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You’ve probably been to a dozen of marketing meetings that started with someone pulling out a whiteboard and saying, “Let’s think about our competition for a minute.” I bet there were some A-type personalities (maybe you?) who’ve done their homework and unloaded a whole laundry list of brands doing something similar or influencers talking about similar topics. I’m convinced cat videos should be considered a serious competition, but the A-types forgot to consider that.
We remember to analyze who we are up against in our niche and forget the rest of it: the whole wide web fighting for our prospect’s attention.
There are two types of people online
There are two types of people online: the ones with an urgent problem to solve and those scrolling away hoping to forget about their urgent problems.
1. “Here to solve the problem” type.
Urgent problems require immediate solutions: your kid has a cavity, your taxes are due tomorrow, and your car is broken. If you are online to solve a problem, you might do some research before you go into action. You might search for “how to tell if your child has a cavity” or “natural ways to relieve toothache.”
Generally, you are ready to pull out a credit card to pay for the service/product that would offer a solution. After doing some research, you’ll probably find an ad, contact the seller, and, if everything works out, make a purchase or schedule an appointment.
2. “Here to relax” type.
The second type of people online are here to scroll away, get distracted, and take that five-minute break that would eventually lead them down the rabbit hole researching anything from marine biology to that cockroach at the Met Gala.
As a content creator, you should be able to cater to both types. Your helpful content is directed at the first type of people — educate them, tell them about the aspects they haven’t considered yet, and help them to make a well-informed decision. But should all your content be useful?
Should you be only creating useful content?
While it’s difficult to measure, I’d argue that the second group makes up the majority of online users. Just think back to any project you recently had to finish and consider the time you’ve wasted procrastinating vs. the time it took to complete the job. Then add up all the times you took a five-minute break and reached for your phone to pass the time.
Scrollers are a great audience to market to, but you need to understand them and their motives. They are relaxed and don’t want to do anything that requires too much effort (they are probably scrolling away from something that requires effort).
They want that dopamine rush, so they are scrolling away if they aren’t getting it. They are open to new curious information, but it must be entertaining.
So once you’ve considered all that, you understand that with this audience, you really are up against cat videos and TikToks with this audience.
Can you capture the attention of a scroller?
You’ve probably been to a dozen marketing meetings where someone said that your content needs to “provide value.” For a scroller, value is easy to consume, provides that dopamine rush, and keeps them entertained.
Let’s look at “scroller’s customer journey” to understand them better.
- A scroller notices something interesting/curious/a scroll stopper.
- Curiosity leads them to read on.
- If the content keeps feeding curiosity, the scroller stays and gets their dopamine bump.
- they can also learn about your product while getting a dopamine bump.
- If the product is cheap, the scroller might buy it right away (for example, install an app that costs a couple of bucks). If it’s expensive, the scroller takes a mental note and moves on.
There are a few types of stories that can work as scroll stoppers. Consider the kinds of them that could work for your product or service.
- Stories. Other people’s stories. Stories of people who are similar to the scroller in some way.
- Curious facts. About things scrollers care about, but generally about things all people care about, like home, happiness, and food.
- Scandals and gossip. Yes, that’s human nature.
Things that are “close to home” facts and stories about my state, city and neighborhood. The closer it is to us, the more engaged we feel.
This article obviously would lose a test against cat videos, so if you’ve made it this far and are about to browse away to your favorite platform, try observing the types of scroll stoppers you react to and see if they fit into one of the four scenarios above.
Next time you are in one of those marketing meetings, think beyond competitors in your niche and use one of these four scenarios to compete for the scrollers’ attention. While they are in leisure mode, they are quite open to taking notes of products to buy in the future or even take actions on the spot, like ordering something inexpensive or committing differently: following you on social, signing up for your freebie or bookmarking the page for further reading.