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Is your marketing still getting attention instead of paying attention?

I have been seeing a commercial on TV lately that features Yankee pitcher CC Sabathia pitching (groan) Bayer aspirin. Sports fans are likely to pay more attention to CC than to some identity-less announcer, so that makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is part of what CC says, that he needs to be free of pain so that he can concentrate, because pitching is “100% mental.” Really, CC? 100%? If that was true, then Stephen Hawking should be the best pitcher in baseball. I’m not trying to poke fun at CC–he seems like a nice guy and athletes are not expected to be fabulous public speakers any more than I should be expected to throw a curve ball. No, I wonder what the marketers at Bayer are doing.

Think about how this commercial probably unfolded. It’s unlikely that the folks at Bayer wrote out a script and asked CC to read it. Instead, I suspect that they interviewed CC for a while and then pieced together what he said off the cuff to put the interview together. And this is one of the quotes they actually liked the best.

Given the absurdity of the quote on the face of it, why would they pick this? I mean, CC said a lot of things, I am sure, and he likes the product. Again, I want to emphasize that I am not belittling CC in any way–I have had a few bad moments on live radio and have had a few misstatements captured on YouTube (and I am paid to talk for a living). But why would Bayer choose this quote?

I believe that it is old-fashioned “get attention” marketing. In mainstream media, your ad needs to stand out. Yes, it will be shown, but will anyone notice it? That’s why you need to get attention and Bayer chose the quotes from CC that they thought would get the most attention. Bayer can’t exaggerate what it says about its products but it loves when someone else does because it just sounds better.

The problem is that digital marketing doesn’t reward “get attention’ marketing–digital requires “pay attention” marketing where you are engaging with customers and noticing what they care about and catering to it. But it doesn’t stop with digital.

People now watch mainstream ads and comment in digital media. I found a few people poking fun at poor CC for his quote. People are paying closer attention than ever to what companies say and they don’t trust companies. They expect companies to bend the truth, which is why it is harder and harder to get attention.

So, how about you? Are you still fighting to get attention for your message? If, instead, you pay attention to what customers are interested in, and you engage with them on those messages, you’ll get their attention anyway, but you might persuade them more than with fatuous claims made by a celebrity.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in internet marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing consultancy based in New York City. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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