If you're any kind of Anglophile, you've probably seen or heard of a popular BBC quiz show called QI, which is short for "Quite Interesting." The moderator (formerly Stephen Fry, currently Sandi Toksvig) poses questions loosely related to a topic of the week, and a four-person panel tries to come up with answers that win points. The panelist with the highest score at the end of the show wins. All very simple and straightforward, right?
Well, not quite. One of the most, ahem, interesting things about this freewheeling quiz panel show is its eccentric, almost arbitrary scoring system. As you might expect, panelists win points for providing a correct answer to a given question -- but they get even more points for an interesting answer. (If your answer is both correct and interesting, you can really clean up.) They get points taken away for an answer that's not only wrong but actually dull and predictable in its wrongness. Why? Because amusing, captivating responses are generally more entertaining than mere facts.
Many businesses fail to take this "sparkle factor" into account when promoting their products or services to their target audience. In my own experience as a marketing content writer, I've noticed that businesses in more the more technical industry verticals are especially vulnerable to falling into this trap. They feel an obligation to present the most accurate, precise, detailed data possible as a means of demonstrating exactly why they're better than their competitors.
Unfortunately, clubbing your buyers over the head with facts doesn't necessarily have anything to do with sparking their interest. Fact sheets tend to make poor marketing documents because successful marketing touches its audience on an emotional level. Outrage, delight, confidence, anxiety, relief -- these and other feelings move people to take action in a way that sheer logic cannot. The targeting of emotion doesn't just spur action; it also enhances memory. Research indicates that people find it easier to remember things that trigger emotional responses.
Successful marketing also means find an unusual hook or arresting entry into the material it presents. I'm not suggesting that you attend sales meetings wearing a rubber nose or program your website to run circus music and cartoons every time someone goes to it. But whatever information you present in your marketing content needs to grab the reader or viewer on some emotional level or other, and presenting it from a clever or unusual angle is one way to accomplish that.
Amuse, astonish or jolt your audience, and you've got your foot in the door. Once your audience is engaged, you can begin throwing those serious facts out there with some certainty that they'll get a friendly welcome. It's still important to be accurate -- but in the world of marketing, it's even more critical to be interesting.
Now go out there and score some points with your audience. If you need some help, you know who to call!