The Attention Economy: How to Turn Your Audience into Passionate Subscribers

There is a big difference between organizations or companies who use marketing to sell something, and those who use marketing to create passionate subscribers to their brand. One way to accomplish this is through content marketing – a marketing technique that informs, engages, and/or entertains your audience with the goal of ultimately driving constituent action.

But before you can chart a content marketing strategy to create passionate subscribers to your brand, you may need an attitude shift about marketing in general. We’re not working in a broadcast, hub and spokes model anymore (but you knew that, right?). We are all so inundated with marketing messages that we develop great instincts and even technical filters to avoid as much as we can.

To create a successful content marketing strategy, there are three important shifts in mindset that we must understand:


  1. We are working in an attention economy. To break through and get your audience’s attention, you need to provide value. One great example: the Monterey Bay Aquarium developed Seafood Watch (a website, wallet sized reference materials, and an app) to help people who care about oceans to make informed decisions. By providing me with value, I come back to their brand over and over again, and build appreciation, respect, trust and allegiance. I am more likely to recommend their organization and to donate because they’ve provided me with great tools that give me a concrete way to get involved before introducing me to their brand.
  2. We are working in a networked landscape. As a brand, your marketing goals are to first build an audience, and then to activate that audience (to attend, volunteer, advocate, donate, etc.). Building an audience today depends on the active voices of your current passionate subscribers who share your brand with their own networks through social media. While you may feel you lose some control of the message, what you gain is the trust and authenticity that comes with their relationships with members of their network – and in an attention economy that’s priceless. You need not look any farther than the recent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to see the potential of using personal networks to build an audience and activate them. Another fantastic example is the Human Rights Campaign red logo that took over many Facebook profile pictures in support of marriage equality in 2013.
  3. People care about themselves (and causes that are important to them), more than they care about your organization. This description of humanity as selfish isn't meant to be derogatory, merely descriptive. Individuals (especially GenX and Millennials) are more loyal to a cause than an organization. By investing in creating passion and action around a cause, an organization’s content marketing deepens their audience’s engagement with (and commitment to) the cause. And by attaching their brand to the cause, they are developing an audience of passionate subscribers.


How do you provide value, gain attention, and develop passionate subscribers? Got a story about your content marketing efforts? Share it with us in the comments!

Author: Lisa Colton
  • Audience
  • Email
  • Nonprofits
Jan 19
by Michael Hoffman
Jan 5
by Michael Hoffman