The quandary of selling to an ADD culture

“We can make your email better.”

No, really.

I can just picture the reader rolling her eyes as she immediately hits delete. It is incredibly hard to write an email intended to sell a product and not have it read like spam (of course maybe an email selling something is, by definition spam, but I’d like to think not).

What if you could make people’s work easier, but you needed five minutes of their time to do it? The answer, it seems, is that you lose. Logitech did a study that found that users typically have six applications open on their computer at any given time, and generally will only stick in one window for 50 seconds. Not that this should be surprising to any of us. As I write this I have more than the average number of applications open and I’m beginning to think my four-year-old nephew has a better attention span than I as I flit between them. Actually, I’m lucky if you’re even still reading this.

Here’s the rub. My job this summer was to try and sell Email Center Pro, which is (not that I’m biased) a great product. Seriously, it solves a lot of small business email woes (again I picture the rolling of the eyes). The problem is I couldn’t explain it well to anyone in less than fifty seconds. Does that make the product unsellable? Can we only sell products that fit our short attention span culture? I’d like to think not, but it certainly gave me lots of trouble. Hard enough trying to sell a product by catchphrase, but this one doesn’t reduce well to a simple slogan.

Are there other products out there that could solve some of our problems, and we just can’t be bothered to take the five minutes to hear about them?

If you know of any, please don’t hesitate to share. But only if I can read about them in fifty seconds.

Megan Berry
Palo Alto Software Intern

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3 Comments on this post »

show or hide Comment by John Welch on 2008-09-16 11:19:58

You asked if here other products out there that could solve some of our problems. The ShamWow comes to mind, as long as the problem involves liquids. Here is a pitchman that get the point across in less than 60 seconds and I bet he could do it in 49 seconds on a dare.


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show or hide Comment by Chad on 2008-09-20 20:47:39

So Megan, what was the winning formula? Or is that classified as a trade secret? ;)

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show or hide Comment by Akpo "AJ" Igherighe on 2008-12-10 13:55:43

Haha! I’ve got a similar problem.

My new company, Office Assistant, is for entrepreneurs, like myself, who suffer from ADD. I call it Office ADD.


Doing random stuff (like posting this blog right now instead of later) instead of the critical parts of our businesses with the greatest return per hour spent. Office Assistant designs, builds and manages non-essential parts of their business so they can focus.

The problem is it’s a new or at least unusual concept. We’re kind of like an outsourcer, management consultant, project manager and IT firm all rolled up into one. When I explain it to some people they just get it, but many look at me like several nerve impulses have malfunctioned all at once. So, I usually resort to the dreaded mathematical calculation.

If an entrepreneur gets 30 calls a day, taking about 15 minutes each, only 20% of them are important, and takes a 2 week vacation each year, then he or she wastes 90,000 minutes (1,500 hours) on unnecessary calls. Yes, I know I’m a nerd. Blame it on my McKinsey training. But, this usually works on fellow nerds.

I hope this helps. By the way, I’ll be setting up a blog soon called offering simple solutions to all sorts of entrepreneur ADD issues, since I think we have it worse than most. Give me until January 1 then drop by and give me a hard time.

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