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    June 4, 2008

    Getting through the information overload

    An interesting article from AP this week, "Study shows young adults hit by 'news fatigue'". The study, conducted the AP, focuses on news organization and how they should adapt their news-delivery model to reach young adults, but the key findings do have relevancy for fundraisers:

    "A key finding was that participants yearned for quality and in-depth reporting but had difficulty immediately accessing such content because they were bombarded by facts and updates in headlines and snippets of news.

    The study also found that participants were unable to give full attention to the news because they were almost always simultaneously engaged in other activities, such as reading e-mail. That represents a shift from previous consumption models in which people sat down to watch the evening news or read the morning paper."

    The way young people consume information and the channels they use to consume it is greatly illustrated in the MediaSnackers video. Information: whenever, however, wherever.

    Between messaging, emailing, blogging, twittering (more on the Twitter phenomenon to come), updating profiles, checking friends' status, it is no surprise that traditional marketing channels, even email are failing to capture a young adult's (and I suspect many more "mature" adults) attention. If your organization sends me an email, and its 6 paragraphs long, and only in paragraph 4 do you start to get to the point, you lost me at "add to spam." Being an avid recycler, unless your direct mail piece tells me it will self-destruct in "5, 4, 3, 2..." if I don't open it right away, you bet you are going straight to the recycle bin.

    But what if I am on my Facebook page, which lists 'reading' as one of my interests and out of the corner of my eye I notice an ad for an organization that helps give books to children in Afghanistan? What if a friend, who knows how fascinated I am by recycling, sends me a text with a link to your organization's cool new widget where I can get "green points" and compete with my friends for "greenest one" around?

    The ultimate question in all marketing efforts, is, of course, "measurement" and "long term donor value." How precisely do you measure my value as a donor if I've racked up 10 million green points? Or mailed you a book to give to a kid in Afghanistan? What donor dollar segment do you stick me in? How do you measure 'reach' and 'penetration' with an attention-deprived generation?

    But the fact is that the challenges (and opportunities) of marketing to my generation are not going to change as we age: for those of you waiting for us to "mature" as if at 40, 50, 60, we are somehow miraculously going to grown an attention span, let me ask this question: if I am short on attention span now, as I grow my family, career, get kids and their activities, flying my hydrogen-powered vehicle to France and back for organic local-made cheese-and-wine tastings, I suspect I am not going to have a sudden increase in time. Or attention span. Or patience to wait for you to get to the point.

    So what is the point of this very long-winded post; us marketers (including yours truly), need to learn to get to the point. And very quickly. Cause your donor's attention span is going to self-destruct in 5, 4, 3, 2....

    1 comment:

    Jaclyn said...

    You're so on the money, excuse the pun... but seriously, marketing models need to adapt to short attention spans and the evolving way that people are getting news. I look forward to hearing your ideas about these sorts of models in the future...