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Tips on Selling

Get the message out loud and clear
Get the message out loud and clear

Grab your customers’ attention!

In an age of instant communication, impersonal communications fail to impress consumers – instead, business owners must grab and hold shoppers’ attention, writes BARRY URQUHART.

It is so difficult to get a message across nowadays. Nobody seems to be listening, reading or valuing relationships – consumers are failing to recognise brands, exhibit loyalty or refer services.

Everyone seems distracted and uncommitted, more inclined to hit delete than reply because it’s easier to pretend that the communication was never received.

The ubiquity of social and digital media means messages are no longer resonating with their intended audiences.

A universal lowering of costs in digital channels has been instrumental in increasing the affordability and volume of mass communications – but it’s all for little to no avail.

Even personalised greetings are marginally effective at best.

Doing so much, so often is becoming a common practice that is only contributing to the problem. Attention has become a goal; however, it is commonly out of reach for many.

Content is another tactic – yet, in many instances, it is poorly structured and delivered.

Marketing practitioners are recalibrating the long-held maxim that 50 per cent of their advertising works and 50 per cent doesn’t, they just don’t know which 50 per cent works.

Today, there is an 85–90 per cent rate of ineffective, non-responsive advertising, marketing and promotion. It is a daunting set of statistics and implications.

Deliver the promise

Targeted consumers and existing clients are increasingly informed, discerning, price-sensitive and highly expectant of both great quality and value.

They seek out, utilise and regularly return to sources which they find credible, verifiable, transparent and, above all, authentic.

High expectations are believed to be the cause of considerable harm. Webinars are trying to address them; however, the delivery skills of an overwhelming majority of speakers are poor – sometimes appalling – and this reflects badly on companies and their products.

Personal presentation skills are only partial measures for increasing relevance and impact. Sadly, reincarnations of the late Steve Jobs seem everywhere but lack his immaculate delivery.

Conference stages are regularly inhabited with storytellers dressed in black roll-neck skivvies and black trousers. Talk about commoditisation!

Step up, stand up

The filtering or blocking of much communication is a consequence of stereotypical perceptions and resultant generalisations. Don’t take it personally.

In many instances, intended recipients don’t filter or reject individual communications.

“An interesting allure is to offer real-time personal responses. This is something that around 80 per cent of business clients and 64 per cent of consumers welcome and value.”

Rather, they just apply a blanket cover to every email, blog or text that comes their way. It’s a coping mechanism rather than discrimination, and it seems necessary in a world swamped with advertising messages.

To achieve human connection and elicit positive engagement, more focus and effort is needed on attracting attention.

Short attention spans dictate the need to formulate and implement snappy headlines, limited to concise, enticing and compelling three-to-five-word phrases.

Overcoming filters

Consumer indifference pervades. Enthusing and motivating unmotivated and disconnected minds is a difficult challenge.

Endeavouring to change people may be futile. In the words of Leo Tolstoy: “Everyone thinks of changing the world but no-one thinks of changing himself.”

An interesting allure is to offer real-time personal responses. This is something that around 80 per cent of business clients and 64 per cent of consumers welcome and value.

Increasingly, recipients of countless communications recognise and are offended by impersonal, mass-distributed missives. In this form, personal salutations are conspicuous and often deemed to be offensively insincere.

Accordingly, they do not counter those widely-held negative generalisations about promotional emails, blogs and texts.

Remember that the loss of a customer is only one bad experience away. Many potential relationships are never established because the first exchange between business and consumer is a communication that lacks the vital ingredients to attract attention.

It is an art form

Disturbingly, many supposed digital and online-marketing experts are deficient in their ability to attract attention for clients; they are good at registering with algorithms, which lack dimensions of emotion.

By ensuring concise headlines, respecting the power of brevity and providing credible and authentic personal advantages, businesses can reap benefits when targeting their promotional messages.

Barry Urquhart

Contributor • Marketing Focus

Barry Urquhart is managing director of Marketing Focus. He has been a consultant to the retail industry around the world since 1980. Visit: or email

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