Business, PR/Marketing
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Have you ever wondered why people deliberately seek attention?

I love observing how people stir drama, create controversies and seek attention. So today I want to write a little bit about the marginal propensity to good attention (MPGA), a term which I invented. 

LOL let me explain. In economics, there is a term known as the “marginal propensity to consume (MPC). Formally:

The marginal propensity to consume (MPC) is the proportion of an aggregate raise in pay that a consumer spends on the consumption of goods and services, as opposed to saving it.

E.g. If consumption increases by 80 cents for each additional dollar of income, then MPC is equal to 0.8 / 1 = 0.8.”

So I thought, maybe there is such a thing as the marginal propensity to good attention (MPGA) too. MPGA is defined as:

the proportion of an aggregate increase in attention that is good attention, as opposed to bad attention.

E.g. If good attention increases due to a controversy by 20 cents for each additional dollar of income, then MPGA is equal to 0.2 / 1 = 0.2.”

Let’s keep the assumption that marginal attention is linear, for the sake of simplicity.

The whole idea of MPGA stems from the fact that great brands will polarise.

If I have a really strong brand, some people will hate it to the core, and the others will passionately love it. This is as opposed to weak and lukewarm brands which aims to serve everybody, but ends up serving nobody.

From a business standpoint, strong brands can always afford to ignore haters because haters will never buy their brands. whereas their crazy fans will always pay crazy loads to buy their brands. In other words, up-selling and cross-selling will work on these crazy fans.

So given that rational people think at the margin, all rational marketers will strive to achieve a high MPGA, through image and reputation management. Logically, a high MPGA (>0.5) is good for the brand. Because in spite of any possible controversy, there would be more conversion per unit of additional attention to good attention instead of bad. So brands rationally can work towards achieving a high MPGA.

In the short run, all sorts of attention is good as long as MPGA >0. Because this beats indifference and people start to pay attention to your brand.

For–with every additional unit of attention you get, you’d get some form of good attention, even if you get more bad ones out of the additional unit.

However, this is short-term. In the medium to longer-term, the strategy rationally is to increase MPGA by as much as possible.

Such that in cases of unexpected shocks, more members of the public will be for instead of against your brand.

A prolonged period of low MPGA will result in smart people in the masses (very few, but some) pointing out that the attention-seeking/ shit-stirring is intentional and senseless, thereby spoiling all sort of goodwill or positive image done by the controversy stirrer.

Unless you are in the entertainment industry selling “entertainment” as a product, this is bad news.

So my question to you today is–

Why would people deliberately stir controversy or seek attention?

They do it for only two reasons:

  • Reason One: There is a definite call to action (CTA) that accompanies the attention, which is usually money or a CTA that can be measured in monetary terms;
  • Reason Two: If there is no underlying money involved, controversy is stirred due to ego, pride, or something related to personal highly subjective values and “what should be”.

Related to reason one, the smartest and richest business people are actually determined to stay the hell out of the limelight, because they do not want to draw attention or scrutiny to themselves or their private lives.

It is also strategic for entrepreneurs to simply say things that they need to–nothing more, nothing less–because if they reveal too much your stalkers/ competitors will know what you are up to. For example, in recent years startups do not even want to reveal the amount of funding they get in each rounds of investments, because a disclosure of the sum will inform their intended actions.

Therefore, a businessman only seeks attention when it clearly advances the purposes of his business, not his ego. 

This pattern is verifiable and easily observed. Just read the content that accompanies the attention: Does it draw attention to the founder, or does it draw attention to his organisational cause or business?

The second reason is infinitely scarier because you’re dealing with something emotional. Hopefully that “emotion” is not something dark.

If it is, avoid such drama if you can. In fact, in business, be as impersonal as possible. 😉

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