THE BLOG
04/25/2016 12:07 pm ET Updated Apr 24, 2017

Seek Respect, Not Attention. It Lasts Longer

Author Ziad Abdelnour, in his book Economic Warfare, is frequently quoted as saying "Seek respect, not attention. It lasts longer." Written in 2011, before the real explosion of social media into every facet of our day-to-day lives, Abdelnour was still speaking an important truth about what leaders, businesses, and executives need to seek from the market. Not attention, that will fade quickly. Seek respect.
But what does that look like in the modern marketplace?

Careful and precise branding
As an entrepreneur, a key piece of your marketing plan is defining your ideal customer. You may hear marketing experts remind you frequently: if your ideal customer is "everyone," you're wrong, try again. When you're trying to get everyone to notice you, you're basically standing in a crowded train station, jumping up and down, waving your arms, screaming "look at me!"

People aren't going to look, for the most part, and the ones who do look aren't going to be engaged. They're either going to be fearful - what is that person going to do - or seeking entertainment - where's the joke.

To garner respect, you need to precisely target your audience. Instead of screaming from street corners, talk directly to the people who are likely to be interested. Advertise on the websites that target associated interests and build content that shows your ideal customer why your product is relevant for them, specifically.

Keep your focus narrow to garner respect.

Don't badger the customers
Marketing expert Seth Godin frequently writes about the importance of permission marketing - marketing that the consumer has consented to receiving, such as email newsletters, blog posts through email subscription, or social media updates through relevant platforms. This marketing style works because the customer or client is already engaged when they receive your content. They're interested and listening, so you don't need to shout.

Don't try to force customers to give you permission to market to them; that's shouting for attention again. Give them a choice, and respect it. No pop-ups that don't go away until someone gives you their email address. The odds are that they'll click away from your website - and they won't come back.

Deliver quality
Sometimes, you've build up a great head of steam before a product release, and you're in danger of missing your ship date. You could lose the steam you've built, be a month late, and deliver a product that will garner you a respectable product, or you could ship a shoddy, broken product now, but maintain your attention.

Let go of the attention. Ship the product that will create respect.

But don't let delays keep you from shipping at all. Perfection isn't achievable. If your product does what it says it will and does it well, stop making excuses and ship.

Treat customers and client with respect
To get respect, you need to give it. That means making sure all of your customer and client interactions are respectful and professional. But note that's not the same as the customer always being right; it just means that you don't make fun of the customer for being wrong. You politely apologize, explain the misunderstanding, and present whatever solutions are available.

When you're working with a business, assume that all conversations are public. After all, with modern recording technology and social media, they could be. Always conduct yourself professionally and respectfully, to make sure that you get respect in return.

Create quality content
One way to respect your customers and clients is by creating high quality content, once you've gotten their permission to share it with them. What does that mean? No click-baity headlines, no misleading images meant to draw the reader into the article, no manipulative tactics to get them to share it. Be authentic in your content and your strategies. Having a million shares doesn't help you get respect, and all the attention in the world doesn't matter if those customers don't show up tomorrow, as well.

Respect and attention are both parts of building an engaging long-term brand. After all, if you never get any attention, you won't have any business. But if you find yourself facing a choice, and on one side you have endless attention, and on the other limitless respect - know that the respect is likely to last you longer and get you farther than all the attention in the world.