Beware of being a blind organization

I got the chance to spend some time with my daughter yesterday, who is a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill.  She was telling me about her psychology class, and one of the things that really interested her was a concept called  inattentional blindness.  At this moment, the student became the teacher, and I learned something from my daughter.

To demonstrate the concept of inattentional blindness, respondents are shown a 75-second video of people passing a basketball back and forth.  They are asked to keep track of how many times the ball is passed and caught.  In the middle of the video, someone walks across the screen wearing a gorilla costume.  The gorilla is in view for a full 5 seconds.  Less than half of all participants report seeing the gorilla at the end of the exercise.

The implication of this is that we perceive and remember only those objects and details that receive our focused attention.  In other words, we do not notice anything happening in our surroundings while being absorbed in the inspection of something else.

How many organizations do you know that are inattentionally blind?  Step back and you’ll see plenty of organizations that are so focused on cost cutting, technological advances or some other aspect of their business that they fail to see what their customers really wants.

Ironically, today’s consumers are also inattentionally blind.  We are all so focused on making ends meet and getting through the recession that we do not see the gorillas around us.  That’s the challenge that all marketers face today – getting the target audience to notice their gorilla.

From now on, whenever a prospective client asks what we can do for them, I’m going to tell them that we’ll find the gorillas in their midst.

And from now on, I’m going to ask my daughter about her classes far more often – because she helped me see a gorilla that I’ve been missing all along.

~ by chuckmattina on October 4, 2009.

2 Responses to “Beware of being a blind organization”

  1. I love this blog! There has to be something said for not seeing a GORILLA in the room. I would agree that companies and consumers are overloaded with information and it definitely makes you step back and think about how much the mind can possibly encode. This is a good reminder and example of the importance of making your brand meaningful to grab the attention of your audience.

    • I agree – it’s scary, yet so easy to understand. Great reminder to take a giant step back and make sure you’re not missing something that could really make or break your success!

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