Trust: The Only Way To Keep People's Attention

In today’s 24/7 information overload, it’s hard to grab an audience’s attention. Some publications and companies resort to shock value, controversy or sex appeal to draw focus onto their copy or service. But the truth is, that is no way to guarantee that you will be able to retain your reader’s attention for more than a few waning seconds.

The fact is, if you grab people’s attention but then fail to provide value for them, you risk turning that attention into disdain because you’ve wasted their time. Here are some helpful hints to avoid this from happening:

Maintaining Your Reader’s Trust

  • Avoid misleading headlines or subject lines.
  • Don’t imply benefits unless you can’t deliver.
  • Follow through on your promises.

One of the concepts that’s pivotal to the concept of trust is “Permission Marketing,” a term coined by Seth Godin. Godin – an author, entrepreneur and marketer extraordinaire – has had a lot of success with engaging customers through Permission Marketing. The premise here is instead of annoying potential customers by interrupting their most coveted commodity -- time -- Permission Marketing offers consumers incentives to accept advertising (or writing) voluntarily. The two basic principles of this form of marketing are as follows:

Permission Marketing

  • Having people’s attention is a privilege! You are not entitled to it!
  • Your reader’s attention is a precious commodity.

Once you have managed to obtain this precious commodity, it’s vital that you don’t lose it by engaging in shrewd tactics such as upselling or misleading the reader in any way. Most writers and marketers don’t adhere to the principals of Permission Marketing, so by doing so, you will stand out as having integrity in an otherwise disingenuous marketplace. Keep in mind:

Being a Trustworthy Writer

  • Does not mean you should be soft or un-opinionated.
  • Be consistent and true to your target audience.

The takeaway here is that being a trustworthy writer doesn’t mean you can’t be bold or even controversial. In fact, depending on your target audience, they might demand it. The most important thing to remember is to respect your reader’s attention and time. If you stay true to yourself and your readers simultaneously, you will forge a connection with your readership that will only grow with time.

Rochelle is a Senior Editor & Content Producer at Intuit.