IP < AQ

I saw an example of guerilla marketing a few days ago - a homemade sign tacked to a telephone pole that said "Carpet Cleaning $20 per room" and a phone number. Not much information for prospective customers to go on, but then again, you can't put much information on an 18" X 18" sign and expect speeding motorists to read it. I've always heard that even on billboards, messages should be seven words or fewer.

This circumstance suggests a marketing principle. Expressed in mathematical terms, we might posit that IP < AQ, where IP is the amount of information provided and AQ is the attention quotient of the audience. I don't really know what an attention quotient is since I'm making this up, but let's suppose that it is the amount of time and attention that a given person can bring to bear on any one marketing message at a time. If you're driving at 50 mph in heavy traffic, then your attention quotient will be very low. If you're surfing the web after dinner and you have a couple hours to kill, then your attention quotient will be relatively high.

It is up to the marketer to provide information that is equal to or less than their audience's attention quotient. So, going back to my carpet cleaning sign above, you can see that the fly-by-night marketer made a pretty good call. Drivers don't have much attention to spare, so he or she provided an extremely brief message. Forget the fact that the carpet cleaning business left out stuff like: the name of the business, their address, their experience, their quality, their definition of a "room", their attention to detail, any guarantees offered, testimonials, and on and on.

So my question to you is this: what is the minimum amount of information your organization should provide to potential customers to turn them into actual customers? Once you get a grasp on how much, then you'll be better prepared to address the question of appropriate media.

What I like about website marketing is that websites allow the customer to choose how much information they want. The customer can pick and choose according to their own AQ. This freedom of choice permits your organization to appeal to customers with small AQs (I'm in a hurry here, just give me a quote) and large AQs (I want to know all the details) simultaneously. What's even better about website marketing is that your website may actually increase a customer's AQ. Customers and clients may be indifferent when they first visit your site, but with strong messaging, good eye appeal, and relevant information, your website may draw the visitor in deeper. Visitors may say to themselves, "well here's something I didn't think about" and find themselves spending more and more time listening to what you have to say.

When this happens, then obviously, AQ = SUCCESS.


Guest blogger Dennis Mathis is a long-time resident of the Four Corners who nurtures an interest in writing, marketing, technology, reading and business. About a year ago, he retired from a public relations job and is now formally self-managed. It is a harder job than he imagined it would be. He and his wife, Nancy, live in a log cabin near Lemon Lake decorated with birdhouses, and when the water is calm, they kayak along Lemon's graceful shoreline.