Building Attention within a Market of Extreme Distraction #publishing #business #trust #relationships #Godin
Fortifying trust and scaling emotion.
Tactile economic shifts have given rise to new approaches for how we might protect the arts and culture in a web environment that is beyond fractured, a commerce system that doesn't seem to be getting its priorities straight, and a political system that doesn't seem to understand either very well. The publishing industry presents this complex problem in spades.
What this suggests is that we face a considerable challenge building attention in meaningful ways -- in how we procure information, how we distribute it, how we share it, and of course, in how we monetize it. As I've been positing lately in a series of posts, I think it has a lot to do with how we develop relationships in a transitional economy.
So for purposes of exploration, let's look specifically at how attention is a function of fortifying trust and scaling emotion in a volatile business world; we'll use publishing as the contextual lens.
Godin illuminates a critical path for discovery.
Seth Godin gave an interview recently for The Good Life project that really resonated with me in terms of how to deal with this complexity. Here's the video for reference.
Seth points to some very critical elements in this discourse:
- We must distinguish the difference between wants and needs when we consider connecting with an audience; this is fundamental to how people relate to the material we are offering them, and creates a distinction between the "must-haves" and the "nice-to-haves".
- When needs predominate, something really interesting happens: emotion is the real currency driving the purchase of that material. This is not to say that people aren't emotional about the things they desire, but rather they are far more emotional about things they need, or things they hadn't realized they might need (such as what Seth provides - unique business and market insight). In this way, emotion has scale. People may stop buying copies of a book, and they may even stop investing in an associative idea, but if they are emotionally connected to you by virtue of your ideas, then they are in essence "along for the ride" (or, the longer haul).
- We actually build trust when we scale emotion, not the business or the idea. This means that we feel something profound in making a connection through an idea. Seth talks about startups as an example: If investors put money into an idea, the expectation is that it must scale; the problem is that founders may lose faith in that idea over time, or, customers do, and therefore the connection between stakeholders and customers gets lost. Trust suffers. I've seen the same effect happen in industries like advertising -- a great idea goes to market, it flames out for any number of reasons, and the customer relationship hangs in the balance via the "brand". What happens is next is the bane of all corporate and commerce schemes: the "brand" comes back to that customer base with another offering under the supposition that all is well in the "relationship", when in fact, it is not.
- The best example Seth gives is when he talks about the Kickstarter campaign for his new book; despite popular belief, he did not actually crowdfund the book, he humorously coined it "crowd-attentioning". In short, he used the Kickstarter platform as a means for testing out the market, to gauge people's levels of trust, knowing that they -- as part of his community of readers -- had an investment in his writing effort without having been exposed to that particular idea or book product.
An investment in soft value, more so than hard value.
So, building attention boils down to an investment in scaling emotion, and therefore, trust.
The event of purchasing, or the act of reading (for example) will reach its peaks and valleys, but the inflection points of experiencing trust beyond a transaction are what drive a sustainable business relationship between producer and customer. Here's what that might look like:
Here's what is interesting about this.
The inflection points that are shown in the graphic demonstrate an evolution between the way we transact, and the reasons why we transact.
Seth's publisher might have the broad assumption that he is so wildly popular his readers will automatically buy his book. But as Seth explains in the interview, that is not really the case. Fact is, he must consistently vet the emotional and intellectual variances of his readership, even as he writes a book over, say, the course of a year.
This is critical; look at how many authors have come and gone, their great ideas awash in a minefield of other literary suitors, as readers pine for the next great thing.
To my mind, this is what the relationship economy is all about: building trust networks around great people and great ideas, even when purchases aren't being made, or when economic conditions aren't so favorable.
What are your thoughts on building attention? What do you do to maintain relationships even when you aren't offering a product or a service?