8 Ideas to Fight the Multi-tasking Ethic
Anyone who has a kid (or a husband, for that matter) will understand. Ever ask a simple question (“Do you want tea or coffee?”) and get “uh-huh” or “Yes, Mom” for an answer?
Someone didn’t hear, wasn’t listening or was probably multi-tasking. Maybe all three.
Our brains only have so much capacity. OK, what we do have is pretty amazing, but ask a tricky question (Tea? Coffee?) of someone whose mind is focused elsewhere (football? The NYSE? Grand Theft Auto?) and you can expect a lot less than their full time and attention.
Consider this: a report from the University of California at San Diego says that in 2008 Americans spent 1.3 trillion leisure hours consuming information. That’s leisure hours! Or 12 hours per day every day for each one of us.
Since we typically use 9 hours at work (or enroute) + 8 hours in sleep and the length of the day is still 24 hours, we are cramming 12 hours of information processing into the 7 remaining hours, assuming we do nothing else. No eating. No exercising. No shopping. No showering. No walking the dog. Nothing else. Just processing information.
We do it by multi-tasking.
Watch TV and check your email—that’s multi-tasking. Do it for an hour, and you earn 2 hours in the UCSD study. Play video games and listen to music all Saturday afternoon, while texting your friends regularly and you’ll really rack up the hours.
UCSD says we each spend 5 hours in front of the TV per day… 2 hours with the radio… 2 hours on the computer…1 hour gaming… 36 minutes reading print media and 27 minutes listening to recorded music.
No wonder a deeply philosophical question like Tea or Coffee gets lost in all the noise.
As marketers we have to cut through the noise to make our message heard. But as the media options expand (remember, in 2008 there was no Wii, no I-pad, no Droids or i-phones, and FaceBook and Twitter were just getting a head of steam) our challenges will increase.
Here are a few ideas that have proven to be successful in combating multi-tasking madness:
- Repetition. If they don’t hear you the first time, say it again. How many times a day do you hear ads for McDonalds? It’s about breaking into someone’s presence of mind, cutting through the clutter.
- Personalization. Catch their attention—at least momentarily—by using pertinent information your data has about them. For instance, the recipient’s name. Last purchase/donation by date or dollar amount. Hobby or interest.
- Color. It’s a long-held marketing truism that color sells. 4 color sells better than 2, and 2 sells better than one. The eye is drawn to color.
- Timeliness/appropriateness. Make your message pertinent to the intended recipient. It is no coincidence that Super Bowl ads often have football themes.
- Choose your Audience carefully. Studies show that 40% of the success of your marketing effort is based on the list(s) you use. If the audience is wrong, your message—even a brilliantly creative one—will fail.
- KISS it. Keep it short and simple. Attention spans are shortening. Recipients only have so much time they will expend on your message.
- Make it amusing. They may not have much time, but they do like to laugh.
- Mix media. If your message isn’t getting through using one media, change your media. Find one that your target audience responds to and then “work it.”
I could go on, but CSI is starting soon, I’ve got to check my email and the phone is ringing.
I know you understand.