Attention and Reputation

Josh Brown says there are only two scarce commodities left on Wall Street. Most traditional brand and marketing strategies are struggling because they’ve become too common, too watered down, and too easily ignorable. If TV ads for hot new funds and white clad seniors showing off their successful retirements are finally a thing of the past, what’s left? Attention and reputation.

Here’s an experiment. Get a group of people to watch something on TV together and observe what happens when a commercial comes on. What do they do? They pick up their phones. What happens when people have as much as two free seconds? They pick up their phones. Attention is scarcer than ever. How we reach people and the mediums by which we engage with them matter. If we don’t have someone’s attention, something else does, and the transition is fast. We have to be where attention is naturally pooling. 


Let’s say we actually can get someone’s attention – then what? Do we do what we say we do? Do we do it so well that people will tell others about what we did? That’s our reputation. Confidence and conviction come from showing up and getting the job done. Reputation is to easy to lose and hard to build. It’s built on top of what we do with every interaction.


Josh’s message for everyone, no matter their field, is simple: be available and accessible on the platforms and devices that people spend most of their time on. Once we have their attention, get after it! Ship, deliver, execute, drive results – whatever it takes so people understand what’s important to them is at least as important as it is to us.


If we think one level deeper, attention doesn’t mean we have to be posting on every social media platform 24/7, so much as it means making sure our clients feel like we have their attention. Modern attention and reputation have a lot to do with accessibility. We don’t just want something to get our attention, we expect someone or something to have our attention.


On-demand access in a smartphone-enabled world is probably one of the greatest catalysts towards reputation building we have at our disposal. Time is the ultimate scarce asset, so how we use it to broadcast shared values can be very powerful. A tweet can be the modern highway billboard, but a text can be highly personal. 


The world won’t stop changing. We have to think carefully about how we’ll get and keep people’s attention, and then once we have it, how we’ll be smart about building our reputation with them. New mediums mean new scarcity, and new scarcity means new types of success for those who understand how to derive value from it.