A guide for marketers in message and product development

As humans, we suck at listening.

And that’s bad for marketing and copywriting.

One study found that 50% of adults couldn’t describe the content of a 10-minute oral presentation just moments after hearing it. Results from 48 hours after hearing the talk were even worse: 75% of the listeners couldn’t even recall the subject matter.

But it’s not our fault.

We can safely blame science. The science of listening actually prevents you from being a better listener. Turns out our brains have the capacity to digest up to 400 words per minute of information. Even a rapid-fire speaker from New York City can only say around 125 words per minute.

If we do the math, that means your brain is idle for roughly 75% of the time someone is speaking to you.

Brains don’t like to be idle.

Brains like motion, activity, movement – DOING.

Our oddly wired brains aren’t the only problem; we can also blame social media for our half-assed listening behaviors. Consider the rules of social media marketing, which focus on making and rewarding noise:

  • You should share several times a day (source)
  • You should engage frequently by publishing content people want and participating in forums (source)
  • The more shares you’ve got, the more shares you’ll get
  • The more followers you’ve got, the more followers you’ll get

Success metrics for YouTube are all about counting views, subscribers, likes and comments. Google / YouTube naturally rewards views with cold hard cash. When you make enough noise frequently enough that people hear said noise, you get rewarded. Even trolls get rewarded (with tons of attention) for adding to the noise.

As marketers, we’re so used to pushing noise that it’s hard to stop and listen.

Listening is an act you won’t be rewarded for. Not like you will for making noise.

Think about it: does anyone receive rewards from others, like upvotes or ad revenue, for listening?

I’m not talking about rewards for being quiet – not at all. I’m…

Read the rest.

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