Using Persuasion to Break Through in the Attention Economy

Advocating for liberty can feel like we’re swimming against the tide. We operate in an attention economy and attention is a scarce resource. Every brand, entertainer, politician and individual is competing for the attention of an audience. We need to earn every second of attention we can get. That’s why it’s key to understand how neuroscience, empathy and sociology work together to create effective messaging that we can bring to each other at events – but also to the wider world.

That maximization is what I do. As CEO of Iron Light, I lead a change agency with advocacy at its core. Iron Light teams up with public, private, and nonprofit organizations to create a world without limitations on human potential and empower purpose-driven brands to change the world. The secret to Iron Light’s success is creating content rooted in neuroscience, design rooted in empathy and advertising rooted in sociology.

At Iron Light, we use a 9-step process to deliver value to large-scale active user communities, shape narratives and win:

  • Goal Setting. Begin with the end in mind and define the journey you want your audience to take with you. Before beginning your journey, commit objectives and key results to paper.
  • Audience Analysis + Segmentation. Once you’ve determined your objectives and key results, you’re ready to begin defining and understanding your audience. What are the challenges facing your audience? What are their needs and desires? How and where do you anticipate them engaging with you? Once voters are modeled and segmented, you can begin formulating a content and distribution strategy including mapping to digital audiences on platforms such as Facebook, Google, etc.
  • Content Strategy. Content is one of the most critical, if not the most critical, step in building and persuading audiences. Our approach to content strategy is based around neuropsychologist David Rock’s SCARF model, which we deploy to draw attention to our message and compete in culture across party lines. The model is an acronym for what triggers an approach or avoid response (fight or flight) in individuals – status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness, and fairness – and is independent of party affiliation.
  • Content Distribution. Brands create value and attention when the right message is delivered in the right format on the right platform at the right time to the right audience. It isn’t just about the channel. You must also consider the four realms of an experience, which include entertainment, education, esthetic, and escapism.
  • Capture Audience. Building an active user base becomes easier if you deliver value and provide a clear path for audiences to join you on your journey.
  • Enhance Audience Records. Enhancing records and segmenting audiences aids in the process of persuading and activating users and ultimately delivering value. By enhancing records with third-party data such as voter records, you can deliver a highly customized experience to your audience.
  • Educate + Persuade. Once someone has opted in to your community and become an active user, you have earned the opportunity to educate and persuade them by delivering value through compelling content.
  • Activate + Mobilize. The final step in the persuasion process is activation and mobilization. This is when the hard work pays off and you’re able to drive narratives, influence lawmakers, win elections, and change laws.
  • Achieve Goal. The final step in the persuasion process is activation and mobilization. This is when the hard work pays off and you’re able to drive narratives, influence lawmakers, win elections, and change laws.

We win in the attention economy by delivering value consistently over time. Delivering value retains attention, builds relationships, and ultimately compels action. The tenets of liberty are, quite simply, good ideas that deliver just that. We can take what we learned at FreedomFest and share that knowledge in our communities and networks to effect real change.

This year, I’ll be part of the event’s closing panel “The Rising Tide of Liberty: Lessons Learned from Another FreedomFest.” I’ll be sharing the stage with Zilvinas Silenas, Jennifer Grossman and moderator Mark Skousen to talk about the key things we need to remember from the FreedomFest experience and how to maximize their fight for freedom until we meet again in the summer of 2023. I’ll also be joining the panel “Tips for the Documentarian” in the Anthem Film room at 1:10 on Friday. And don’t miss our film “The Hong Konger: Jimmy Lai’s Extraordinary Struggle for Freedom” on Thursday at 1:30.

Ryan Green is co-founder and CEO of Iron Light.