It may not be one of the first things you would think of, but one of the core skills we all now have to have in our daily working lives is the ability to be able to create good, engaging and effective content. Your job title will probably say something completely different, but think about it, how do you tell anyone, either in your own company or outside, what it is you are doing? By writing. By typing an email, writing a report, producing a presentation, sending a tweet, posting a picture on Instagram, sharing your latest news on Facebook. But do we ever stop and analyse whether we are any good at it? How engaging or effective is the content we produce both as individuals and as a business. Award winning communicator and broadcaster, Joe Fattorini, shares some of his tricks.
Even if you are not tasked with creating good content for your business we can all learn how to communicate more effectively. Joe Fattorini explains why.
Do people in the wine trade have any business producing online content? Colin Millward was a blunt, Yorkshire, adman who revolutionised advertising in the 1960’s. Remember those Air on a G String commercials for Hamlet? That’s him. There’s a story of an account man who told him Harvey’s didn’t like the agency’s latest ads. “Well lad,” he replied, “off you go back to Bristol and tell them we do the ads. They do the Sherry.”
Today, ads are joined by Twitter, Instagram, blogs and online publishing. But should winemakers, merchants and marketers create the content? Or should we leave it to professionals like Colin’s ad men? Or even “content marketing gurus”? Some smelling suspiciously of snake oil.
The answer is that you can create great, engaging content. But it isn’t easy. You can’t simply arm a convenient millennial with your Twitter and Instagram passwords and hope for the best. (Even if many businesses do just that.)
“People read what interests them. Sometimes it’s an ad.” This is the famous dictum of legendary San Francisco adman, Howard Luck Gossage. His 60’s campaigns for Paul Masson are still some of the best pieces of “content” ever made for a wine business. Gossage understood nobody had to read his ads. Or your content. He had to make it compelling. And you do too. Not only does your content have to be better than the ads and brand content around it. It has to be better than all the editorial too. Only then will people read it.
It’s about your audience…not you
So what does interest people? The answer is: themselves. For instance, how could I promote an upcoming panel discussion on engaging copy at the London Wine Fair? I could use the old PR standby “I am delighted to announce an exciting line up…”. But you turned off at the word “announce”. This content is about me. Why should you care what delights me? And why would you trust me that this news is “exciting”.
Instead, how about “Discover the secrets to creating brilliant content and engagement that SELLS in just one hour at The London Wine Fair”? This session (on Tuesday morning in the Innovation Zone, as it happens) is no longer about me. It’s become about you.
You create better, more engaging content when you find out what motivates your audience. Even if they don’t always know what motivates them. And then wrapping it in structures that grab their attention. Are people really interested in how much you love the hydrolysed tannins from the new addition to your portfolio that truly express the 7th generation winemaker’s close relationship with his terroir?Or would you be better guaranteeing your readers that this silky wine is perfect to share with friends? Or even better asking your readers what’s the perfect wine for a summer party? And telling them the answer is this silky, reliable gem.
Some of the secrets to great content are big things. Like understanding the motivation of your audience. Or the ruthless pursuit of benefits over features. Others are smaller. The magic power of the word “you”. The poisonous repulsion of the word “me”. And some seem counterintuitive. To sell more effectively use short words, in short sentences. But in long copy. In tests it always sells more.
But perhaps one secret is more powerful than all the others: nobody wants to read your shit. This is the title of a book by Steven Pressfield. He says it’s the most important lesson he ever learned. His antidote? “Streamline your message” and “make its expression fun. Or sexy or interesting or scary or informative”. But whatever you do, remember nobody wants to read it. You’ve got to make them. That happens by making it so compelling they’d be mad not to.
Do this, and you’ll be on the road to better, more engaging copy.
- You can hear Joe talk about how to create effective content for your business during a special panel debate as part of the Innovation Zone at the London Wine Fair. It takes place at 11.45am on Tuesday May 22 and will also feature Helena Nicklin, head of content at Winerist, Natalie Th’ng, customer director, Majestic Wines, and Adrian Smith, wine and spirits columnist for The Independent, global brand ambassador for Vivino.
- Joe Fattorini is presenter of The Wine Show and brand consultant to Matthew Clark and Bibendum. He also works with ad agencies creating better content for wine brands. He was the IWSC Communicator of the Year in 2017.