The Secret to getting your readers’ attention is in your head
Ever been at a noisy party?
You know, the kind where you could barely hear the person talking in front of you?
The chatter from everyone around you became such inconvenient background noise you had to really focus on the person talking in front of you.
You’re struggled to make out a coherent syllable.
Then suddenly, from the other side of the room, someone called out your name.
Immediately your ears pricked up and you looked around.
That’s your Reticular Activating System in action.
[cue the sound of a crickets chirping in the distance]
“My what?”, you cry.
Your Reticular Activating System.
Your Reticular Activating System (or RAS for those in the know) is a critical part of your brain that’s more important to your marketing efforts than you (probably) realise.
Essentially your RAS acts as a filter for all the noise you’re bombarded with every minute of the day.
Your sensory devices – eyes, ears and so on – are constantly scanning the environment for messages.
If your RAS deems some incoming message is “noise” it will act as a gatekeeper and filter it out.
That is, your RAS ignores the noise on your behalf.
Meanwhile if your RAS thinks the incoming message is relevant or important enough, it’ll let the message through.
Only then does it cross your consciousness and you become aware of it.
Here’s a marketing example . . .
And another for good measure:
Not a plumber?
Neither am I.
If you’re not a plumber, both of these ads would have been “invisible” to you.
Had they appeared in your Facebook feed or a magazine you were skimming through, you probably wouldn’t have even noticed them.
That’s your RAS in action.
Buuuut . . . if you are a plumber, chances are that Attention Plumbers headline may have been enough to get your focus, if only for a few moments.
So your RAS influences what you pay attention to by filtering out noise and letting important stuff through.
But it doesn’t stop there.
It also influences what you don’t pay attention to.
Here’s a video which demonstrates when you’re paying attention to one thing, you’re not paying attention to something else.
Go ahead and watch the video.
It’s only goes for 1:41 and you’ll learn a lot.
I’ll be here when you get back 🙂
I previously read about this experiment so I knew what to expect.
Even so, because I was focusing on the guerrilla, I still missed one player leaving the game and the curtains changing colour.
What’s your marketing ‘Guerrilla in the Midst’?
The things that you focus on (or think about) the most are the ones that automatically rise in your mental list of priorities. Usually to the exclusion of others.
So what’s all this got to do with your marketing efforts?
This. . . .
. . . the words you use are either going to grab your readers’ attention or be invisible to them.
You get their attention or you get no attention.
In the wise words of Master Yoda, “There is no try”.
So how can sneak past your readers’ Reticular Activating System to grab their attention?
I’m glad you asked
There’s several techniques.
Let’s look at two of them . . .
Enter the conversation going on in your readers’ mind
People are talking to themselves all the time.
All the time.
The first technique is this. When you're writing a headline or email subject line include the same words and phrases your reader is using when they talk to themselves.
The exact same words and phrases.
This is specifically relevant to your headlines and email subject lines and relates to the advice Robert Collier gave when he said you should be “entering the conversation already taking place in your prospect’s mind”.
If they’re thinking about pasta and you’re talking about noodles, their RAS would have zapped your message.
If they’re thinking about fettuccine and you’re talking about linguine, you’ll have missed the mark again.
So how do you find the exact words people are using so you can sneak past their RAS?
Here’s two approaches you can try...
You can use tools like Google Trends or Keyword planner to find what your readers are searching for. The actual words they use.
These are the words and phrases you want to blend in to your headlines and email subject lines.
It’s amazing how emotional people can become about products they love.
And products they hate.
Amazon’s review are the proverbial gold mine for finding out what people think and feel about specific products.
Renowned marketing strategist Jay Abraham (who usually charges over $100,000 per day as a consultant) called Amazon reviews the shortcut to “gaining insight into the mind of your audience”.
Check out the video. You'll be shocked how the "professionals" read their customers minds:
Often you can simply start with just book titles. Many book titles (or subtitles) alone will convey the “big payoff”. That is, what people are really interested in.
Bet you didn’t see that coming . . .
The second technique is a pattern interrupt.
Pattern interrupt are Usually associated with with Neuro Linguistic Programming (or NLP). They’re designed to change your “state” by interrupting and changing your thought patterns and behaviours.
It does this using something so unexpected it demands attention.
Something you never saw coming.
If you’ve ever seen a picture or video in your Facebook feed that was so bizarre you couldn’t help but look, that was a pattern interrupt in action.
For example, it may use words or imagery that is self-contradictory (an oxymoron).
Both approaches are designed (and intended) to get past your readers' attention gatekeeper.
What techniques have you used to get your readers' attention? Post them below, we'd love to know . . .