Why Subtlety Doesn’t Work Anymore

A couple of years ago, author/public speaker/comedian Andy Nulman wrote a blog post discussing his challenges as he gets up in front of an audience:

“The Internet has changed everything. It has contracted attention spans to an almost ridiculously-microscopic measure, and has sung the swan song for the concept of subtlety. For example, the old ‘speaker’s adage’ used to be:

  • Tell ’em what you’re gonna tell ’em
  • Tell ’em
  • Tell ’em what you told ’em

These days, the audience fidgets through the preamble, tweets during the middle and are out the door before the recap.”

Nulman wrote this in 2010. A recent article on emarketer.com details how, two years later, the rise of the smart phone has affected what your customers do while you’re commercial plays:

A May 2012 report authored by the IAB and Ipsos MediaCT, which drew on data from three surveys of US consumers, found that internet-enabled devices were not displacing other media-related activities, but adding to them. According to the Ipsos MediaCT LMX survey, the average amount of time that respondents spent engaging with media each day climbed to 9.6 hours in 2011, from 9 hours in 2009.

Time spent online or on a computer jumped to 3.1 hours from 2.5 hours over the same period. But the amount of time respondents spent watching TV held steady, at 3.4 hours. eMarketer estimates that US adults spent an average of about 11.5 hours per day consuming media content in 2011…

Here’s what this means to you: no matter what medium you are using to deliver your sales message to potential customers —  this applies to radio and newspaper in addition to TV — your customers now have a smartphone, and a choice. They can pay attention to your message, or:

  • They can check their e-mail, or send a text,
  • They can update their status on Facebook, or send a tweet.
  • They can watch a cat video on YouTube.

In fact, it is likely that they are doing one of these things as they are watching, listening to, or reading your ad. This means you have got to get to the point in a hurry. You need to deliver a benefit statement and capture attention immediately. Nulman put it this way: “No salad, just the main course”.

If, instead, you decide to “ease into it” you may find that the only thing your prospects remember later is Baby Monkey Riding on a Pig.


Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you the first two chapters of my new book, Breakthrough Prospecting, as a thank-you.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Your Chance to Be Heard -- Comment Here!