I thought Mr. Gladstone was the cleverest man in England. But when I sat next to Mr. Disraeli I thought I was the cleverest woman. – Jennie Jerome
Thanks to Dos Equis, everyone’s heard of the most interesting man in the world. What makes the ad campaign so funny is the way it spoofs our desire to connect with people and ideas that explore life to the fullest. Just the other day, I was updating this website and noticed that one of the things I promise to do for my clients is to create materials that “inform, enlighten, and even fascinate your customers.”
How does that happen? How can you deliver relevant business and technical information to your customers in a way that arouses genuine curiosity and engagement? Can marketing collateral such as white papers, articles, and newsletters ever be truly interesting?
You bet it can! Neuroscience is changing the way we understand mental and emotional states like fascination. In her book How The World Sees You, former ad executive Sally Hogshead has written in-depth about the science behind fascination and how to harness it in business. She describes fascination as a state of focus or engagement so intense we momentarily put other thoughts and emotions out of our minds.
Hogshead’s book focuses on how we as individuals can focus our emotions to be more effective with others and grow as communicators and leaders. When you craft your message based on powerful human qualities such as power, trust, or mystique, you will engage with people both intellectually and emotionally. In other words, people will find your message interesting—maybe even fascinating!
But what about your product or service? It’s like this: your customers are already interested—just not in you! When crafting your outreach, you naturally want to tell the world about your hard-earned innovations and breakthroughs. But the truth is that the customers and prospects don’t really care how amazing you are.
Instead, they’re deeply involved with the problems they need to solve. This is what they do for a living. In the professional sense, nothing is more interesting to them than the issues that hit them where they live. Like the dashing Jennie Jerome in the quotation above (she went on to become the mother of Winston Churchill), they want to hear about how your product or service can help them be even more fabulous than they already are.
Addressing your customers in their world makes you relevant. Telling the stories of people like them makes them feel engaged. Exploring ideas that address their business challenges? That’s when you’ve contributed something thought-provoking and meaningful. Can you help them solve the problem? Now you’re no longer the cleverest person in the room. They are.
Try the “one big idea” approach. Each piece—from a 40-page white paper to a single-page brochure, needs one big idea or takeaway for your readers. Hone in on a specific challenge your customers face, such as:
Can your piece help them understand a key challenge and make sense of it in a new way? Then congratulations—you now understand what it means to be fascinating—and develop marketing pieces that will inspire your customers and prospects to read, remember, and take action.
Now here’s your fun fact: Witty, urbane Benjamin Disraeli and fiery William Gladstone were two extraordinarily able British prime ministers. Their decades-long rivalry helped define the Victorian age. One biography of the two statesman calls them “The Lion and the Unicorn.” Enemies on the political scene, they are now remembered for their great battles that transformed a nation. What do you think? Are you a lion or a unicorn?
It’s been too long since I blogged! A warm thanks to all my most recent clients, including Allied Consulting and the Texas Highway Department Centennial project.