copywriting


You may have seen ukulele phenom Jake Shhimabukuro’s YouTube video, shot in NYC’s Central Park, of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” which has more than 11 million (!) views.

You might also have seen Jake’s TED video where he performs a masterful version of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” all on four strings…:-)

I’m here speaking in Waikiki and chanced upon an excellent PBS-Hawaii documentary last night about Jake, a virtuoso who has “hit it big,” yet remains grounded in his values.

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

A favorite segment of the PBS special was when Jake played his ukulele in Sendai, Japan (ravaged by the 2011 tsunami), at a senior care center.

The expressions on these people’s faces, their tapping along with Jake’s strumming, was particularly poignant and profound.

Perhaps most powerful was Jake’s statement, “My goal when I play is to connect with my audience, to play music that moves them.”

Kudos to Jake. His goal deserves to be our goal as speakers and writers.

The goal of speaking is not to get a standing ovation. It is not to get a perfect 10 on our evaluations or to generate lots of “back of the room” sales.

The goal of writing is not to have a book that serves as a business card (gak). It is not to have a bestseller or to have “product” that drives our career.

Those are nice; those are welcomed; they’re just not the primary reason we speak and write.

The goal of speaking and writing is to connect with our audience members and readers; to share ideas, insights and stories that move them to feel something, to rethink something, to do something differently.

A participant came up after my presentation on Friday and said, “You just radiate joy. What is your secret?”

First, I thanked him and then told him, “I am so grateful for the opportunity to speak for a living.

To stay centered in my goal of genuinely connecting with participants and sharing something that puts the light on in their eyes; I repeat the following mantra to myself in the minutes before a presentation.

I am here to serve; not to show off.

I am here to inspire; not to impress.

I am here to make a difference; not to make a name.

Then, I start every presentation with Arthur Rubenstein’s quote … “I have found if you love life; life will love you back.”

I have found that if I center myself in that mantra and start off with Rubenstein’s quote, it grounds me in how much I love speaking.

And when we love what we do, people often love being around us and want to be part of it.

Any nervousness or self-consciousness disappears.

What takes its place is a sublime stream-of-consciousness where we’re swept up in an exquisite state of flow in which we’re one with our audience.

What mantra do you use to ground yourself in your clarity that the purpose of your speaking is to serve, not to show off; to inspire, not to impress; to make a difference, not to make a name?

When writing, I picture someone specific across the desk from me and write to that person. It could be one of my sons, a client or a friend, someone who could benefit from what I’m trying to get across.

It transforms writing from being an intellectual exercise, a brain dump of “What do I want to say?” to “What would put the light on in this person’s eyes?”

When I mentally reach out to a specific person, when my purpose is to write something that would resonate with them; the words flow out so fast my fingers can hardly keep up.

How about you?

Who are you going to speak to – write to?

How are you going to keep them top-of-mind by focusing on how you can reach them, resonate with them?

How are you going to center yourself in your intent to connect; which is the real reason we communicate?

Always has been. Always will be.

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“One sign of an excellent speech? ‘Can people repeat something they heard, word for word?'” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert

Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech was an instant classic.

Why?

It’s original, evocative and revealing.

Gaiman confesses that he ignored the wise advice from fellow author Stephen King to “enjoy the ride of his success.”

However, there’s an even more important reason Gaiman’s 20 minute talk has gone viral and been turned into a book which is coming out next week.

The popular author condensed his speech theme into a single sound-bite that is easy to repeat.

Make Good Art.

Think about it.

How many conventions and graduations have you attended? How many presenters and commencement speakers have you heard? Dozens? Hundreds?

Can you repeat ANYTHING they said?

If you can’t; that means they’re out of sight, out of mind. Their message had little or no enduring impact.

What’s an important message you want to share with the world?

If you want people to remember it and act on it; is YOUR responsibility to distill its essence into a repeatable sound-bite.

Successful film-makers know the importance of this.

“Show me the money.” “I’ll be back.” “You can’t handle the truth.” “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

You probably remember those movies even though it’s been YEARS since you’ve seen Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Nicholson and Roy Scheder utter those lines in the movies Jerry Maguire, the Terminator, A Few Good Men and Jaws.

Those movies are STILL top-of-mind decades after their release because their screenwriters crafted memorable lines that have legs.

In fact, check out the top movie quotes of all time. Almost ALL are 7 words or less.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFI’s_100_Years…100_Movie_Quotes

What’s this mean for you?

Look over your upcoming presentation.

Does it have a resounding idea that has been distilled into a pithy 7 words or less?

Have you condensed your theme into a title or sound-bite people can repeat, word for word?

If so, good for you. You have just increased the likelihood listeners will become YOUR word-of-mouth advertisers because they will be able to remember what you said and recommend it to others.

If not, you might want to pick up a copy of POP! and study Section IV on how to be PITHY with its chapters on:

* Make Your Language Lyrical with Alliteration
* Put Your Sound-bite in a Beat to Make it Easy to Repeat
* Make it Sublime with Rhyme

This is not petty. You’re pouring hours (and lots of money?) into designing and delivering a presentation that will hopefully impact everyone in the room.

Why not invest the time and mind to POP! your message into a memorable sound-bite so people are still being positively impacted by it … years after they’re out of the room?

http://www.amazon.com/POP-Create-Perfect-Tagline-Anything/dp/0399533613/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368223741&sr=1-1&keywords=sam+horn+pop

TV show friends

“That silence you just heard was me speaking my mind.” – coffee mug slogan

Did you ever watch the TV sitcom Friends?

Remember Phoebe, the self-described blonde ditz who sang, “Smelly cat, smelly cat?”

In one episode, Phoebe was complaining to Joey about something her brother did.

After listening for awhile, Joey interrupts her and says, “Phoebe, have you told your brother how you feel?”

She looks at him and says, “Yes… well, not out loud!”

Sound familiar?

Is there someone at work who’s mistreating you, making you miserable or driving you crazy?

Do you lay awake at night, reliving what you WISHED you’d said, over and over in your head?

Have you been telling everyone BUT the person who’s bothering you how outraged or offended you feel?

Studies show that’s what many of us do because we’re conflict averse.

We avoid confrontations because we don’t like to fight and we don’t want to make things worse. We just want to “keep the peace.”

Unfortunately, it’s hard to keep the peace with someone who’s making war on you.

What’s worse is … silence sanctions.

If you’re not saying anything to the person who is behaving in inappropriate ways; they’re “getting away with it” or they’re assuming it must not bother you too much because you’re not calling them on it.

Jack Canfield says, “People treat us the way we teach them to treat us.”

When we “turn the other cheek,” we TEACH people it’s okay to keep mistreating us. We’re showing them we won’t hold them accountable and we won’t speak up for ourselves.

You have a voice. Use it.

It’s time to say “No. Enough. Stop.”

The good news is, there are diplomatic ways to do this so you won’t lose your job … even if the person bothering you is your boss.

Here’s a sample scenario.

Imagine someone at work likes to get a rise out of female employees by saying things like, “You women are SO emotional” or “You always get stressed out.”

This person is senior to you so you’ve felt it wasn’t “your place” to let him know his sweeping generalizations are not true or fair.

Please recognize; it IS your place to establish and enforce boundaries to let people know they can’t “talk all over you.”

As Ann Landers loved to say, “People can’t walk all over you unless you lie down.”

Here are four ways you can use Tongue Fu!® to diplomatically, yet firmly, speak up for yourself.

1. If possible, address this issue in private instead of in public.

Calling someone out in front of others causes them to lose-face.

They will resent you – even if what you’re saying is true. They may feel a compulsion to escalate in an effort to put you down so they’re back “on top.”

2. Do NOT deny, defend or disagree with their sweeping accusations.

Denials backfire.

Think about it. If you say, “We are NOT emotional!!” or “I am NOT getting stressed-out” … you are.

3. Instead, put the conversational ball in THEIR court by asking, “What do you mean by that?” or “What makes you think that?”

Then, put a sock in it.

Asking a question gives them an opportunity to explain themselves. They have to give a specific example of what makes them say this. If they can’t; they’ll often back off or back down.

If they have a legitimate reason or explanation for what they believe, even if you don’t agree with it, at least you now know what’s REALLY going on and you can discuss that instead of reacting to their attack.

4. Another option is to simply repeat what they said as a question, emphasizing the extreme word.

“Really? ALL women are emotional?” “Is is true I ALWAYS get stressed out?”

Repeating an outrageous over-statement is one way to make it clear you’re not going to suffer in silence and passively allow them to throw around disparaging comments.

Remember; don’t pull a Phoebe.

Holding people accountable IN YOUR HEAD helps no one.

Speak up, in the moment, when people say inappropriate things so you’re teaching them to treat you and others with the respect we all want, need and deserve.

Did you like this tip?

There are dozens more in Sam Horn’s book Tongue Fu!®, which is currently ranked #3 on the Korean bestseller list, has been published in 17 languages around the world, and has been taught to such organizations as the U.S. Embassy in London, the U.S. Navy, Boeing, ASAE and Honolulu Police.

Tongue Fu!® is now available in a Kindle version so you can access it right here, right now on your e-reader.

http://www.amazon.com/Tongue-Better-Anytime-Anywhere-ebook/dp/B00APRX4FG/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1365616072&sr=1-1&keywords=tongue+fu+sam+horn

“Instant gratification takes too long.” – Carrie Fisher

As a communication strategist and pitch coach, I often have clients tell me, “You can’t say anything in 10 minutes.”

One client, who was pitching a room full of investors at the Paley Center in New York City, said, “Sam, there’s no way I can explain my company, team credentials, business model and exit strategy in 10 minutes.”

I said, “Kathleen, you don’t have 10 minutes. You’re going at 2:30 in the afternoon. Those investors will already have heard 15 other presenters. By that point, their eyes will be glazed over. You’ve got 60 seconds to get their eyebrows up.”

The good news is, we came up with a 60 second opening that not only got the interest and respect of that audience, it helped Kathleen Callendar of Pharma Jet land millions in funding and become selected as one of Business Week’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs of 2010.

(The full story is in this Fast Company article on How to Gain Buy-In to your Idea in 60 Seconds or Less. http://www.fastcompany.com/1751298/how-gain-buy-your-idea-60-seconds-or-less

So, what does that have to do with Super Bowl Sunday?

USA Today editors just selected the top 25 Super Bowl ads of the past 24 years … and all of them are 60 seconds or less.

Chances are, if you’ve seen them, you remember them and remember them … fondly.

They prove you can pack a lot into 60 seconds. You can win buy-in from target decision-makers, tell a compelling story and keep your brand and message top-of-mind, years after the fact.

As journalist Laura Petrecca reports in this article the winning ad “is the 1993 Nothing But Net commercial in which Michael Jordan and Larry Bird shoot an outlandish game of H-O-R-S-E ,” trying to out-do each other to win the right to dine on a McDonald’s Big Mac.”

http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/1862001

What’s this mean for you?

What’s a communication you’ve got coming up? A communication in which you want to win buy-in from decision-makers and customers?

Don’t waste the first 60 seconds with preliminary, perfunctory remarks. No, “I’m glad to be here ….” Or “When Bob asked me to speak …” or “Before I start, let me …”

In this day and age of instant gratification, you will already have lost the hearts and minds of your audience if you start with … INFObesity.

Instead, jump into something intriguing that gets people’s eyebrows up. It’s the single best thing you can do to make sure your pitch, presentation, commercial or communication wins buy-in for what you care about.

Are you thinking, “I agree with the importance of doing this; I just don’t know how to do it.”

Want good news? My E.Y.E.B.R.O.W. TEST system shows you how to earn the attention and respect of any audience … in 60 seconds or less.

Discover for yourself why these techniques have been won raves from clients around the world (London, Geneva, Toronto and throughout the U.S.) and have helped people receive millions in funding while helping their products, services and business break out instead of blend in.

http://www.intrigueagency.com/products-page/eyebrow/

Purchase it today to instantly have these E.Y.E.B.R.O.W. TEST tips at your fingertips … so you can have people at hello next time you want their attention and respect.

Years ago, insurance giant AFLAC had a problem.

Their company name was nonsensical. No one knew what it meant.

And why would customers entrust their money to a company when they didn’t understand their name?

So, their ad agency (brilliantly) asked themselves how they could take this unfamiliar name and relate it to something familiar so it all-of-a-sudden made sense?

They asked themselves, “What does an ‘AFLAC’ look like or sound like in the real world? How can we associate it with something people already know and like?

Hmmm … well, an AFLAC kind of looks and sounds like a duck saying QUACK.

Maybe we can turn that into a lovable duck that says ‘AFLAC.’”

Voila.

They created a visual icon that turned their idea into an image people could SEE.

Another insurance company had a similar challenge.

Government Employees Insurance Company was going “public.”

Instead of just offering policies to federal employees, it was now going to offer policies to anyone and everyone who could afford to pay for one.

So, how did they masterfully manage their transition and make their clunky acronym  G.E.I.C.O  meaningful and memorable?

Well, what do we think of when we hear the word GEICO?  What comes to mind that is close to it?

How about a cute little gecko?

Bingo.

GEICO’s cute green gecko has starred in countless commercials and become an instantly recognizable corporate symbol to millions.

Both of these financial services firms succeeded in making their cold, confusing names … warm and relatable.

The bottom-line?

Both AFLAC and GEICO dramatically increased their market-share and profits;  thanks to their ubiquitous “spokes-animal” ad campaigns that helped them POP! out of their  crowded industry.

So, what’s this mean for you and your business, idea or product?

Your financial success depends – to a large degree – on the “get-ability” of your name.

When prospective customers hear or see your name for the first time; what’s their reaction?

Do their eyebrows crunch up?

That means they don’t get it.  And if they don’t get it – you won’t get their attention, respect  or money because confused people don’t say yes and they don’t remember you or want to do business with you.

Why should they?  They have no idea what you do.  They can’t relate to you.

Your goal is to have a name for your business or product  that makes people’s eyebrows go UP.

That means they’re intrigued. That means they want to know more, which means they’re more likely to remember you and want to try and buy what you’re offering.

This Wall Street Journal  article – What’s In a Name? –  offers fascinating examples and insights into  the financial consequences of the RIGHT or WRONG name.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390443854204578058422730170626.html

Would you have gone to see a movie entitled $3000? That was the original name of Pretty Woman.

Would you have paid $8 to go see Anhedonia (the original name for Annie Hall)?

Check out this article to find out why some of your favorite movies might have failed if they had stuck with boring names that bombed with focus groups.

Are you thinking, “I agree that the right name is important;  I just don’t know how to come up with one that gets people’s eyebrows up.”

Well, check out POP!   Its 25 different techniques can help you  create clear, compelling names, titles and slogans that will resonate with your customers and decision-makers.

Have your pen handy so you can do the exercises to coin just the RIGHT name that will help your product, idea or business get noticed, remembered and bought.

http://www.amazon.com/POP-Create-Perfect-Tagline-Anything/dp/0399533613/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1352044604&sr=8-1&keywords=pop+-+sam+horn

“You can’t build on broken.” – Angela Blanchard, http://www.Neighborhood-Centers.org

Wise advice from Angela Blanchard, the visionary leader of the team who turned Houston’s AstroDome into a home-away-from-home in one day following Hurricane Katrina to provide much-needed services to the thousands of refugees arriving on buses from New Orleans.

“Imagine losing your home, job, community and almost all your possessions . . . and not knowing what happened to your family members and friends.

One woman told us, ‘No one came, no one came for days. We thought the world had come to an end. We thought something much worse had happened ‘out there.’

We realized asking questions such as, “What happened? What did you lose or leave behind?’ would only drive these individuals deeper into despair.

We decided instead to focus on what they did have instead of what they didn’t; to build on what’s strong instead of what’s wrong by asking, ‘What skills and knowledge do you have? Who might you know in this area?'”

Angela spoke of the across-the-board decency and dignity of these uprooted Louisiana residents.

“When Neighborhood Centers and other philanthropic organizations filled gyms with donated presents to give at a holiday celebration, many only took 1 or 2 gifts. ‘There are a lot of people worse off than us who need them more than we do,’ they said graciously.”

Angela’s “You can’t build on broken” epiphany is universal and enduring.

Next time you’re facing a challenge, remember, “The best way to move things along is to focus on what’s strong, not what’s wrong.”

P.S. In terms of POP!, why was Angela’s message so intriguing and “sticky?” Why did people continue to come up to her after her 15 minute presentation to thank her for her stirring insights?

One reason is because her conviction was so convincing. We were swept up in her heartfelt passion and vivid story-telling.

Another reason was she crafted her enduring insight – her eBIFany – into an alliterative sound-bite that rhymed.

Alliteration (words that start with the same sound – such as build-broken) gives our mind a hook on which to hang a memory.

Rhyme (wrong-strong) makes our language lyrical and our ideas instantly eloquent.

If you want people to remember and repeat YOUR insight – so they’re thinking about it, talking about it and acting on it days, weeks, months later – craft it into an alliterative sound-bite that rhymes to give it a long tail of influence.

Doing so will scale its impact – and isn’t that the point of communication?

Want more eBIFanies from BIF-7?

This inspiring conference, hosted by Saul Kaplan, showcases visionaries who saw a problem or opportunity and thought, “Somebody should do something about that.”

Then they thought, “I’m as much a somebody as anybody; I’ll do something about it.”

Their stories of how they figured out what to do when they didn’t know what to do show how we set our SerenDestiny® in motion when we care enough about something to do something about it.

E.L. Doctorow was asked what it was like writing a novel.

He thought about it for a moment and said, “It’s kind of like driving a car at night. You can only see to the end of your headlights; but you can make the whole trip that way.”

The innovators featured at BIF-7 weren’t quite clear what their destination was at the outset. They weren’t exactly sure where they were going or how they were going to get there.

They didn’t let that stop them.

Their instinctive desire to solve and serve told them, “Just ‘cause you don’t know isn’t an excuse not to go.” They just started driving.

And because they did, http://www.GlobalGiving.org exists. http://www.BigPictureLearning.org exists. http://www.WillowCreek.com exists. http://www.FutureLogic.com exists. http://www.Climb7.com exists. http://www.HealthLeadsUSA.org exists. http://www.Seriosity.com exists. http://www.Intent.com exists.

You’ll hear more about the above organizations (which represent just a few of the brilliant 30 thought-leaders who spoke at http://www.BIF-7.com ) in upcoming blogs.

Subscribe if you’d like to know how they got out of inertia and uncertainty and drove to the end of their headlights when there was no “there” there.

And, be sure to go to http://www.BusinessInnovationFactory.com to check out their BIF-7 highlight videos and @thebif Twitter feed, to join their community of “transformation artists and audacious change-makers,” and to access their blog, book club and video studio that can help you and your colleagues “unleash and accelerate the transformative power of innovation.”

“Inspiration often emerges from our work; it doesn’t precede our work.” – Madeleine L’Engle (author of A Wrinkle in Time)

A client emailed me to say she was having a hard time making progress on her book.

I sent her the following message – and thought it might have value for you if you’d like to get in that delightful stream-of-conscious state where the words are flowing out of your head so fast your fingers can hardly keep up.

(Name of client) . .. please keep giving yourself props for writing, writing, writing.

E.L. Doctorow was asked what it was like writing a book.

He said, “It’s kind of like driving a car at night: you can only see to the end of your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Keep driving to the end of your headlights.

Keep producing pages and getting your thoughts on paper.

They don’t have to be perfect and they don’t have to be right.

Just getting your thoughts down will trigger more – which will trigger more – and before you know it, your book is out of your head and on paper.

THEN – you can go back and start cleaning it up.

Don’t try to think up what you want to say. That keeps you in your head. Blocked. Stymied.

Just get your thoughts written down. That keeps you moving forward. That produces a momentum where your writing takes on a life and pace of its own.

All the best-selling authors at Maui Writers Conference – from Mitch Albom to Frank McCourt to Nicholas Sparks to James Rollins to Jacquelyn Mitchard – agreed.

Ink it when you think it.

Jot the thoughts when they’re hot.

Muse it or you’ll lose it.

If writing is hard, it’s because you’re thinking too hard.

Free up the flow.

How do you do that?

Get out in nature. Go somewhere the sun is shining. Fill yourself with the fresh air of a beautiful day, the serenity of deep, calm water, the eternal beauty of green trees or a sweeping vista of towering mountains. Drink in the quiet but powerful energy of that place.

Now, ask yourself:

“What do I passionately believe?

What do I feel is important?

What have I learned – the hard way – that might have value for others?

Who is my target reader? What is that person’s name? What is their story? Man? Woman? Married? Single? Kids? Working 60 hours a week? Out-of-work? What are they going through? What’s keeping them up at night? What are their doubts, fears, hopes, dreams? What could I share that would keep them going, help them deal with their challenges, put hope in their heart?

Fill your mind with that person. Picture him or her in front of you.

Now, reach out to that individual with your words.

Put your pen to paper – your fingers to keys – reach down into your gut – and start writing to THEM.

Pour out your heart, mind, soul and insights to THEM.

Make writing a outreach to that man or woman.

No fancy language. No struggling how to say it just so.

Write and reach out to them with your words until you see the light go on in their eyes.

Writing is not meant to be an intellectual execise where you are in your head, thinking, “What can I say?”

Writing is meant to be a communication – a bridge between our experience and expertise and our readers. The question is, “What would they benefit from hearing?”

Write to connect.

Write to share what you know, beleive and feel in a way that might add value for anyone reading your words.

When you do that, you free yourself up to to serve.

Writing is simply a way to pour out, “Here’s what I’ve experienced, observed, learned . . . and I’m sharing it with you in the hopes it might be of benefit.”

Write on.

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