Attention Startups: Nobody gives a sh*t about your content.

But here’s why you should still continue to create anyway.

 Photo by  Mpumelelo Macu  on  Unsplash

If you are an early stage startup, unless your target customers are grandmas refining their crocheting skills, boy I have some bad news for you.

NOBODY GIVES A CRAP ABOUT YOUR CONTENT ON THE INTERNET. Oh and you are directly competing for your audiences’ attention with Disney.

Yes, the mother of all consumer brands that produces heart-warming content with a 2 billion dollar budget. Disney.

Reddit, Quora, Linkedin and Facebook (which is the world’s 2nd largest visited website) are also your competition.

And you are just a bunch of startup founders living on ramen and free pizza. How are you going to make your content swim in this ocean of competition?

The rise of attention economy

First of all, acknowledge the biggest tectonic shift in the last 10 years. The average consumer of the world has becomes increasingly “busy” and therefore the new scarce resource on the planet is ATTENTION.

The average attention span for the notoriously ill-focused goldfish is 9 seconds, but according to a new study from Microsoft Corp., people now generally lose concentration after 8 seconds, highlighting the affects of an increasingly digitalized lifestyle on the brain.

So, if the reader has to give you his extremely scarce attention, you have to reward him with something amazing in return.

Your content on the internet today is a business transaction.


But there’s a hack to do this without a budget. Approach this from a different perspective.

Forget the marketing spins. Resist the sales jargon. Quit treating your blog content like press releases.

Forget the desire to desperately get attention and aim to make a connection. Aim to make authentic real human connection.

And the surest way to connect with people is through STORYTELLNG. Cater to the most demanding need of the human brain. Stories. As this Fast Company article suggests, human brains are wired to be insanely greedy for stories.


In this powerful post on Medium, Gary Vaynerchuk shares his 2 cents:

For me, I’m only interested in one thing. The thing that binds us all together. No matter who you are or what your profession is — whether you’re an entrepreneur or in sales or a designer or a developer — no matter what you do, your job is to tell a story. — GaryVee

Appear authentic and open all gates

Despite their billion dollar budgets, most B2B brands don’t retain their customer’s trust and attention because it doesn’t seem authentic. It also has to do with how they open they are about sharing their content as well. The executives are caged in this corporate mindset where great content has to be gated. Wrong.

Any interruption to the reader be it a lead form or account registration backfires badly and makes your reader move away.

David Cancel at Drift is a 5x founder of product-driven companies. One of his major messages for the modern startup marketers was:

“Ungate your content.”

Drift is an amazing example of feeding to our human need for stories. Their entire marketing feels authentic and human. It doesn’t stop there. They make their case to stand up for their audience by sharing every marketing email they composed truly championing the spirit of the “ungate movement.”

How can you perfect the art of connection?

Consistency and practice.

Despite the harsh reality that nobody cares about your content, the silver lining is that they will one day start caring if you nail how to connect with them. The only way you can do that is by practicing day in and day out. There’s no shortcut in this path to help you here. You have to figure out which content is clicking with your audience and churn out more of that to make a connection. Great businesses used to require massive budgets to experiment in the entertainment industry but the power of the internet allows you to be a media company without any investment.

Go for it. Aim to make consistent connection with your audience. Shape the conversation around your brand. Be an authentic storyteller.

“The most powerful person in the world is the story teller. The storyteller sets the vision, values and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.” — Steve Jobs

What else? What are your hacks to get attention from your audience? Feel free to share your thoughts.