It’s one of life’s little pleasures.
Every Saturday morning, I wake up to the sound of a bumper edition of The Times being shoved through my letterbox.
I skim through the headlines and read the opinion pages…..
And then I skip to the bit I really relish.
The restaurant review.
Now, anyone who knows me would think that’s a really strange statement. I have particular dietary requirements which make the chances of me actually visiting any of the restaurants mentioned less than zero.
But here’s the thing.
I really enjoy restaurant critic Giles Coren’s writing.
Each review is a little work of art. Often, the restaurant itself takes up just a small portion of the piece. For 1,000 of his 1,500 words, he’s defending his right to slam a restaurant… Complaining how difficult it is to write a review of a delicious meal the next morning, on an empty stomach…. Confessing how wonderful it is to be able to impress friends with a free meal.
And it’s all done with such wit and (wicked) humour that I actually read to the end, including the bits about the restaurants I’m never going to frequent.
There’s a lesson in here for anyone promoting their company online, and specifically on email.
We are all bombarded with dozens if not hundreds of emails each day. It is really difficult to keep someone’s attention for more than a second or two unless you have something incredible to say.
And yet, when we are communicating in our company’s name, the temptation is to play it straight. All too often, businesses send out dry updates about their latest appointments and contracts they’ve won.
Other businesses understand that they need to help and educate their audiences over email, but again, they keep their advice earnest and “businesslike”. They get straight to the point and don’t write in a gripping way.
The problem is that good advice is everywhere online.
To really stand out, you need to entertain your audience as well.
This doesn’t mean that you need to become a stand-up comedian or to write anything silly or frivolous. It does mean – first and foremost – that you need to use great stories to bring your serious points to life. People relate to stories far more than to facts and figures, and they especially love hearing personal tidbits, disasters-made-good, and inspirational experiences.
Think about the way you speak to your friends. You’d bore them silly if you started lecturing them about the best way to save on taxes, keep their skin looking youthful or whatever your business is about. But tell them about a client who didn’t sign a proper contract with their supplier, and got sued, almost losing their entire business? Or a patient who had the best skin you’d ever seen, and finally agreed to let you in on her secret….?
I bet you’d hold their attention for a whole lot longer.
Try, too, to write with a light touch, without taking yourself too seriously…. And when you have something provocative to say, express it.
If people know that your emails will be an enjoyable, good read, they’ll always be opened and consumed.
And if you want to cut through the noise online….
To build up a real fan base….
And to get your audience to read your offers….
That’s a prerequisite.