In the Unlikely Event of a Water Landing...
...my entire flight of Chicago-bound passengers would have been entirely prepared, seat-cushion flotation devices and all. Why? Because they were actually listening to the flight attendant's familiar spiel. Sure, we've all heard it a million times before, but how is it that you get an audience to actively pay attention to very dry, albeit life-saving, content? Whether it's a cross-country flight or a struggling website, this info could save you!
I would assume that most flight attendants are quite aware of the fact that most well-traveled Americans can probably recite this obligatory airline script verbatim. In fact, I'm sure it's quite obvious that most passengers' attention is anywhere but the flight attendant during those first few pre-flight minutes of "oxygen mask" and "tray table" talk. That's why the good folks at Southwest Airlines provided an excellent demonstration of why it pays to provide entertaining content, whether it's preflight or website.
Seconds into the safety speech, my attention was piqued by a humorous twist to a familiar verse of the flight attendant script: "...oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling; if you are traveling with a child, or just someone that acts like a child, put your own mask on first, and then the child's." I had no idea there was entertainment on this short flight! With each successive joke one could tell that the flight attendant was able to secure the attention of more and more of the passengers by the increasing laughter that echoed throughout the cabin. People were actually paying attention to the same content they've heard flight after flight! They hung on her every word, waiting for the next cutting remark or witty jab.
Similarly, websites often suffer the same fate as the flight attendants--no one pays attention to what they have to say. But our good friends at Southwest have shown us that providing entertaining, often humorous, content can turn an indifferent audience into an attentive one. Whether you want to sell lampshades, expound on the importance of shoehorns, or blog about your emu farm, entertaining content will keep the visitors coming. And the best part is, truly entertaining content is viral--it just keeps on spreading and picks up momentum. When passengers would hear other passengers laughing at the flight attendant's wisecracks, they would instantly tune in to her comedy routine to see what she was going to say next. Likewise, once it's known that a site has really great, entertaining content, the visitors do much of the work of spreading the word. Friends email the website to coworkers who email it to their families and the viral marketing effect takes over.
I don't fly too often, but from what I've heard, Southwest Airlines has earned somewhat of a reputation for their humorous and edgy approach to the "Airline Safety" speech--and what a great reputation to have! So sit down at your computer, put your seat back in its full, upright position, take some time to write some entertaining content and watch your website soar around the globe.