If you want to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh or they’ll kill you.
— George Bernard Shaw
The nature of wit is such that its bite must be like that of a sheep rather than a dog
If you’re in the B2B solutions business, then you should be in the publishing business. And that puts you in the infotainment business.
That’s especially true if your product or service forces your clients to evolve.
It doesn’t matter too much how you label the thing you do.
What matters is if it makes them change their processes, staff composition/roles, business philosophy, or business model. A marketing firm can effect this change. So can an add-on to a CRM software. Or business process consulting, or sales training. Or a consultative web design process.
Delivered differently, though, these same solutions merely optimize how a business operates – rather than transform form.
But now is the time to buy and sell things that transform how you engage with their world. And to keep trying until something sticks.
Like us, Boccaccio’s life was turned upside down by a global pandemic; his society’s response to it was even more incompetent than Donald Trump’s. So what did he write about in the Decameron? Ten people escaping the black plague by going into lockdown in the medieval Italian countryside. And? Telling each other every story they could think of. There’s a takeaway to the Decameron beyond, “neat stories”. It’s that when a cohort of people share their best stories, everyone gets a little wiser about what makes others tick.
Speaking of the Middle Ages and wisdom, do you remember learning about the court jester? We’re like the modern-day court jester – we are to provide the truth in a non-tiresome way. With pleasant user experience, you might say. The court jester told his liege the insulting, embarrassing truth. Couched in laughs and good feelings, as George Bernard Shaw later advised.
If you ever saw a Midsummer Night’s Dream, you’ll remember Bottom, a man with, unbeknownst to him, the head of a donkey, at least for a short time. His frightened friends wouldn’t let him approach them, so he gave chase and hurled accusations: “this is to make an ass of me”. But he was also entertaining on purpose too. And meanwhile, later in the play, Bottom also offered strategic advice for the battlefield.
How do you infotain?
I wouldn’t think of this as making someone laugh or even as entertaining them; that’s putting too much pressure on you, especially if that’s not your style.
But there is something related to your work that amuses both you and them; often it’s the old way of doing things, like conference calls without video, floppy disks, or old enterprise software.
At the last employer I worked, for 12 years ago, 2,000+ fellow employees spent Friday afternoons squinting their eyes and cursing as they typed numbers into tiny little boxes on a webpage. And if you reloaded the page or your Internet connection dropped, you started over.
This was called, “hourly billing”. A workplace tragicomedy.
By the way, you’re not stilling by the hour, are you?
To infotain is to mock, gently, the things your audience shouldn’t be doing.