The Unscalable, Unbeatable Power Of Personal Attention
Pitch One: a personalized video, addressed directly to David, with cutouts of people in the background that all have Pogue's face.
Pitch Two: a "love letter" written to David from a Nikon D80. Cute in and of itself, but made all the more special by the fact that it was actually a reply to a love letter written by David himself, to rival camera Canon S95.
Yes, they are clever. Yes, they are persuasive. But what makes them clever and persuasive is something utterly simple, often ignored, and beyond powerful: personal attention.
In a world of robots, spambots, autoreplies, emails with magically pre-populated first-name fields, there is almost nothing more insulting than to say, "I care about you so little that I've delegated management of our relationship to a computer program." Our defenses are up, and what they are up against is automation.
What melts these defenses is attention. We are powerless against someone coming at us with open eyes and open heart, someone saying to us through their words and their actions and their choice of medium: "I see you, I know you exist, I know you are a unique human being who deserves to be heard and acknowledged and attended to, and you are valuable and worthy enough for me to invest my time in this relationship, this personal relationship, that is just between you and me, no matter how much it may play out in the public arena."
Personal attention is so powerful it works even when it's not being used on us. Consider Old Spice Guy's customized video responses. Tweets good enough to merit a personal moment with Isaiah Mustafa? 183. Video views generated by those personal moments? 183... million. We love that he's taking the time to actually listen and craft a heartfelt answer, even if it's someone else he's listening to.
The same phenomena can be seen at rock concerts: the power of attention and the disconnect of automation. At Metallica last year, every time James Hetfield said, "Metallica loves you, Auckland," I heard "Metallica loves you, Insert City Name Here." At the other end of the spectrum was U2: arriving in New Zealand just after a tragedy killed 29 miners, the band paid moving tribute with some heartfelt comments, a dedicated song, and a customized graphics display that included the names of the fallen men. It might not sound like much, but the consensus among those I spoke to was universal: they were genuine. They were present to our national grieving. They had turned their attention to what the nation was feeling and they really cared.
And back to our online arena, one needs to look no further than the king of personal attention, Gary Vaynerchuk. Check out his tweetstream: out of his past 20 tweets, all but three were @ replies. I had the privilege of hearing him speak last year, and he made his point emphatically: "I love people more than anybody else in this room. And, because of that, I will always win."
And what about you, the one sitting at your computer wondering whether to leave a comment or touch base on Twitter? Don't be shy. I am an actual person, sitting at a computer just like yours, and I can't wait to hear from you -- personally.