Break Through in 7 Seconds

Can You Win Customers’ Attention in 7 Seconds?

In the first 7 seconds, your customer makes the first critical decision. Whether to keep listening, enter into a conversation with you, or end it right now.

For marketers, 7 seconds mark the first moment of truth. It’s the size of our smallest attention span. You only have 7 seconds to get attention and answer customers’ key question, “What’s in it for me?”

Not by accident, 7 seconds is the length of the average sound bite in news media. On TV or radio, 7 seconds is how long your spokesperson usually gets to make a point. Are your media spokespersons ready to capture customers’ attention in 7 seconds? Do your Web pages get to the point in 7 seconds? Does the headlines on your blog, on emails or in your newsletter get to the point in 7 seconds?

In online and print media, 7 seconds translates into 23 words or less—a headline and a subhead, or a headline and two bullets. Most of us receive hundreds of emails a day.

An email gets the briefest attention as your customer decides whether to open it, trash it or banish you to junk mail jail. That’s why your email subject line needs to be short and sweet. It needs to be about the benefits to your customer, not the features of your company or product.

Perhaps you can intrigue your customers in 7 seconds. Or provoke them. Consider this: A 7-second question, asked in the words your customer really uses, may gain attention better than your 7-second answer.

Here are 4 ways to build a message for 7-second attention spans.

Seven seconds make a good tweet. While Twitter permits you up to 140 characters, shorter tweets get retweeted much more.

Vine built a video network around 6-second videos. To me, that’s a tiny bit too short. Since then, Vine’s rivals have countered with longer videos.

Your audience starts out the same way every day—skeptical, overcommunicated, and distracted by the many barking dogs of media. I contend: if you can’t tell your story in 7 seconds, you can’t tell your story to most people.

Once you’ve won 7 seconds of attention with the right story, you may win another 2 minutes, 5 minutes or even 20 minutes. But remember—the first 7 seconds will make or break your story.

Here are 4 ways to build a message for 7-second attention spans.

Here’s my 2-minute video on content marketing for the Business Marketing Association of Chicago:

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