All The World’s A Stage In Marketing

April 9, 2010
By Lisa Barone in Online Marketing

There was a great post recently on Write To Done where guest blogger Tom Walker gave readers 10 Quick Tips For Concise & Compelling Writing. All the standards are there – use short sentences, write in normal English, be conscious of your words, etc. It’s a good post and one that I think marketers will find a lot of value from reading.

Chris Brogan also wrote a really compelling post this week. His post was for the AMEX OPENForum and was about you as an entertainer. It was about how businesses can capture customers through entertainment. This, Chris says, will help you to build a bridge between the kind of people that make up your company, and the kind of people who would want to buy from you.

Both posts are awesome. Both posts are about the very same thing.

To market to anyone you have to grab their attention. And the easiest way to do that, whether on the Web or off of it, is to entertain them. Write to Done talks about doing it with words, Chris Brogan talks about doing it with action.

Before you go working on your stand up, entertaining people doesn’t mean that you have to be the funniest person in the world or even the room. You don’t even have to be the most intriguing. It means that with marketing getting more and more noisy, you need to find a way to keep their interest. You need to give them something that helps form that natural relationship. By entertaining them you set out to create a very different relationship with a customer than the business simply trying to market to them. You end up being their friend. People buy from their friends.

Entertainers tell stories. They tell stories that make them relatable and that make us more interested in who they are.

  • Heather Armstrong entertains her audience with stories about her family.
  • Matt Inman (aka Oatmeal) entertains his audience by taking the every day and twisting it on its head.
  • Naomi Dunford entertains by using words to create magic.
  • The site Cooking For A**holes entertains by offering instruction with a side of let-me-smack-you-in-the-face.
  • The dive bar Dick’s Last Resort entertains by berating customers through their dining experience. [check out the video on the home page]
  • You read this blog because sometimes you find me entertaining. That’s what first got you here.

Every customer touch point is a chance for you to entertain people. Where specifically should you be doing it? Here are some thoughts:

On your Web site: Most businesses use this as a place to pitch, talk about themselves and use buzzwords that no one understands. That’s one way to go. The other would be to use your home page to tell stories and create common experiences with the people you want to market to. Chris talks about this a bit with his example of asking someone about the first car they ever owned. If you can create a bridge with a customer and start the beginnings of that friendship, you’re going to be able to entertain them and hold their interest. You’re also going to have a better chance drawing them into the sale.

In your blog: To be quite honest, most blogs (especially marketing ones) are boring as hell. And to be even more honest, I like that. Because it’s always given me an edge – perhaps the only edge that I have. When you come to Outspoken, whether it’s me, Rhea or Rae blogging, you’re probably going to be entertained while you’re informed. It’s kind of our promise and it’s one of the reasons I think this blog stands out among many of the others. Use your blog to speak directly to your customers, to share even more stories and to use humor when it fits. Humor is subjective so don’t start cracking jokes, but be clever when you can pull it off. Remember, this is your blog. It’s not the Iliad. Lighten up and actually talk with people.

In your company newsletter: Again, most company newsletters are a solid pitch. We’re trained to gloss over them and to look for a word or two that may make us slow down. But most times we don’t slow down. And that’s why newsletters from companies like Yelp and Woot have always stood out. Because they’re personable, they’re fun, they’re entertaining and they give us something more than just a neon sign begging us to buy from them. They hold your interest by being a little quirky. Chris Brogan’s newsletter entertains by inviting you over for a coffee-side chat and talking to readers like they’re long lost friends. It’s not “funny”, but it’s entertaining. It pulls you in.

In your schwag: If you’re schwag isn’t meant to entertain, you’re doing some wrong. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Stop handing out pens and find something that represents your brand in a fun or useful way. A way that will again bridge a common experience. The best schwag I’ve ever received? The business card holder from Adam Audette of Audette Media. I use it every day to hold my outgoing mail and it makes me think of Adam when I do.

During support calls: Newsflash: You don’t HAVE to be a boring ass when you talk to people on the phone. I know we think that we do and we talk to people off a script and panic if it starts to deviate. But try talking to your customers like you maybe like them. Like you maybe have something in common with them. It will be completely unexpected and it may just change the entire dynamic of that call and your relationship.

If you want people to pay attention to what you’re putting out, you have to hold their interest while you’re informing them. And I think that’s something a lot of companies miss the mark on. They pitch. They creep people out. They bore them with words of death. And they lose the chance for a relationship before it even starts.

Both Chris and Tom’s posts were about creating a show that someone is going to tune in and want to watch. If you wouldn’t read your blog or buy from your company, than chances are no one else would either.

How can you be more entertaining? What are the businesses or brands that entertain you on the Web? How are they doing it?


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