Delight first, educate later: What Richard Simmons and good marketing have in common.

betty white with huge wine glass

As anyone who follows my personal Twitter account (@mme_hammond) will know, I’ve spent this past week in Portugal at the MUST Fermenting Ideas conference. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this event!  A diverse blend of presenters coming at the future of wine from all angles: media, marketing, tech, psychology, and production…people who want to talk and debate about the future of the industry, and how we sell to a larger audience.

But, about halfway through day two, I noticed a recurrent assertion that, quite frankly, irked me: “we must educate customers so that they will understand WHY they simply must run out and buy our wines.” And that’s what today’s Must Read is all about.

But first, let’s talk about Richard Simmons.

I’m in the middle of two back to back trips to Europe; I’ve flown on 9 different airlines in the past six weeks and I’ve seen more in-flight safety presentations than you can shake a stick at. What is the purpose of these presentations? The airlines want us to learn what they want to teach us: where the exits are and how to buy Duty-Free Dior. Boring as hell. While the well-dressed flight attendants are pointing, we’re checking our emails one last time and instagramming our awesome lives. Nobody cares about their information, we don’t really want their information, and every airline tells their information in exactly the same way. Except, every once in a while, someone comes along and blows the competition away:

From Richard Simmons to Betty White to Gandalf, AirNZ has created a series of safety videos that keep us watching. Goofball, amusing, engaging, but still safety videos. They hooked us with the quirkiness and kept us watching long enough for Richard Simmons to show us how to stow our gear and Betty White to demo an oxygen mask. The Air NZ marketers were geniuses because they understood one simple fact:

Delight first, educate later.

Now, back to wine. See, here’s the thing: deep down inside, most humans are lazy and prideful. As wine is pretty low in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, there’s no demand to learn more (we can drink nasty Pinot and still clothe our kids). And when someone starts trying to teach us something that we didn’t ask for, it makes a tiny part of our lizard (irrational) brain feel stupid, and we recoil from that.

What people are is unhappy. Statistically, we are as unhappy as we have ever been (well, at least since we started tracking that kind of thing…) The world is hard right now, and we are bombarded with terrible news and events daily. What Air NZ knew, and what we need to embrace, is that our first job must always be to create delight. We make one of the most wonderful products on the planet, one that brings people together to share and celebrate! And yet, we want to help them understand secondary fermentation? If you can instill a moment of joy in someone’s life, you’ve got their attention. And if you can keep their attention by stringing together enough delightful moments, you can share your message, aka your education, with a willing audience.

So I guess that leads to the question, “how do we create delight?”

Alas, there is NO way to do this topic justice in five minutes, but I can tell you where to start: empathy.

When you deeply understand your customers’ needs, feelings, and hopes, you can develop the products, stories, and experiences that create joy and keep them listening.

Portrait of Polly Hammond

Polly Hammond

Polly Hammond is the Founder and CEO of 5forests, which means every buck stops with her. As the public face of 5forests, she splits her time between Barcelona, Auckland, and California, consulting, writing, and speaking about the trends that impact today’s lifestyle businesses.