention, which is ultimately far more valuable. Attention can do things visibility can’t. If you are marketing, selling or developing a business online, here are some things to consider.
All business activity, and especially the activity online, falls somewhere on the attention spectrum:
What attention does, that visibility doesn’t, is create a full value customer. This means you have someone who is not only interested in buying from you today, they also want to buy from you tomorrow.
This is vitally important for any business. Just look at any business with a subscription model. Subscriptions are attention formalized into a business transaction. Most companies prefer the value of passive income every month, even if it is less, rather than having to invest again and again in selling one-offs to customers they can only attract through expensive advertising.
It has been often observed that an independent business with a minimal expense structure can survive and even thrive with a few hundred loyal customers. Consider the author who puts out a new book every 2-3 months. If the titles are all priced at full retail, and that author has say a couple thousand devoted readers, they are set for life. They can count on thousands of dollars in sales every few weeks in addition to any new readers they manage to attract.
Superfans also have two other important characteristics. One, they have a habit of becoming evangelists and bringing new customers into the shop. Second, they are gold mines of attention, often serving as experienced sources of advice and opinion on the business.
In a world filled with notifications, social media noise and all manner of other anti-attention influences, getting and keeping focus from customers and potential customers is even more important and more valuable. Attention and focus are the anti-distractions. They are the things that help businesses, products and services make an actual connection with customers in the marketplace.
While most people don’t recognize it, these are the connections they crave the most. They are ultimately the only criteria for determining if a product is special or not. Special products are ones that deserve attention and the ones that turn mere customers into superfans.
Visibility, attention and connection are all points on a spectrum. A scarce few browsers ever see what you’re selling. Even fewer pay attention and a tiny fraction of those connect with the product and become superfans. Your job as a business leader is to cultivate those connected customers like flakes of gold in a California stream.