Once upon a time, this copywriter was a chef.
That’s a tale for another time (I won’t bore you with old-glory stories of days well-remembered), but it’s true: I was, and I had the good fortune to learn a thing or three from some of the finest names in the business.
But that’s not the point.
One of the most relevant takeaways from the whole experience is the origin story of Spaghetti Carbonara.
You’ll hear about a thousand variations, but this story is the real one straight from the source: an internationally-renowned lifetime chef whose family hails from Palermo, Italy, since forever and with whom I was lucky enough to share a kitchen.
We’ll get to the business part.
Back in the early 19th century, a loosely-knit network of secret revolutionaries – freedom fighters – later collectively known as the “Carbonari” spread across Italy: people displeased with the political, social, and intellectual environment of the time.
One such group’s leadership regularly met in a tall church tower via secret entrance, where they could hold council with an unobstructed view of their surroundings. What they discussed has faded through time, but what they ate? Of that, we have a very clear account.
A quick digression: “Carbonari” literally means “charcoal burners”.
Under curfews, surveillance, and general noble revile, they waited until nightfall to depart for clandestine meetings. Taking advantage of the cover of darkness (faint streetlamps illuminating only prominent intersections), they painted their faces and hands black with charcoal.
Anyway, en route to what would be the chapter’s final secret meeting, the resource-strapped Carbonari stole and foraged for what they could. They knew this was The Big Night and wanted to enjoy a last meal together.
They gathered what they could find:
- Pancetta, pilfered (and nearly not) from a slaughterer’s storefront
- Parmesan cheese, precision-procured by similar sleight
- Spring onions, springing wild at tower’s base
- Pasta, prepared fresh pre-meeting
- Eggs, origin unremembered
I’ll spare you the cooking lesson.
If you want to learn how to make real Carbonara, I’d be happy to tell you – it’s super-easy – but this little ditty’s supposed to be about business, remember?
Yeah, so WhyTF should you, entrepreneur, care about Carbonara in the first place?
In a word, it’s “authentic”. That’s a cool buzzword people like to say these days… but like any other word, it’s actually supposed to mean something. I’m not here to tell you authentic Carbonara is the only Carbonara you can or should fully enjoy.
The point is the opposite:
Customers can enjoy any Carbonara variation they like.
Sorry – I might’ve ruined Carbonara for you. As a restaurant customer, you’ve done (somewhat accidental) spaghetti research now and you know what to expect. Hello, informed consumer!
Whatever they serve you might actually be better than “authentic” Carbonara, but that doesn’t matter because you’re going to be let down – your expectations weren’t met.
Not to detract from any kickass spaghetti.
So please, make yours clear.
The original Carbonara’s stood for 200 years. It’s pretty good, and I don’t even like eggs very much (sue me). It stands on authenticity.
Spaghetti’s a great example: like most trendy buzzwords, ‘authentic’ (or innovative or whatever the hell) isn’t some vague concept or a value-added phrase you slap all willy-nilly across colourful banners and oxy-degradable packaging.
Yet, I see a disturbing amount of “marketing-speak” these days.
Even from people who should, by any measure, know better in 2015.
Ask yourself: is Your Widget genuinely innovative? Truly a game-changer? Honestly disruptive and absolutely unique?
Do you growth-hack cloud data streams to synergize agile
revenue pivots, dude? Are you a fucking wizard??
Well, by golly, then I wanna hear all about it.
Because maybe if I pretend to know what the hell you’re talking about for long enough, you’ll offer me a taste of whatever obscure illicit substance got you all riled up like that. Sounds downright intense!
On second thought, though, let’s just be real.
It’ll be better for both of us.
Tell Sell it like it is.
Take a good look and you’ll find buzzwords most often fall flat. Not to say a revolutionary Carbonara can’t happen. It just usually doesn’t, at least not in a good way.
Don’t oversell – you’ll regret. Don’t undersell – you’ll resent.
And today’s top buzzword? Doesn’t disrupt any paradigms at all.
Whether you peddle real-deal Carbonara, kick-in-the-sales copywriting,
or anything beyond, customers always seek the truth;
the meaning; the feeling; behind it.
Express that, and you’ll speak louder than any buzzword ever could.
This post was written by The Copywriter