How to Get Your Audience to Turn Their Heads in Your Direction

Why Your Audience Is Ignoring YouAudience attention

Every company I’ve rubbed elbows with wants to tell its audience about its products – the bells, the whistles, the thingamajig that make its products so special.

Reality?  No one cares.

Convincing a company that no one cares about their products is a lot like telling a Mother her baby is ugly.

It’s cruel, but it’s the truth she needs to know.

You need to know – deep in your bones – that your audience is deaf and blind to your pleas for their attention.  They can’t hear your communications because there’s too much noise and too many making the identical claims.

They don’t see your posts or tweets because your communications don’t stand out.  It’s just more of the same.

They don’t visit your website because it doesn’t offer anything compelling.  It’s one of trillions.


It could be sadness, trust, happiness, joy, melancholy, inspiration, reflection, anger.

How do you do this?

How do you stimulate emotion, feelings on the part of your readers?

An Example of How to Create Feeling with your Audience

Recently I saw a powerful TV commercial for, of all things, Subaru.

I am not in the market for a car. If I was, Subaru wouldn’t be on my short list.  Nor do I represent this car company’s ideal customers’ demographics or lifestyle.

But this company got my attention with a powerful, simplistic 30 second TV commercial – “They Lived”.

Perhaps you’ve seen it.  It starts with a tow truck picking up a crushed car along the highway. People along the way view the mangled vehicle and repeat one remark:  They lived.

The message:  Subaru is one safe automobile and one I should consider.

How did Subaru Capture My Attention?

Let’s walk through the process.

1. Defined what it wanted to accomplish

Before Subaru created this commercial, it defined its objective.  It wanted to increase awareness of Subaru.

Objective:  Build awareness

2. Selected the Audience

Audience:  Those who don’t know Subaru

3. Identified a Message that would be of interest to the audience

Message: Safety

4. Identified an emotional hook for the message and deliver it differently than everyone else

A product focus would have pointed to the air bags, the dummy crash tests – just like all of their competitors.

Instead this ad focused on the one question everyone thinks when they see a crushed car and the feeling of amazement that anyone was able to walk away from this serious a car accident.

Emotional hook: Answer the first thought people have when they see a crushed car.  Did they live?

5. Focused on one clear communications

Only 12 words, excluding the company’s tag line, were used in the entire spot.   One phrase was repeated 4 times to drive home the desired message.

Emotional Message:  Did they live?  Yes, with Subaru.

6. Reinforced the emotional message with a powerful image

Most car companies don’t show their cars crushed beyond recognition.  Subaru did and it made viewers wonder how the riders could’ve have come out alive.

Audience attention subaru-wreck


How Can Your Communications Capture the Attention of Your Audience?

Easy.  Just follow the same steps.

1.  Define your objective.  What specifically do you want to accomplish?  Do you want to build awareness, generate sales, foster more loyalty?

2.  Select your audience and your relationship with that audience?

  • They don’t know me from a hill of beans
  • Know me, but don’t take any action
  • They checked me out once, but never came back
  • These guys really love me a lot

3.  Determine the one message that matters to this audience.  Be very, very specific.  No vague generalities.

4.  Think about how your selected audience FEELS when they think about your message, your company, your product. When people think about safety, they feel a sense of relief knowing they have a ‘safe’ car.  Figure out how you can use emotion to deliver your message in a unique way.

5.  Keep your focus on the message and nothing else.

6.  Use strong visuals to reinforce the emotional message and to break through the communications clutter.

Here is the Subaru Commercial.  Does it get your attention?


Don’t be Shy

Tell me what you think of these 6 steps.  Are they too difficult?  Too simplistic?

Will your audience pay more attention to your communications if you used these 6 steps?

Which emotions can you tap to get your audience’s attention?

You should share your thoughts and feelings below and let me know what you think about this approach to capturing your audience’s attention.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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