Have you ever seen an ad that was just so clearly not meant for you? Perhaps you’re a 20-something single male, and an ad for a Cadillac minivan, touting how many kids it could fit, came on the air. Or maybe you’re a vegetarian, health-focused mother and as you read a magazine you saw an ad showing just how much meat there is in Wendy’s burgers, since they ‘don’t cut corners.’
Think back to how you felt after seeing that ad. Think about how you felt about the company being advertised. It’s likely that you didn’t have much of an opinion about them before, or at least didn’t spend much time thinking about them or forming your opinion… we usually don’t.
Chances are after seeing the ad, you felt worse about the company. Maybe if you’d ever been in the market for a luxury car (ok, we’re EAs, bad example, but whatever) you’d consider a sleek Cadillac, but then that ad would automatically come to mind, and you’d think maybe you ought to go for a luxury brand that doesn’t also make a minivan. Perhaps if you were the health-focused, vegetarian mother, and your kids had said they wanted a Wendy’s McFlurry, you would have occasionally acquiesced as a treat. Now though, there’s an increased likelihood of you having a recoil reaction at the sound of Wendy’s, and recommending Dairy Queen instead.
These examples are meant to demonstrate a single point, the awareness of which seems to be all too often lacking in the EA community: People exposed to a pitch, but not interested or compelled by it, are most often subsequently turned off.
As you’d expect, someone who’s turned off is much more difficult to convince than someone who’s never heard of you. They have developed the heuristic of your company/idea = not interested, so they most often don’t take the time/attention to reevaluate it when further exposed.
For this reason, well-strategized new ventures, products, pitches, ideas and more follow the game plan of avoiding too significant of attention until they’ve put significant, well-strategized effort behind maximizing their conversion rate.
Conversion rate is simple. It is the number of people who take your desired action divided by the total number of people exposed to your message.
The highly simplified, informed approach to growing a company, spreading an idea, or whatever is:
1. Gather and keep gathering enough attention so that you have meaningful sample sizes.
2. Test your idea/product/message, measure the results. Make a change to try to improve, measure if it works, repeat. Go through tons of these iterations. Continue until anything major you think of doesn’t seem to affect your conversion rate in a highly significant positive way.
3. Then, and only then, get mass attention. Throw fuel on that fire. Run the conversion machine to spit out people taking the actions you want! (Note: You’ve exhausted all the big changes you can think of, within reason, but you continue to do step 2 with less major differences).
I claim, that unfortunately, EA has done little to maximize conversion rates, and much to grab attention. We went to step 3 without nearly enough time on step 2.
Think about the enormous amount of press, YouTube views, book sales, etc. that we’ve had. Then think about the low numbers of those who have taken the Giving What We Can Pledge, joined the Facebook group, donated to a top charity, or applied to attend EA Global.
Think of all the VIPs whom we’ve emailed, who have read our books, attended meetings with us, been to our events, or who are within our personal networks that aren’t donating their fortune, or in most instances even one cent. Think of all of the friends within our networks, and think about how often we fail to grab their attention. Think of the ridiculous high level of conformity within the core of the movement, and our continued failure to attract those who would truly represent diversity.
Every exposure that isn’t a win is indeed a loss.
I believe EA organizations and individuals should immediately & drastically stop being so attention seeking, realize the danger of what we’re doing, and focus much more on being experimental, measuring our results, and optimizing for conversion in every single form of outreach that we do. Only once we’re measuring and unable to improve on our conversion rates should we go back to our awareness-building, attention-seeking strategies.