Time is today's scarcest resource. Everyone is suffering from attention overload—from too many to-dos to overflowing inboxes to constant technology distractions.

As a result, many marketers have resorted to just getting louder (literally and figuratively). But no one wins the attention arms race.

Rather than pushing (and annoying) customers, one must harness the ebbs and flows of customers' time and attention, and work with those forces rather than fight against them.

One way to break through the cacophony is via triggers that redirect customer behavior. There are eight such triggers, or 8Ps, that frequently result in a sale if matched with an appropriate call to action.

1. Prairie-Dog Events

Prairie dogs are animals best known for popping their heads out of their burrows and looking around. Similarly, when certain events occur, customers are triggered to look around at competitive alternatives.

Examples range from major disruptions, such as losing your Internet connection for a few days, to minor issues, such as a rude customer-service agent who prompts a desire for a new service. A change in structure, such as a new management regime, regulations, or a life event can also prompt customers to seek alternatives.

Focusing marketing efforts around such events will yield higher product or service adoption, because customers would be willing to devote attention to alternative offerings. Timing is key.

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image of Adrian Ott
Adrian Carol Ott is CEO of Exponential Edge Inc. (www.exponentialedge.com) and the author of The 24-Hour Customer: New Rules for Winning in a Time-Starved, Always-Connected Economy (HarperBusiness, August 2010). Reach her via Twitter: www.twitter.com/@ExponentialEdge and adrian.ott@exponentialedge.com.