We live in an attention-economy or eyeball world, don’t we? According to Jim Stolze our information-inundated economy even suffers from ADHD, eg Attention Deficit Hyperdistribution.

Doc Searls however claims this already represents old-school thinking. In his book ‘The Intention Economy’ Searls predicts the power to return to where it belongs: to the customer. “Why build an economy around attention, when intention is where the money comes from?” 

Small is beautiful
Searls presents ‘small data’ as the alternative to an endless ocean of ‘big data’. Small data represent the smallest set of data offering unique insights into the individual’s needs. Searls predicts small data to have an even bigger future than Big Data: “[…] the end result is that the “small data” that’s yours will be more important than the “big data” behind marketing’s guesswork. The latter will sound tempting to many a marketing executive or sales director. Finally there’s substantial Return On Marketing Investment!

Attintion please
Personally I’d rather speak of the shift to the ‘Attintion-‘ or ‘Intantion’ economy. After all, an absolute ‘from / to’ shift is just as unlikely as the complete disappearing of farming during the industrial age, or the full demise of industry during this ‘Information Age’.

How well do customers understand their own needs and wants? 
The brief answer: customers quite often do not know what they want. Henry Ford already put it this way: “if we would have listened to our customers we would now have had a faster horse and carriage”. Furthermore the intention as verbally expressed by our ‘chatter box’ (as Victor Lamme describes in his book ‘de vrije wil bestaat niet’ [free will does not exist) follows after the decision our brains in most cases will have taken several seconds before.

One could therefore state ‘the’ intention does not exist. Or that the buying decision itself looks quite different from the intention that was verbally shared with whomever wanted to listen to us.

Tapping the brains for our true (buying) intentions 
The brains represent the true source of customers’ and prospects’ intentions. It may come as no surprise that neuromarketing as a discipline will enjoy a promising future. The application of brain scans for instance renders perfectly transparant how a product or brand will go ‘down’ a customer. Neuromarketing offers new insights to both provider and customer, based on what one might call ‘big small data’. A myriad of new data and insights gathered from the most intimate sample of all: the one from the individual brain.

1 reply
  1. Roger Dooley
    Roger Dooley says:

    Good points, Paul. I think we flip between the extremes at times. We went from mass marketing to one-to-one. Then, with the Web, we returned to broadcasting. New targeting tools are taking us back to the individual level. Behavioral targeting is interesting, though so far the targeted behaviors are fairly simple, e.g., “looked at this product for a while, let’s keep showing ads for it later.” The future looks more interesting.



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