#TBT: Now That I’ve Got Your Attention …

Happy #TBT. To celebrate, we’re sharing an oldie-but-goodie post from Jim: Now That I’ve Got Your Attention … .

Earlier today, I updated my Facebook status. It said, “Jim is updating his Facebook status.”

And by definition, if you’re reading this, I have your attention, at least for the moment. If I want to keep having your attention, I’d better say something interesting and useful — and quick.

Which, by the way, is a pretty good explanation of the way today’s consumer marketplace works. You’ve heard the expression Attention Economy, but I thought I’d spend a moment talking about what that really means.

It means that the power and profit go to people who have the attention of others. To some degree, this has always been the case, but the Attention Economy today is much more of a meritocracy than in the past.

In the past, owning a key natural resource (like the land) or a business asset (like printing presses) made you inherently worth listening to.

Don’t get me wrong. Owning stuff is still a great advantage, but the equation is reversed: Being able to earn the attention of others leads to owning things.

The greatest asset that Goldstar has is the attention of about 1 million people [in 2009, currently over 6 million] who like to go out to live entertainment and also the people who run thousands of venues that would like to sell to those people. Sure, we’ve got software, desks, computers and some really cool posters of our favorite live entertainment acts on the wall, but fundamentally, our business is about the fact that a lot of the right kind of people care about what we say and do.

We believe that’s what the economy of the 21st century is about. We don’t believe that business models based on control and obligation will ultimately stand the test of time because the marketplace provides too many options for just about any product or service. If you don’t take care of people, they will eventually find another way to get their business done.

For venues, this is all the truer. Unless you’re working hard to be special, consumers can and will find substitutes for what you do. Your job then is to become special. Ask Red Sox fans if there’s a possible substitute for the Red Sox. Ask Cirque du Soleil fans if there’s a substitute for Cirque. Imitators, sure, but not a substitute.

And it’s not just big, well-known organizations. Your job is to be special so that for the people whose attention you’ve got, they can’t imagine going to anyone else.

Now that you’ve got their attention, what are you going to do about it?

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