June 28, 2018
Updated: January 7, 2020

Take it from Jeff Bezos: Why Engaging Content Matters

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is the wealthiest man on earth. So, needless to say, when he talks about best practices in his business, people listen.

In fact, Bezos made headlines when he told shareholders in his annual letter something not likely heard in other C-suites across the world: “We don’t do PowerPoint (or any other slide-oriented) presentations at Amazon.”

Instead, Bezos endorsed what he calls “narratively structured six-page memos.” He told his readership that his strategy sessions resemble a school “study hall” in which his executives take about 20 minutes to read the memos in silence. Because the memos are of such strong quality — “some have the clarity of angels singing,” he notes — they “set up the meeting for high-quality discussion” afterward.

Walking away from the combination of graphics, condensed copy, and bullet points is important because they are ultimately tailored for short attention spans. Companies have traditionally relied heavily Microsoft’s PowerPoint because of how effectively it condenses information into digestible bites. But because the slides let the user click through at ease, the presentation can dilute the power of the information it aims to present. Bezos is one of an emerging crop of business leaders who is starting to understand that quality matters more than brevity.

The memo-driven model is attractive because it has greater room to engage the reader. Instead of brief copy, the reader now can get context, research, and read about solutions. In other words, they can go on a journey.

According to Bezos, even the act of creating the memos is a far stretch from what goes into constructing decks. Instead of patching together graphics and snippets of copy, “the great memos are written and rewritten, shared with colleagues who are asked to improve the work, set aside for a couple of days, and then edited again with a fresh mind.” To Bezos, a great memo should take at least a week or more to write.

Showpad users understand how thoughtful, well-written, and insightful content can engage buyers. Through tools like dynamic information navigation and visual engagement, content can suddenly tell a compelling story, opposed to one that doesn’t go further than the bullet points. Great storytelling, when crafted with the right insights and tailored according to the user’s interests, can be persuasive.

This is what salespeople want. They want to inspire their buyers, not just to purchase, but to see how the rep’s product or service will both serve their needs and solve their problems over the course of time. That can be a long journey. But like any great narrative epic, starting out is often the most important step. Content that commands attention and illuminates is what will make buyers turn the page for more.