Seven Seconds to Win Your Customer’s Attention

by Jenna Sindle

This post originally appeared on Digital Marketing Remix and was written by George Stenitzer, Founder, Crystal Clear Communications.

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 window. 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 will probably get to make a point. Are your media spokespersons ready for that?

Do your web pages get to the point in 7 seconds? A headline on your blog, on your website, in your newsletter or magazine gets 7 seconds to do the job. In online and print media, 7 seconds translate into 23 words or less – a headline and a subhead, or a headline and 2 bullets.

Many 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.

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. Perhaps that’s why Vine’s rivals 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.