What Captivates You?

Larry Carter - Web Developer


October 2014 – I discovered one of my favorite movies of all time when I was a child, and it changed the way I think about movies forever. The Nightmare Before Christmas was released in 1993 and holds a special place in my heart when I’m looking for nostalgia. I’ve seen the movie countless times, memorized every line, dressed up as characters in the movie for Halloween and purchased dozens of items themed in the spirit of this film. I’m utterly captivated by this movie. And that captivation had an impact that lasted throughout my childhood and into my adult years now. Why?

Particularly, for me, I think the musical score is wonderfully written by Danny Elfman, the use of Claymation was just evolving out of its very crude state, and the theme of the movie was personally interesting to me. But what has stuck in my head for years is the main character (Jack) and his stroll up to the top of the iconic spiral hill with the mesmerizing glow of a giant moon set in the background. To me, the combination of every one of those elements at their particular places and in their particular moments is perfect. Captivating.

Now I believe there is an important difference between two things that I would like to point out. And that is the difference between captivating your audience and simply getting their attention.

Scenario 1: I yell to you, “Hey!”, and then snap my fingers a few times rather close to your face, directly in your line of site. I then proceed to tell you to come to my magic show tonight and shove a pamphlet in your hand. Sound like any particular website advertisements you’ve seen?

Scenario 2: I say “Excuse me”, and then wait for you to turn to face me. I’ve gotten your attention, and then I ask your name. You tell me, and I then perform a simple sleight of hand trick to pull a card out of nowhere that seems to magically appear in my hand. That card has the information to the show that I will be performing later tonight.

No matter how magnificent my magic show is going to be, you probably won’t be thinking about coming after that abrasive introduction in scenario 1. Of course, I’ve gotten your attention, but I’ve also annoyed you fairly easily. Your initial thought of me is negative and you’re therefore resistant to my suggestions. Scenario 2, I asked politely what your name was, gave you a taste of what my show was about with a simple card trick, and captivated you with that trick turning out to be an invitation to my event. Even if you can’t come to that show, perhaps you’ll remember the positive experience you had and will come to a show at another time, or suggest my show to someone who has an interest in magic. You’re not capturing business right here with this person or right now at this moment. You’re creating potential for greater opportunities harvested from a single great experience.

I think the proper term for the barrage of businesses vying for your attention every day is “noise.” Particularly online, there are thousands of businesses creating noise every day with pop-up ads and email promotions. You can get all kinds of attention with loud sounds, distracting visuals and disruptive advertisements, but the final message would be ignored. Instead, captivate your audience with finesse, and combine targeted visuals with a clear direction in the proper setting to make the reception of your final message or call to action that much more positive.

Think about what captivates you. It’s probably what you spend most of your day thinking about. That is something that you experience once and then move on to the next thing, right? Probably not. You probably routinely research it, regularly receive updates on it, actively contribute to the growth and promotion of it, and deliberately tell others about your experience with it. It’s something you deeply entrench yourself into. How much does that mean to you personally? Make the interactions between your business and your customers less about the transaction and more about the experience, and they’ll return again and again to see what magic you’ve got coming up next. And here’s the kicker: next time, they’ll bring their friends.

Questions or comments? Please contact Larry Carter at lcarter@teamCOACT.com