How to get attention, or: as you read this, you feel an irresistible urge to go on reading!

 
We all want attention. As children we crave the attention of our parents. Later in life, we want to be seen and noticed by friends and family. And when running most any type of business, we must attract the attention of our potential customers.

But how do you get somebody`s undivided attention? When you were an infant, you got attention by screaming and crying. Then your parents knew you needed your diapers changed. As an adult, you can try using the same method to get noticed. Sure, you will get noticed – but in a negative way!

On the Internet, every website that is selling something has the need to be attention-grabbing within seconds; to make the visitors read about their offer rather than just clicking away. Some are then tempted to use the infant method of getting attention: screaming and yelling.

Popup-windows that pop up in your face and obscure the page text you`re just trying to read, is one example. Flash-generated intro`s that stop you in your tracks and say “Heeey, wait – before you read about our products I`ve got this f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c visual effect to show you…!” is another example of attention-grabbing contraptions that actually defeat their own purpose. They visually yell and scream at you, and draw your attention to the fact that you`d better spend your precious time somewhere else.

Then there is the type of web page that plays some sound effect the moment you arrive. Either it is a piece of music (always just the kind you hate!) or a recorded sales pitch.

Oh yes, then there is the Blinking Text… which blinks at frantic pace, just right to trigger an epileptic seizure.

One of my websites is called “The Hosting Finder”. Primarily, it offers some reviews of carefully selected web hosting companies. I am not selling anything on this website, and so I do not feel it would be appropriate to use a hard-selling jargon in my introductory headline. Right now, it reads:

“Finding a Web Hosting Provider That Will Take Good Care of Your Precious Web
Pages … Can Be Confusing”

(I then explain how I researched the web to find good hosting services based on un-biased customer ratings rather than hype.)

Recently, a marketing consultant offered to look at this website and give me some feedback at no cost. I accepted, and after checking my landing page he declared the headline to be “generic and bland”. Instead, he suggested the following:

“Want An Objective `Client Feedback` Guide To Help You Find A 100% Trustworthy, Inexpensive, And Complete Web Hosting Service Provider (Based On Survey Results, Not Marketing Propaganda) — With All The Options You Need To Run Your Web Site Smoothly And Successfully?

Avoid The Hosting Nightmare Of Trying To Keep Your Site Live And Running Smoothly… Stop Wasting Time And Money In Costly Bad Service”

In my reply, I thanked him for his trouble. I also pointed out that this flood of words might not be the optimal way of building confidence in my integrity as the provider of impartial reviews on web hosting.

Maybe I am wrong, who knows. Perhaps I should start yelling and screaming just like everybody else? But I just don`t like the idea of doing that. I`d rather hypnotize people into reading my texts. Some marketing gurus advocate this approach. Here are a few examples of how you`re supposed to hypnotize people:

1. As you keep reading this ad copy, you are feeling more and more compelled to experience all the benefits of our product.

2. The more you understand just how valuable our product could be to your life, the less you think about delaying this important purchase.

3. After you read this short ad you will feel like your problems are almost completely solved, all you will have to do is order.

Well, don`t you feel compelled to reach for your wallet right now?! These examples are not intended as a joke; they are seriously trying to persuade people. And maybe they are, although I personally find them more amusing than hypnotizing. – I`ll make a pause here; I just feel I have to go out and buy something! :-)

OK, I am back. Time to finish this little essay on how to get attention. Oh, you have read this far? So I have managed to keep your attention then! I did it by … no, I won`t give my secret away. You`ll have to read my Special Report, which I`m selling for ONLY $97. But hurry, this exclusive limited special offer is expiring, and will always expire, at midnight; whatever day you happen to read this! :-)

Kai Virihaur is a researcher, web developer, and artist. He runs The Hosting Finder ( href=”http://www.thehostingfinder.com”>http://www.thehostingfinder.com ), a web hosting directory
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About Jared Fiel
Daniel is a humor columnist (as well as a former reporter, former gas station attendant, former fast food worker and current public relations flack).
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