Captivation Marketing: 7 Proven Ways to Hook Your Audience | Ben Parr | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Captivation Marketing: 7 Proven Ways to Hook Your Audience

teacher avatar Ben Parr, Author of Captivology & Venture Capitalist

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      The 3 Stages of Grabbing Attention


    • 3.

      Overview of the 7 Captivation Triggers


    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.



    • 8.



    • 9.



    • 10.



    • 11.

      Final Thoughts


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

Science meets creativity in this insightful one-hour class on how to captivate your audience with proven attention-grabbing methods.

Investor, entrepreneur, author and former Mashable editor Ben Parr shares his knowledge on “captivology” — the science of getting attention — drawing on real-world examples from Taylor Swift, Facebook, Ford Mustang,, Betty Crocker, and Gone With The Wind (to name a few).

Ben walks through the three stages of attention (immediate, short-term and long-term), and the seven captivation triggers that hook people into your product or brand:

  • Automaticity
  • Framing
  • Disruption
  • Rewards
  • Reputation
  • Mystery
  • Acknowledgement

This class is perfect for marketers, entrepreneurs, designers, brand managers, and any creator who wants to get more eyeballs on their work. 

By the end of this course, you’ll have an arsenal of tactics to grab more attention than ever and build long-term loyalty among your community.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Ben Parr

Author of Captivology & Venture Capitalist


Ben Parr is an award-winning journalist, entrepreneur, investor, and expert on growth and attention. He is a General Partner at Rostrum Capital, an early-stage venture firm and author of Captivology: The Science of Capturing People's Attention. Previously, he was Managing Partner at DominateFund, Co-Editor and Editor-at-Large of Mashable, and a columnist for CNET.

Parr was named one of the top ten tech journalists in the world by Say Media, one of the top 10 Internet of Things experts by Inc. Magazine, and named one of Forbes' 30 Under 30. He lives in San Francisco.

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Welcome: Hi everybody, my name is Ben Parr and I want to welcome you to my.Skillshare class, captivate your community, the science of getting attention. Let me introduce myself. I am an entrepreneur, author and Silicon Valley investor. I started out my career as the co-editor and editor at large of the tech site Mashable, but more recently I've been a venture capitalist investing in great startups like uBeam and Shots and this year came out with a book called Captivology, The Science of Capturing People's Attention. So this class is based off that book Captivology and how you can utilize that science to captivate your audience. Whether you're a freelancer and you need to capture the attention of your clients or you need to make your website pop or you're an entrepreneur and you're trying to get more users for your website or more customers for your product. The big things we're going to talk about today are the three stages of attention and why they are important and the seven captivation triggers. Everything from the color schemes that you use, down to techniques to get your pitch across to investors, to clients and to users. So, because I love interactivity, there's going to be a project along with this class and the project is simple. I want you to pitch me on either your company, your personal project or passion of yours or on yourself and I want you to utilize the captivation triggers in the three stages of attention to do it. Now, there are a couple of parameters you need to keep the short and pithy, you'll only get 30 seconds, if you use video or you only get a single page, if you're using text or graphics and by the way you can choose the medium in that you want to use most because I want you to use what you're best at and what your most creative about. So, be unique be special but make sure that you use the triggers and make sure it's something memorable as your first lesson attention and memory are intrinsically linked. If somebody doesn't remember something they didn't pay attention. Pitch too long, people forget. Make it short and succinct. As a bonus, the projects that are my favorites, the ones I capture my attention the most, are going to be ones that I share and I expose on my social networks to my hundreds of thousands of followers on Facebook, Twitter, et cetera. So, I'm looking forward to having you join me for this class,this class is for anybody that needs or wants to captivate their audience just a little more. It doesn't matter what industry you are, with this knowledge you will be able to captivate your audience. So, why don't we just dig the right into it. 2. The 3 Stages of Grabbing Attention: A lot of people think of attention as this on-off switch sort of thing, that it turns on and then turns off, and the truth is that attention is more nuanced than that, and attention goes in stages. Immediate attention is our immediate interests, is our unconscious attention, it's when we turn our head when we hear a gunshot, or we jump out of the way of a car when it's coming at us, or we close our nose whenever we find a bad smell. It's a system that protects us from danger, and it's influenced by lots of unconscious and subconscious triggers that we're going to talk about throughout this course. Then there's the second stage of attention short attention, and that's when we go into conscious attention, short-term interest, it's when we start listening to a song, or watching a YouTube video, or paying attention to an entire movie or speech, it is conscious and it is controlled by a system of the brain called working memory. And the only thing I really need you to know about working memory, is that it helps decide which things get forgotten, get put into short-term memory, and gets put into long-term memory. And your goal as a creator trying to captivate your audience is to get people to remember you over the long-term. Which leads us into the third stage of attention, long attention. Long attention is our long-term interests. Think of it as the difference between listening to a Beyonce song and becoming a lifelong fan of Beyonce and buying all of her albums, or the difference between watching an apple ad and buying and being in line for the new iPhones every single year. It's when we become dedicated to something, it's when your top of mind, it's when clients come to you rather than you having to come to them, and you need to walk your audience through these three stages of attention in order to captivate them. One of the biggest challenges and problems people have is they like to jump ahead to the second or third stage of attention, to short or long attention, and the truth is you can't do that, because people pay attention in stages. You need to think of attention like a bonfire, when you're starting a bonfire you can't just throw logs on and expect it to work. You have to first start with the spark and the ignition, then you could put on little kindling and little sticks to start building up the flame, before finally you can put on the big logs and build the bonfire that goes all night and doesn't need a ton of management. Attention is the same way, immediate attention is the spark, short attention is the kindling, and long attention is the bonfire that goes all night. I want you to keep the three stages of attention in mind the next time you're pitching a client or considering a plan to gain new users. You can't just start out with giving them long-term loyalty, or expecting them to come back to you, you need to get their attention first, you need to introduce yourself to them, that's immediate and short attention before you can get them to become loyal fans to follow you, to come back as paying clients, to recommend you to their friends. Now that we have gone through the three stages of attention, I think it's time for us to talk about the real meat of this class, which are the seven captivation triggers. 3. Overview of the 7 Captivation Triggers: The core tools you'll use to captivate your audience are the seven captivation triggers, and these are psychological triggers that captivate our attention and interests. Regardless of where we come from, our culture, our backgrounds, our history, they are fundamental to human nature. The seven triggers are; Automaticity, Framing, Disruption, Reward, Reputation, Mystery and Acknowledgement. Let me give you a little bit of background on each one. Automaticity is the first trigger. It is the tool we use to capture immediate attention. It is the fact that we pay attention to certain sights, sounds, colors, and other sensory stimuli at a subconscious and automatic level. What you'll learn in this class is how to utilize that, and what colors and what schemes will capture attention better for your product. Framing is the fact that we pay attention to things that fall within our frame of reference, and tend to ignore things that fall outside of it. You can see this everyday in politics where if you talk about gun control or climate change, you'll find that some people will not listen to certain ideas or evidence versus others and that's because of framing. What you'll learn is how to break through those frame of references and captivate your audience if they're not in your frame of reference already. The third trigger is Disruption. It is the most powerful trigger for capturing short attention. It is the fact that we pay attention to things that violate our expectations of the world because we have to assess whether those things are friendly or threats. You see this in everything from shock in all campaigns to really creative twists, and it's your job to figure out a way to disrupt your audience's expectations while staying on message, and I'll explain this a little bit more later on. The next trigger is Reward. It's the fact that we pay attention to intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, and the means and methods to achieve them. These rewards can be anything simple from food, money, and sex to more complicated ones, like self-satisfaction and sense of purpose. Your job is to utilize both these rewards and these types of rewards in order to captivate your audience and get them interested over the long-term because it's core to the dopamine loop that makes us pay attention. Reputation is the fact that we pay deference and pay attention to reputable sources of information more specifically experts, authority, figures and the crowd, and the science shows that we pay a huge amount of attention to experts and your goal is to find a way to create yourself as an expert to brand and identify yourself as an expert or to gain the endorsement of experts. The mystery trigger really focuses on the fact that we pay attention to mysteries and incomplete storylines, and that we need to come back in order to find out new information, it's a part of our compulsion for completion. You see this in things like the television show Loss which uses the cliff hangers to get people to come back week after week. But it's not just TV or books, mystery could be used in advertising, in pitching, in website design and I'll tell you how soon. Finally, the most powerful trigger them all is Acknowledgement. Acknowledgement is the strongest tool for capturing long attention, and it is the fact that we pay attention to the people and things that pay attention to us and provide us with validation, empathy, and understanding. It's the reason why we pay attention to celebrities so intently. It's why we care about being famous or popular. It's the reason why Apple has such longevity or Google or even Ford or others and we have brand loyalty, and your goal is to utilize acknowledgement and acknowledge your audience in order to make them more loyal, in order to show that you care and in return they care about you. That's a quick introduction to the seven captivation triggers of this class, and while you will not have to use every single one of them in every situation, they are the key tool set for capturing attention. By the time you're done with this class, you'll have figured out how to utilize these triggers to capture attention in any situation 4. Automaticity: The first trigger of this class is automaticity. Automaticity is the number one trigger yield used to capture immediate attention, to capture subconscious attention. That's because automaticity is the fact that we pay attention to certain sights, sounds, and stimuli, and colors especially more than others. That's because of our cultural biases and our biological biases. So, let me give you a quick example, there was a French scientist a couple of years ago who decided he wanted to figure out if wearing a different colored shirt would get you picked up more often as a hitchhiker. What he found was that on average for men, for example, they'd be picked up more often if they're wearing brighter colors, yellows, oranges, and neon's. This was because they had a higher contrast with their surroundings. Imagine on the road, the dark grass, and ground, and dirt that you'd be surrounded by and how much that yellow and orange would pop. What he found interesting though was that, when women wore these shirts, there was a different reaction. On average, women in the study were picked up 13 percent of the time if they wore any colored shirt except for the color red. In which case there were picked up 21 percent of the time, nearly double. The reason for this was actually because of subconscious bias we have in Western culture between red and romanticism. In fact, another study found that if you're just wearing a red shirt, the opposite gender on average will sit six inches closer to you. If you put a thick red border around a person's face, the opposite gender will rate you as several points more attractive. So, automaticity is the fact that we pay attention subconsciously to these symbols, to these stimuli. There's two key components you need to remember, that is contrast and association. Contrast is the level of contrast an object has with its surroundings. For example, a gunshot has high contrast with a quiet room, and that's where we are going to pay attention to a gunshot in a quiet room. In the other hand if you're in a very, very loud arena, a gunshot might not be as noticeable. In your case, color is going to be the number one thing. Certain colors just pop out on certain surroundings over others. If you go to Amazon and any web page for example, if you go say, "Check out my book," you'll notice that the buttons for buying are yellow and orange. The reason for that, is that they have very high contrast with the white and gray backgrounds at Amazon has. That's why you see these colors all the time for buy buttons and they work the best, but almost any bright color will work. Neon's and green's work as well. There's been studies to show that these buttons work when it comes to contrast, but contrast is only half the equation. You have to also think about association. So, while orange is a great color for a website buy button, it may not be the greatest for let's say a business suit, because in Western culture orange actually has a low correlation with competence, while blue has a high correlation. That's why you see more suits with blue linings and dark blues and blacks, rather than bright oranges, because I can imagine if you walked into a job interview in an orange suit you'd get laughed off the room. This is the power of association. There's a whole slew of associations and I have a few listed here that you can remember. There is a bunch of studies about this, but you also have to remember that a lot of these biases are cultural. Some cultures and some colors are universal. What I mean by that is for example cold. Blue is the color of cold almost across every culture. You're very safe if you're trying to express cold by using blue. On the other hand love has different colors in different cultures. Green is the color of love for example in Hindi, and yellow is the color of love in Native America, and blue is the color of love in Africa. So, you need to keep these kinds of things in mind and it's really important. Facebook's another good example of great color design. So, Mark Zuckerberg is actually partially colorblind, and that was part of the reason why you chose blue as the main color of Facebook, because blue is a color he can see. You need to think about things like color blindness when you're making the designs for your website or for your app, because it's very easy to, for example, make queues based off colors but that's not actually good design. You need to also include symbols that people recognize if they're colorblind. You need to think about what would this website look like if I were partially colorblind or completely colorblind. There are ways to test this, and be able to test what are the best buttons if people are colorblind, and what are the best contrast if people are red-green or another colorblindness. Facebook is a very good example of this but you need to think about it as well, and think about not just the colors you're using when it comes to colorblindness, but also the symbols that we use in replacement for somebody who is colorblind. When it comes to logo design, you really need to think about what message you want to send across. So, there was a famous study done a few years ago. What they did was, they would put a brick in front of people. They would ask them in the course of about two to three minutes to come up with as many creative uses for that brick as possible. What they learned was that people could come up with crazy ways, but there would be more creative if before they started the task they saw the Apple logo. They were less creative if they saw the IBM logo. So, actually little things like the associations we have with the logo have an automaticity effect on our attention. Now, in your case you may not have 50, 60 years of branding like IBM and Apple do, but you can start the process with the colors you choose. IBM has a blue logo, and blue is correlated with competence. That's definitely something that a B2B company like IBM is really going for. Black is correlated with sophistication. That is definitely a factor that Apple is going for. You have to think about the different colors you want to use. Brown is highly correlated with ruggedness, while yellow is highly correlated with excitement. We'll have a full list of these in the class. Remember, automaticity is the number one triggered used for capturing immediate attention, because first impressions are everything. You need to utilize the right colors, the right sounds, the right symbols to draw your audience's attention in and to send the right message because nothing is worse than mixed messaging and having the wrong color scheme for the wrong message. If you're trying to build a sophisticated product, a luxury product, you better be using black because if you're using yellow or pink, people won't take you seriously and you've already lost from the start. You don't want to put yourself at a disadvantage from the very beginning. Now, that we've covered the basics of automaticity. It's time to jump to the next psychological trigger of attention, and that is framing. 5. Framing: The second captivation trigger is framing, and framing is the fact that we pay attention to the people and things that fall within our frame of reference, and we tend to ignore the things that fall outside of it. Now, what is a frame of reference? A frame of reference is simply a lens in which we view the world. So, for example, if you're born in America, you're going to have a different lens than, say, someone born in Africa. You're going to have a different opinion on things like gun control, or poverty, or climate change. As a result, you're going to pay attention to some information more than others. It's important that we have the power to ignore some things through the power of framing. If someone comes to you and claims that giant lizard robots are actually in control of the government, you probably should ignore him or her. It's probably not worth your time because your attention is precious. But sometimes, this kind of framing effect makes it hard for you as a creator to captivate your audience. Let me give you a classic example of this in action. So, in the 1910s, there was a female entrepreneur. Her name was Edna Murphey. She was 16 years old, and her father just invented an antiperspirant for his hands because he was a surgeon, and he didn't want to sweat when he was doing surgeries. Edna Murphey realized that this antiperspirant could be used for armpits, and so she turned it into a product called Odorono. That's literally what it was called, and tried to market it. But she found that we had a hard time marketing a deodorant antiperspirant in the 1910s because of two reasons. One, antiperspirant was not popular because people thought that they would kill you, and they thought that it was dangerous to use. The second reason was people didn't use antiperspirants or deodorants because it was not something you could talk about. It was not ladylike or Victorian to talk about bodily fluids or body odors or anything of the sort. Now, Edna Murphey was a very determined entrepreneur. She got a small investment from her grandfather and she teamed up with a guy named James Webb Young who eventually became the first chairman of the Ad Council. They decided they needed to find a way to reframe the conversation and tackle this framing problem. First problem, how do you get people to pay attention to deodorant and the fact that it's not going to kill you? Well, a doctor invented it. So they would advertise the fact that a doctor invented it very heavily. Now the bigger one, how did they get people to start talking about deodorants because it wasn't ladylike or proper to talk about bodily fluids. Well, they put out an ad in 1919 called Within the Curve of a Woman's Arm, a frank discussion of a subject too often avoided. In this ad, which was in Ladies Home Journal, they talk basically about how everyone has body odor, you don't have to be ashamed of it, there's a way to fix it, it's called Odorono. But this ad was one of the most controversial things in 1919. Hundreds of women canceled their Ladies Home Journal subscriptions in protest of that ad. But it did its job. The ad made it okay to talk about antiperspirants and deodorants and to advertise it. Suddenly, a new market flooded open and Odorono took off like a rocket ship. A few years later, Edna was able to sell her company for millions of dollars. So there are certain ways to get across and out of the framing problem. The two things you need to remember is that you need to either adapt to your audience's frame of reference or to reframe the conversation, and expectations are everything. Donald Trump is actually a perfect example of this. So Donald Trump has defied political conventions in the summer of 2015 where most politicians if they said the things he said about immigrants or refugees, their political careers might have been over. But the same is not true for Donald Trump and that's because he's built our frame of reference where you expect these kinds of things from him. Scarcity is powerful on our attention because we attribute more value to an object that is scarce versus another object that is not scarce. There was a study and what they did was they put textbooks down, and they had people rate how much they were valued. Now, in some of these cases, they would say the textbook was in limited supply because of its popularity. In other cases, they say the textbook was in limited supply because of a production issue. What they found was that people do attribute more value to something that is scarce. But only if it's scarce because of outside reasons, and not because of popularity. If something is popular that doesn't add more value, but if it's a production problem or a third party factor or seasonal, more value will be attributed to it and people will change their frame of reference towards the scarce item. Google is a master of using scarcity to change frames of reference. It started with Gmail. A decade ago when the search giant first launched Gmail, they made it a limited invite system and people clamored for these invites. People only got a few at a time, and so they started having a black market where people would sell their invites for $100 a pop. But it made people value Gmail more, and value the product more, and value the invites more, and it is a critical component of what made Gmail a success. The key here is that you need to think through your audience's frame of reference, and adapt your message, or adapt your product, or adapt your design based on that frame of reference. So let's take guns for an example. Pretend you are an entrepreneur pitching a smart gun, and you're trying to get everyone to buy it. The biggest mistake you could make is to use the same pitch for all your different audiences because people have such different views on guns. You need to adapt to your audience. If you're pitching, for example, to a pro-gun control group, you need to talk about how it'll improve gun control, how it will help you track criminals, how it'll protect from children accidentally using guns. On the other hand, if you're pitching, let's say the National Rifle Association, the NRA, you need to think about how a smart gun will make the gun better, make the gun more efficient, make it easier to clean and use, make it so that you can find your gun if you lose it. These are the things they're looking for, and you have to adapt your pitch every time. If you are a smart entrepreneur, if you are trying to really get everyone to buy it. So when you're designing your next product, or your next website, or your next idea, really think through your audience's frame of reference. Are they more male or female? Are they more politically to the left or to the right? Who are they? Because once you know that, it will help you make much smarter and much more informed design decisions. Framing is a powerful tool on our attention. But what if you don't even have their attention in the first place, how do you get your audience to turn their heads towards you? Well, the next trigger, disruption, is the number one tool for that. 6. Disruption: Now we come to the disruption trigger, which is one of my favorite triggers because it is the most powerful captivation trigger for captivating short attention. The disruption trigger is simple. It's the fact that we pay attention to anything that violates our expectations of the world. This is because when things violate the expectations and the rules of how the world is supposed to work, we are forced to pay attention because we have to assess. Is this thing a threat or a positive development? It comes from our basic biology, 20-30 thousand years ago when we were hunter-gatherers, we would scan the surroundings looking for things that were out of place because it was necessary for survival. It could either be food in that rustle in the leaves or it could be a possible threat. You hear a roar, it could be saber-toothed tiger. Now in the modern era, I don't know about you, but I haven't run into a saber-toothed tiger recently. But there are plenty of other things we run into on a daily basis that captivate our interests based on surprise and based on disruption. Now you see this all the time in advertising and shock campaigns are a good example of positive one is Patagonia. A Patagonia is a clothing company that a few years ago did the famous campaign where they told people to not buy their jackets and said, "Don't buy this jacket", which is the opposite of what you expect to clothing company to do. Now, when you dig deeper you'll learn that there was a reason for it. They didn't want you to buy their stuff unnecessarily because that could hurt the environment and they were willing to help you repair your clothes. Of course, they sell you a new jacket if you really wanted one. As a result of this campaign telling people not to buy their stuff, more people bought their stuff. Their sales nearly doubled within nine months. The disruption trigger is really powerful and you can use it in almost any situation, but I want you to remember what I call the three S's. They are surprise, simplicity, and significance. Surprise is very clear cut. You need to surprise people with a disruption trigger. It has to be something they're not expecting. Simplicity is the fact that you need to have something that is a single message and this is a big mistake lots of people make. They want to fit into three or four different ideas into a single disruption or into a single thought. But all the scientific research shows that when you make people shift or divide their attention, they pay far less attention and they have a far less chance of remembering the message you want them to remember. Remember, attention and memory are intrinsically linked. Make it so that they have to remember one thing and one thing only. Finally, significance. Significance is important because whatever disruption you're using or utilizing has to match your brand's values. So a couple years ago, a major PR firm worked with the Thai government to get children to smoke less. It was an issue, it's was still and is an issue, but what they did in really, really interestingly was they would have kids run up to adults that were smoking and they'd have cameras secretly recording and these kids would ask for the smokes. Of course, these adults were them, "No, you can't, you're too young", and then it gets to be like, "Why not, you're smoking", and the adults would explain how it's bad to smoke and it's not healthy and then the kids would be like "Then why are you smoking?" This act campaign went completely viral not just in Thailand, but across the world. It was an award winning campaign and it was very disruptive because it was surprising having kids come and ask for smokes from adults. It was simple, the message was, "You shouldn't smoke", and no other message and it was significant. This disruption matched the values of teaching people they shouldn't smoke and showing them the harm of smoking in the context of children and the impact that it would have on children. It really shows that you need to have something that's surprising and something that is really simple because if you don't surprise them it's not disruptive, and if it's not simple, then people will get mixed messages. There's nothing worse than having too many messages. You want them to remember one thing. But most of all it has to be significant. It has to match the values of your brand. Another good example is my friend Joe Fernandez of Cloud. He did a little disruption to get his company started. In the early days, he didn't have the domain some other person did and he wasn't able to convince this guy initially to sell it to him. But being a persistent entrepreneur, he messaged them every week and the guy would keep on saying no until finally, the man tweeted he was in San Francisco at a restaurant and what Joe did the founder, was he put $5,000 in cash into an envelope and drove straight to the restaurant, sat down and begged him to take the money right there and sell him the domain. He got the agreement right there, pull up the laptop and they switched their domains and close the deal right there in the restaurant. That was a complete surprise, but that certainly caught his attention because he could have probably ignore Joe for the rest of his life, if it hadn't been for Joe doing something a little bit different. One more example is classic. In the 1950's Ford had unveiled the Ford Mustang, then they wanted it to be this big luxury car that everyone would want. So, Ford figured out they wanted to do a very disruptive campaign. What they did was they took a Ford Mustang and they cut it apart and they stuffed it in the elevators of the Empire State Building and they took it all the way to the top floor and they reassembled it in the dark of night. Then when the morning came and the morning news choppers came and everyone else looking, there was a Ford Mustang on the top of the Empire State Building, an impossible feet. Disrupted, everyone was asking how did it happen? How did they do it? Did they helicopter it in, but there were no helicopters last night. Did they get it up the elevator? But it's too big for the elevators, and made people talk and ask and it elevated literally the Ford Mustang above it's competitors. Disruption is the trigger to use when you're trying to shift someone's attention towards you. It is the ultimate tool of fraud attention, but you have to be skillful in using it. So remember the three S's; simplicity, surprise, and most of all, significance. The biggest mistake everybody makes when using the disruption trigger is not making the disruption significant to their brand. Quiznos had this mistake and what they did a few years ago was they had a very quirky ad campaign where they had these mutant looking rodents singing off key about their sandwiches. Now it was very unique, but the problem was who wants to eat food being advertised by mutant looking rodents? It makes no sense. As a result, the campaign didn't work. People paid attention, but it didn't make them want sandwiches, and Quiznos went bankrupt in 2014 as a result of their bad management and the bad practices. So, you really have to think through what it's going to be significant for your audience. Saying something off the wall might be okay for a rapper, but it's not going to be okay for a politician. On the other hand, proposing a new and unique economic theory makes sense for a politician to do, but makes no sense for a rapper or an actor to say. So, you have to think what is significant with your audience while still being disruptive and violating expectations. Disruption may be the trigger that gets people to pay attention, but it doesn't keep their attention. For that, you need other triggers. You need to use the reward trigger. 7. Rewards: To explain the reward trick and how it works, I have to talk to you about dopamine. You've probably heard of dopamine. You probably think of it as this chemical in the brain that creates pleasure, but that's actually not quite accurate. Friend of mine, Dr. Kent Berridge of the University of Michigan, he did a fascinating study on mice and what he did was he took the dopamine out of mice, in order to see what would happen if a mouse didn't have dopamine. What he learned was that, a mouse without dopamine could still feel pleasure. You give it sugar water, it would still find it tasty. But what happened with these mice was that they all lost the motivation to do anything to achieve rewards. They were also demotivated in fact that most of them died, because they weren't motivated enough to eat food and survive. When it comes to our attention, the reward trigger is powerful because we pay attention to the things that will help us achieve rewards and the rewards themselves. I guess what I mean by that is in the dopamine loop, we desire something and our attention focuses on that desire. There are two types of rewards you need to be aware of when it comes to the reward trigger. The first is intrinsic rewards and the second is extrinsic rewards. Now extrinsic rewards are ones you're very familiar with, they are short-term rewards like food, money, sex, and drugs. They provide a short-term boost and the research shows that we pay almost automatic attention to these things. There's a pile of money in a room, you're going to look at it. But it's not enough to capture attention with just extrinsic rewards, you have to also use intrinsic rewards. Intrinsic rewards are longer-term, more interpersonal self-satisfaction rewards. Things like having a purpose in life or having the chance to master a new skill or learn something in a job or just self-satisfaction or safety. These are all different things we desire internally and we look for as rewards. Now, when it comes to delivering rewards, there are six different ways you can do it, and each of these ways changes the way in which we perceive and interact with the product and they are incentives, post action rewards, collections, random rewards, gifting, and lotteries. Incentive is the clearest and simplest one, you've used them before in airlines. It's if I give you this, you'll get that. If you fly with us enough, you'll get miles. Post action rewards on the other hand is you getting a reward for taking an action, but you didn't know you would receive a reward in the first place, and there's a company called Kip that does this. What they do for example, is when you're in a mobile game and you get a high score, you might get a notification being like, ''Congratulations on achieving a new high score, here are some in-game currency,'' or if you would achieve in best time in a running app, it might be, ''Congratulations, here's a Gatorade.'' The science shows that these kinds of post action rewards stick on our memory longer and provide us with more happiness and thus we pay more attention. Now lotteries, are very clear cut. It's just like any other lottery system and we pay attention to those. Collections are something you're familiar with if you've ever gone to a McDonald's during monopoly season and they have the monopoly game, where you collect different items. We are collecting by nature and so we'll pay attention to collective rewards. Gifting is something you're familiar with if you've ever played a mobile game like Farmville or Clash of Clans and they do a very good job of making it seem like you are giving your friend a cow or in-game currency. But in reality, you're not giving them anything, it's the game that's giving them. But it's wrapped around your friends and so it feels more personal or it feels more powerful because it is being given from one person to another or it feels like it. That's why these mobile games can be so powerful on our attention. They are masters of the reward trigger. Finally, random rewards, which is just putting rewards at random. It's very similar to post action rewards. But we pay attention when there's random reward because our brains want to figure out when the next reward will come. We'll keep playing the game or looking through an app if we were looking for that random reward. I have two pieces of advice when it comes to delivering rewards the most effectively. The first is make it visual and present it because we are more likely to desire a reward that we can see or that we can feel, or we can touch. There was a study done by a Harvard professor and what he did was he had students create Bionicle Lego sets. In one group of these students, what he would do is he would give them a dollar for the first time they completed a set and then 5 cents less for each set. So, think a dollar for set one, 0.95 cents for set two, 90 cents for set three, and he would do this for both groups. But one group they would have the researchers take apart the Lego set and have to rebuild. In the second set, what would happen was they would take these completed sets and put them up for display, and then the students would start a new set. What the researchers found was that students were far more likely to complete more sets when they could see the fruits of their labor, the intrinsic rewards, and would complete four more sets even though they were having a diminishing monetary reward, a diminishing extrinsic reward. So, making it present and making it visual is really important and you can see this in simply like putting a picture of drugs, or the actual drugs, or just putting a plate of muffins will make us desire them more because it's visual and it's more present. Second piece of advice is to make sure you balance intrinsic and extrinsic rewards especially when it comes to your menu design, if for your websites or for your restaurant if you happen to have one. There was a fascinating study and what happened was, they would take menus at McDonald's or other chains, and in one menu they'd have something like fries and a salad, and in another menu they have fries and a baked potato. Baked potatoes still being not that healthy but far less healthy than the salad and the french fries being worst of all. What people found, these researchers found is that when you had a healthy option and unhealthy option, people were more likely to choose the unhealthy option because of something called vicarious goal fulfillment. What happens is when we consider eating the salad, we are fulfilling a vicarious internal goal of being healthy by just considering it, and as a result we feel more compelled to take the extrinsic reward of tasty food. Merely considering the intrinsic reward will make them more likely to choose the extrinsic one. So, be careful when you're putting together those menus and putting together your options and the choices you're giving users. Next up, we're going to learn about how experts and authority figures and the crowd can sway our attention. 8. Reputation: We pay attention to reputable sources of information like authority figures, the crowd and most of all experts. This is the essence of the reputation trigger. Now, there are two scientific factors that make us pay attention to these kinds of figures. The first is something called directed deference. There was a study done at Emory University, what they did was they track the brain activity of students when they were making economic decisions, decisions with their money. But in half the case studies, they would give them advice from an expert on how to use their money, this encase a professor of economics. And what they found was that in general, the decision-making centers of the brain would light up when they're making complex economic decisions. But, when they're getting advice from an expert, those decision-making centers almost completely shut down. It was as if they offloaded the processing power of their brains of the expert. We rely on experts to guide us through the world, and it makes sense in a lot of ways because if a doctor tells you you have cancer, you should probably listen to that doctor and what that doctor has to say about your treatments. Now, there are three types of reputable sources as I said before that you need to consider. The first are experts, and the other reason we pay attention to them beyond directed deference is the fact that we trust them. Now, in the last five years, a global PR firm called Edelman has surveyed thousands of people in a trust survey to find out which people we trust the most. And every single year consistently they find that out of all the spokespeople you could have for a brand, experts are the number one most trusted, and at the very bottom are government officials and CEOs. We are built to trust experts in expertise. Authority figures have power over us specifically because there are consequences to not paying attention to them and you see this in dictatorships, and you see this in kingships and other sorts areas. And the final type of reputable source that you need to know about is the crowd. And the crowd works because it acts kind of like an expert, and you see this in places like Yelp. Yelp reviews are trusted in general because we trust the aggregate information of the crowd, and in general, the crowd is more accurate than a single individual when it comes to assessing something. If you're trying to guess how many jelly beans are in a jar, the crowd's average is going to be far closer to the right number than any one individual ever. Now, your goal as a creator is to either establish yourself as an expert or to harness the power of experts. Richard Branson is an example of somebody who's established himself as an expert. Branson has created content consistently over the years, talk about business, talking about building and entrepreneurship, and as a result, he's become respected in the field and people will listen and pay attention to him. Bill Gates has become an expert in philanthropy by not just doing it, by consistently talking about it and going on shows and making his purpose and his mission. The very simplest way to establish yourself as an expert is to create content consistently, the 3C's as I call them. And to create content in the area that you want to be an expert in. Do you want to be known as an expert in design? You should because people will come to you and offer you jobs and client work if they know you as an expert in that key area, and the only way to establish that beyond your work is to talk about it, to write about it, to speak about it, to teach other people about it. The reputation trigger is unique because it also captures both short and long attention depending on the situation but it is most useful for long attention, because a reputable source, a reputable person, an expert will automatically draw our attention when he or she comes in the room because of the reputation that built over years. Now, I want to note that it is easy to abuse the power of the reputation trigger. But you shouldn't because when you do that, it can go in the opposite direction. Warren Buffett probably said it best. "It takes 20 years to build a reputation but five minutes to destroy it." If you think about that, you'll do things differently. We've talked a lot about triggers that capture short-term attention, but now let's talk about storytelling and the power of mysteries and the mystery trigger and why mysteries capture our attention. 9. Mystery: In the early 1900's, the adventures of Catherine was a major success. It was a serial where this young woman Catherine, like Laura Croft, would go on adventures, going through India, trying to escape from danger and at the end of every episode, she'd be stuck in prison or literally on a cliff and then you didn't know what happened next and you'd have to wait two weeks for the next episode to air or the next episode to be printed in the Chicago newspapers. The adventures of Catherine invented the cliffhanger and the cereal and demonstrates the power of the mystery trigger. The mystery trigger forces us to pay attention to story lines with mysteries and incomplete story lines because of two scientific reasons. The first is the zeigarnik effect and that is the fact that we have a stronger memory for incomplete tasks and incomplete thoughts and it was discovered by Soviet researcher named Bluma Zegarnik. The second reason is something called uncertainty reduction theory, and you've probably noticed this on first dates before. Where when you're on a first date, you're going to ask small talk questions like who are you, where are you from, what are your hobbies, your brothers or sisters. But have you ever wondered why we ask those questions? One theory, the uncertainty reduction theory states that the main reason we do this is because we dislike uncertainty and so, our goal is to reduce uncertainty at every level as much as we can when we first meet someone. In the case of first dates this is why we ask those simple questions to figure out is this person worth our time or not. In the form of mysteries when there is uncertainty, we feel a compulsion for completion to find out the answer so that we can reduce that uncertainty in our lives and when we can't, we pay attention to the mystery and we keep paying attention. This is why shows like Lost, do so well. There's always a cliffhanger, there's always a reason to keep paying attention and it's not just a storytelling element in films and TV shows. You can use it for your story telling too for your projects and your products as creators. There are four key elements of mysteries you need to remember if you're to utilize and harnessed the mystery trigger and they are emotional buy-in, the cliffhanger, the plot twist and suspense. Now, we've talked a little bit about the cliffhanger, it's that event that gets us to go to the next thing it's that mystery endpoint. But you need emotional buy-in as well in order for us to care about the cliffhanger the first place. Nothing is worse than having a product or characters that we haven't bought into. You can't just start off with the cliffhanger because without the buy-in no one cares about what the end result is. Now, suspense is kind of the glue that holds a mystery together. It's the emotional component that we feel and you need to make sure you bring that emotion out. There was a study done in 1970's and what they found was that when ads had more moment to moment emotional suspense, not necessarily a mystery ending, but the mystery of what's going to happen during the ad, people could remember the ad better, would pay more attention to the ad, and rated it higher and you see this with I think the best ads. One of the best rated ads of this year's Super Bowl was the Budweiser puppy at where a puppy gets lost and is trying to find its way back to its home and it gets rescued from wolves by the Budweiser horses. Now, we all know that Budweiser is not going to kill a puppy on a Super Bowl commercial. They're not evil like that, they're not nationwide. Instead however, we have a moment to moment suspense. We're wondering how is the puppy going to escape? How is the puppy going to get away from the wolves? Will the horses help him? These little moment to moment suspense has made us pay attention to even a 32 second story like the Budweiser ad. This is the kind of element you can add to your story telling that'll make it more interesting and captivating because mysteries capture our attention. Now, the last piece you need to remember is the plot twist, and this comes from one of the most powerful triggers of them all, the disruption trigger. You need to have something that changes the game in some way. Nothing is worse than being able to predict the story and no matter even if you're telling a long-term story, you have to use the disruption trigger and a plot twist to change the direction so that people are on their toes. Another example this is my good friend John Armstrong. He is one of the world's leading magicians and close hand magician tricks and what he does is at the very beginning of his shows, he acts like a bumbling fool so that he gets his audience off guard. It's also a framing effect. He does this for a while until suddenly he pulls out a superbly impossible to predict trick and he shows just how talented he is and suddenly people's expectations are violated, it's a plot twist. As a result of that, people pay attention to the rest of the show because now they know and realize, "Holy crap, he's really good," and they also realize that their expectations are violated. They need to keep paying attention on their toes because it could happen again. When utilized best, the mystery trigger is a powerful tool for capturing our long attention because we want to pay attention to these kinds of mysteries and we say C8 over those little details. Russell Burwell was a very good example of utilizing the mystery trigger to capture long attention. He was a PR promoter on films and movies in the early years, and he was put on assignment to help promote this little movie called Gone With the Wind. Now, Gone With the Wind had already had some attention because of the book, but what made it one of the biggest movies of all time and one of the highest rated movies and most selling movies based on gross adjusted return of that time is the fact that they made a mystery out of the search for Scarlett. The search for Scarlett was the search for the female actress Scarlett O'Hara and the press would follow at every single point all the new actresses both newbies and veterans who were applying for the role and being tested for the role and they did this for a full year and Russell Burwell would sneak in little bits about different actresses in different places in different locations to the press and made it a national topic for a full year so that by the time they finally pick their Scarlett O'Hara and they had the movie go into theaters, it was a huge success and he used mystery in the campaign of creating of a film that we knew how it would end but we didn't know how the search for Scarlett would end which helped it become one of the most popular movies of all time. My friend Steven Soderbergh the director of Ocean's Eleven said it best which is that, "Mystery is a good thing. It's a good thing in life and it's a good thing in narrative." Mystery makes us want to explore more and learn more and I think that's part of why it's so compelling as a captivation triggers and why if you find a unique way to use it, you should. Because if there's no mystery, then there's nothing to pay attention to. But while mystery is a powerful tool for capturing or long attention, it is not the most powerful. The most powerful is acknowledgement and we're going to talk about that one next. 10. Acknowledgement: According to multiple studies, the number one thing children ages 11 to 13 desire is fame. I don't think that surprises you, but the reason why we desire fame and especially children desire fame might. The reason isn't because of power or money or prestige, it's because of belonging and acknowledgement. The studies found that kids want to be famous because they believe it is the easiest and quickest path to acceptance from others. For others to love and acknowledge us, and that is the root of the acknowledgement trigger. It's the power of acknowledging somebody because when we acknowledge somebody or something, it pays attention back to us and the acknowledgement trigger is as follows. We pay attention to the people and things that pay attention to us and provide us with validation, empathy and understanding because this is a long-term relationship type of power. The acknowledgement trigger is by far the most powerful of all the captivation triggers, and is the most powerful on capturing long attention. I want you to do a quick exercise. I want you to write down the words you would use to describe Jennifer Lawrence. Go on I'll wait. You probably wrote something if you like her like funny or personable or whatever you might have said, but second question, how many of you've actually met Jennifer Lawrence? I haven't either, but a lot of us can say about her personality and the same is true of other people and other brands. In fact, we have this powerful capability to have a two-way relationship with a celebrity or a brand when in fact we only have a one-way relationship. This is something known as the pari-social relationship, and it's a scientific phenomena of how we embrace our leaders and how we embrace our stars. Now, the biggest way to build a pari-social relationship with your audience is through acknowledgment. So, an example, Taylor Swift, is a master at this. Every Christmas she videotapes herself wrapping gifts for a few of her fans that she stalks. Random Christmas gifts, and then she sends them out. What happens is that these fans unwrap their gifts and post these unwrappings on YouTube, and they all go viral. What Taylor Swift has done has shown that she cares about audience by giving them something. She doesn't have to give us something, she doesn't have to give something to every member of our audience for it to work. She just has to show that she cares. By doing that, she's built a deep and powerful relationship with her audience. Another recent example is Rory McIlroy the golfer. A Facebook commenter just asked him for a golf club and Rory himself answered as like I would love to give you one of my golf clubs, here's an entire set. He got his address and send his golf clubs. Complete surprise, so disruption trigger. But proving that he cared and he listened and he read and this story went viral. By doing something simple like this, his audience became more engaged and he showed a piece of himself. That is the power of the acknowledgement trigger, and there are different stages and levels. Your goal is to provide belongingness, is to provide validation, is to provide a connection. Now, my number one tip for creating this connection is through the power of participation. Let your audience participate in the creation or the improvement of your product or your company or your idea of your brand in some way. Betty Crocker did this a couple of years ago, 50 we'll say. In the 1950's, they were trying to promote cake mix. They had just made Bisquick and Bizquick was popular but cake mix wasn't taking off at all. They didn't understand why. So, they enlisted two researchers and they asked them what was going on, figure it out and eventually these researchers did figure it out. The answer was eggs. Back on the 1950's this cake mix had powdered eggs in it. So, all you have to do is add water and poof it was ready to go. But the problem with that was that the audience didn't feel like they were participating in the creation. They couldn't put their own twist their own flare. It was too easy. Now, what Betty Crocker did was literally make their product harder to use. By making it so you had to put in fresh eggs, and honestly, there's not that much of a taste difference between fresh and powdered eggs in most of these recipes. But by making it harder to use, people wanted to make cake mix more, and Betty Crocker cake mix took off like a rocket ship. A more modern day example would be Kickstarter and that is the perfect use both Kickstarter and Indiegogo of allowing your audience to participate because they feel like and they are part of that process of creation of being part of your journey every step of the way from inception to launch. Sometimes, it's also just as simple as acknowledging the problems that your audience has. Comcast, Virgin America and a couple other brands in the early days, really took it upon themselves to answer the questions of their audience. So, when someone would complain in the early days about Comcast on Twitter, they had an account called at Comcast Cares that would reach out and help solve the problems and this was actually good PR for a company that has had terrible PR over the years. Some of the airlines jumped in too, American Airlines, Southwest, Virgin America, all have done a really good job of building social teams and social accounts that would reach out when someone was complaining about their flight or having a problem and help them solve it. This has resulted in much better customer experience. I know whenever one of these airlines reaches out to me when I'm having a problem, I at least appreciate it and know that they're trying or that they care. That acknowledgment process is powerful. There are two tricky parts of the acknowledgement trigger. The first is if you don't have any audience at all. This is why the acknowledgement trigger is the final trigger. You have to build up to it. You have to build an audience through the disruption, through the automaticity trigger, through framing, through reward, through reputation, through mystery. Once you start building off that audience by consistently creating content and outreaching and building a great product, it will start growing on its own. But it can be frustrating in the beginning because not a lot of people may hear you in the early days, but you have to keep at it, and it's as simple as perseverance. The second issue is creating an actual genuine connection. It can be very hard to create a connection with a brand, to feel like you have a connection with a brand whether it is a corporate brand or personal brand or something else like that. You have to be genuine and you have to be truthful but you also have to consistently show your personality and be consistent with your message. I don't have a sure-fire tip for how you create a genuine connection beyond create a genuine connection. Be absolutely genuine because people can read when you're lying, when you're not passionate about something. Find that thing you're passionate about. So, as we've seen, the acknowledgement trigger is the tool to use to build an audience and loyalty over the long term. But it is the end the journey of the seven captivation triggers. We start with automaticity and automatic reaction and immediate attention, and we go into framing and how we perceive things. Short attention and disruption, and how do we get people to pay attention? Reward and reputation and how do we get people to stay loyal? Mysteries, how do we tell that story? Acknowledgment, how do we get people to care about us and care about our message? How do we show that we care in return? Together from automaticity to acknowledgment, you have the full tool set to capture attention. You just have to figure out where and when to use each trigger, because not every situation require all seven triggers. Depending on which stage of attention you're at. 11. Final Thoughts: I know we've covered a lot and there's a lot to go through. So, let me give you a quick recap. There are three stages of attention, immediate attention, short attention and long attention. It's the three stages of attention that you must walk your audience through, to truly capture their interest. There are seven captivation triggers that make us pay attention at a psychological level, automaticity, framing, disruption, reward, reputation, mystery, and acknowledgement. I see this is the beginning of your journey of learning how to utilize these tools to captivate your audience, to make them listen. Whether they are a few donors, or a few clients, or one billion users, the tools are the same. Now, it's time to put them into practice and I want to see what you can do. I want to see your best pitch, your best story about either yourself, or your brand, or your company, whatever that might be, your passion, and you get a chance to express yourself. Use the seven triggers to captivate me at all three stages of attention. Use a 30-second video, or use a web page, or use something else I wouldn't expect, that's the whole point. Surprise me and my favorite ones, I will share on my social accounts, and I will share with the rest of the world. Now, I want to leave you with one final message about attention. It's this, attention is a positive tool for instilling change in the world. The masters of attention, the people who truly changed the world, aren't trying to get attention for themselves saying me, me, me, me. They're trying to bring attention to their projects, to their passions, to their ideas, to their charities, to their campaigns, to their startups, to their projects. Attention is a good thing to court for the great cause and we can see that, and we can see when people are trying to court attention for a good thing. So, go out there and be proud to court attention, for something you're passionate and proud of. Be ready to court attention in a world, where there are more distractions than ever. You have the tools now.