Ever watch a cat chase a laser pointer? This isn’t a YouTube trend—it’s something we’ve done for years. And before trying lasers and balls of yarn, people found other things to make cats jump, dodge, and dart.

Most people are similar to cats. If you find the right “shiny” object, you can make them go this way or that way. You can distract them from what’s going on behind them, or even right in front of them.

Magicians have done this for years. “There’s nothing up my sleeve,” he says. While you’re looking at his sleeve, he pulls a rabbit from behind your ear. (Fox and CNN are masters of this communication strategy.)

Marketing is the same. By distracting you with my shiny object, I can get you to respond in a certain way. “Click this box! Visit this website! Buy my product! Read my blog! Share this post! Tell your friends!”

If you can find people’s shiny objects, they’re at your bidding. At least for a little while.