Fast Five: Q&A with Carlos Hidalgo on Marketing in the Attention Economy

Recently, we curated The Attention Economy – The Impact of Attention Scarcity on Modern Marketing. In this eBook, we asked 12 modern marketers to share their best practices for winning the battle for their buyers’ attention. To broaden the discussion and keep the conversation going, we’re reaching out to other marketing and sales leaders with five quick questions on marketing effectively in the Attention Economy.


1. The Attention Economy was first coined in 2001 by Thomas Davenport and John Beck to describe the scarcity of attention and how to measure it, understand it and use it. Fifteen years later, do marketers understand the true nature of their buyer’s attention today?

I do not believe they do. In a world where there is so much information being thrown at buyers across a myriad of channels, buyers are overwhelmed and marketers are only contributing to this noise by simply ramping up their content and campaign machines and pumping out more and more in hopes of catching the attention of their buyers.

The only way attention will be captured with buyers is by being relevant and, in order to be relevant, you need to know what is important to your buyer.

2. B2B buyers today are busier and more distracted than ever before. What do marketers tend to get wrong in their rush to capture their buyer’s limited attention?

What marketers are getting wrong is the action of just doing more. We create more content, buy more technology, invest in more channels, etc., and the results are less than stellar. Rather than simply doing more, marketers must be smarter about their approach, really study their buyers and, rather than create more stuff to garner attention, create better stuff that is buyer-centric.

3. The Internet and mobile have dramatically changed how buyers consume content. How are marketers adapting their strategies to align with how we research and buy today?

I do not believe that the majority are adapting. What I have seen is, rather than a comprehensive, multi-channel strategy that is aligned around their buyers, organizations are designing strategies around individual tactics – mobile strategies, email strategies, social strategies, etc. 

A solid strategy puts the buyer in the middle and utilizes the various channels that the buyers use to consume content. Simply developing strategies that focus on one channel will do little to gain the attention of the buyer.

4. Marketers have vastly more technology options than ever before. Looking at the marketing tech stack, what’s one solution that stands out in helping marketers sustain buyer attention?

I think when marketing automation is used in the proper manner, it can be a very effective tool for not only capturing the attention of a buyer, but having sustained engagement and dialogue with buyers.

The challenge here is that many marketing departments are using marketing automation in a limited fashion and primarily as an email engine rather than a dialogue engine to engage, nurture and convert their buyers. When the proper approach is taken, marketing automation can be a very effective solution.

5. How do you combat attention scarcity in your own life?

I look to focus on the key items and areas that will truly make the most impact. It is easy to get sidetracked by things that come up or other areas that seem to be important, but the key is to identify those 3-5 items or areas that will make the most difference and anything that comes up that does not align with that will have to wait. 

Carlos Hidalgo is an innovative thought-leader with over 20 years’ experience as a B2B marketing practitioner and industry visionary. The author of Driving Demand: Transforming B2B Marketing to Meet the Needs of the Modern Buyer (Palgrave Macmillan 2015), Carlos is widely recognized for his expertise in strategic integrated marketing, Demand Process, Demand Transformation and marketing automation. As CEO and Principal of ANNUITAS, Carlos drives strategy and leads core practice teams to Transform Demand for enterprise clients globally. Carlos has been named one of the 50 Most Influential People in Sales Lead Management for the last five years and was named as a Who’s Who in BtoB Marketing in 2011 and 2012. Prior to ANNUITAS Carlos was responsible for global SMB marketing at BMC Software and held a similar role at McAfee.