web copy


I hate you

“My eldest daughter told me she hated me when she was in the second grade.”

Bet that got your attention!

Which is the point.

Most articles, blogs and books start off with blah-blah preliminaries to “set the scene.”

Forget that.

Don’t set the scene. Jump into the scene.

That article could have started out predictably with, “This is a review of Sheryl’s Sandberg new book about women in the workplace.”

Yawn. Are you motivated to drop what you’re doing and keep reading?

I didn’t think so.

But instead, that first sentence popped off the page and motivated me to read the rest of this excellent article by Katharine Weymouth of the Washington Post entitled, How Can You LEAN IN If You Don’t Have Anyone to LEAN ON?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katharine-weymouth-how-do-you-lean-in-when-you-dont-have-someone-to-lean-on/2013/03/22/b117d730-8b24-11e2-b63f-f53fb9f2fcb4_story.html

What are you writing right now? A blog? Article? Report? Book chapter? Web copy? Marketing brochure?

Review your first sentence and paragraph.

Does it set the scene – or jump into the scene?

If you want to have readers at hello, pleasantly surprise them by JUMPING into a dialogue phrase pulled from the story that illustrates your point.

Readers will be intrigued, and they’ll want to know … the rest of your story.

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Several attention-getting names caught my eye this morning.

Today’s WSJ features an article about people who have taken advice from spouses about work-related issues only to have that advice backfire. What are those spouses called? Badvisors.

This mornings USA Today features an article about Chrisopher Buckley, author of the brilliant Thank You For Smoking, and his latest satire about the coming fiscal Armageddon when 77 million baby boomers start wanting their Social Security checks instead of their MTV. Its clever name? Boomsday. Brilliant.

Fellow blogger Marilynn Mobley,Senior VP of Edelman, emailed about a new company that makes luxury items for young children, such as pacifiers adorned with crystals. Their smile-inducing name? Aristobrats!

The good news is, ANYONE –with a little brain power and the Alphabetizing technique described in my POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd book– can come up with their own stop-em-in-their-tracks title to help their priority project break out.

I used this technique to create my trademarked topic of Tongue Fu!® – the verbal form of Kung Fu. A popular book attracting a lot of media attetnion is called Shopportunity.

Want to learn how to create a name that gets you and your ideas noticed? Read more at http://SamHornPOP.com.

Best-selling author Elmore Leonard was once asked why he thought his books were so popular. His answer? “I try to leave out the parts people skip.”

I had the pleasure of sharing my POP! tips on a podcast recently with John Jantsch – author of Duct Tape Marketing and creator of Forbes’ and Fast Company’s #1 rated blog on small business and marketing.

As you may already know, POP! stands for Purposeful, Original, and Pithy – the three prerequisites to sticky messages that capture and keep your attention.

John modeled the POP! process with his succinct definition of marketing. He said, “Marketing is getting somebody who has a need to know you, like you, and trust that you can supply it for them.”

John also mentioned his sure-fire system for test-marketing his material to make sure it POP!s. He runs it by his four teenaged daughters to see if they “get it and want it.” He added, “They’re imaginative, playful and have no time for B.S. If it doesn’t pass their litmus test, it’s back to the editing room.”

Look at your marketing messages and elevator speech.

Are you leaving out the parts people skip? Have you condensed the definition of what you do into a succinct sound-bite? Do you have a litmus test to see if people “get and want” what you have to offer?

If so, kudos. If not, it’s back to the drawing board or . . . listen to our podcast that talks about how you can market your business by developing attention-grabbing names, slogans, and ad campaigns at www.DuctTapeMarketing.com.

How do you explain an abstract concept so people “get it?” Just ask the 3-time Pulitzer Prize winning author of such best selling books as The World is Flat and The Lexus and the Olive Tree.

In his speeches, Thomas Friedman uses the “Pottery Barn Rule” of “You break it, you own it” to describe his stance on the War in Iraq. The result? An abstract concept crystallizes in the minds of the audience.

Friedman’s quotes have been referenced by such thought-leaders as Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and the online anyone-can-contribute encyclopedia, Wikipedia. Such references only increase Friedman’s credibility and expertise on the subject.

Want another example of a company who made their concept concrete by turning the abstract into an image?

When a group of preschoolers was asked what sounds animals made, they gave the usual answers: sheep – baa, cows – moo, horses – neigh, and so on. When asked what sound ducks made, they said….”Aflac!

Do you have a nonsensical business name? Are you presenting an abstract topic? Take notes from Thomas Freidman and Aflac and turn your abstract concept into a concrete image by connecting the unknown to something it looks like or sounds like in the real world. When your audience says “Oooh, I see now,” or “Ahh, now I get it” – you’re in business.

Want more? Visit www.samhornPOP.com
Want to schedule an interview with Sam Horn, author of POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd (Perigee)? Contact Cheri Grimm, Sam Horn’s business manager at info@samhorn.com

Yes, the year-end holidays are over, however there is still a marketing lesson to be learned from them. Two clever movie ads I saw riffed on traditional Christmas songs to come up with smile-inducing taglines.

The first trumpeted the release of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” DVD with WRECK THE HALLS. The second prominently featured a sheep along with the pig and spider from “Charlotte’s Web” with the caption FLEECE NAVIDAD.

Then there was the romance novel featured in the store window of a major bookstore. It featured a Fabio look-alike stretched out on a fur rug in front of a Yule log fire. The title? “The Knight Before Christmas.”

Valentine’s Day is only a month away. Could you tie in your blog post, article, or marketing slogan to a popular love song that is frequently mentioned along with that holiday? It could make your idea or offering more topical so it captures attention from the media and your customers.

Just comb your descriptive copy and pull out key words that explain what your program/product is or does. Those are your “core”words. Then, visit www.freelyrics.com and enter those words into the search engine. Up will come dozens of song titles with “your” phrases. Now, let the word play begin to see if you can come up with a catchy ad or promotion campaign that gets your priority project noticed and remembered.

What do Ted Leonsis, Crackberry, and Little MissMatched all have in common?

They’re all been inducted into the 2006 POP! Hall of Fame – which honors individuals and entities that have captured the public’s interest because of their originality. Previous winners have included Freakonomics, Java Jacket, Daddle, and Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.

I believe the best way to corner a niche is to create a niche. And the best way to create a niche is to coin a one-of-a-kind approach.

These people and products are examples of how anyone and anything can break out if you pleasantly surprise people with something they haven’t seen and heard before.

1.Treadmill Dance. The band OK GO catapulted from obscurity into the spotlight with their innovative dance routine on, you guessed it – treadmills. After 56 takes and much bumping and bruising, the “Treadmill Dance” was born, creating a word-of-“mouse” phenomenon which, through the distribution power of YouTube has been viewed by over 100 million people.

2. Ted’s Takes. This Vice Chair of AOL has decided to pro-actively control his public image rather than passively leaving it to chance. By blogging daily, he’s posted snippets of his celebrity-filled life and strategically linked to other high-profile entrepreneurs such as Mark Cuban. The result? He now receives up to 15,000 visits a day and his “take” on life shows up first when he’s Googled. As a bonus, he says, “I have moral authority and credibility with employees and people in the industry that I’m not just talking about Web 2.0, I’m living it.”

3. Little MissMatched. Capitalizing instead of complaining about the “lost sock phenomenon” by selling funky mismatched socks, gloves and mittens in has catapulted this online retailer into a multimillion dollar company. Their slogan? “Nothing matches but anything goes.”

4. POPera. Pop + Opera = SALES! Combining popular tunes – ala Josh Groban and II Divo – to make a how that is sure to make it big. As soon as you create a never-before-seen word, you don’t just have a clever title, tagline or brand, you have the beginnings of a business empire.

5. MasterCard – “You’re on my fantasy team.” Why did Colts quarterback Peyton Manning earn $11.5 million in endorsement income this year? Partially because of his ad-libs for Master Card in which the commercial director simply asked him to repeat what he frequently hears from fans. Speak in your target market’s language and they’ll identify with you.

6. Heinz. Yes, even packaging can POP! How many times have you pounded a ketchup bottle against your palm trying to get that thick tomato paste out? In what has to be the “Duh!” moment of the decade, someone at Heinz had the bright idea to redesign the bottle and turn it upside down so it sits on its cap. Voila. Problem solved.

7. Metronatural®. This trademarked Half & Half Word captures and communicates the dual draw of Seattle – it’s a thriving metropolis surrounded by majestic natural beauty. Thanks to POP! fan David Zinger for alerting me to another catchy city slogan “Keep it Querque” for . . . what else but Albuquerque?

8. Spot the Tot. 500 children a year are run over in their own driveway by people who inadvertently back up over them. A movement launched to prevent these tragic deaths is called “Spot the Tot” — a classic example of how “Cliff-Noting” your campaign into a clear, concise message increases the likelihood people will remember and follow its important advice.

9. Crackberry. This clever “Alphabetized Word” alludes to the addictive qualities of Blackberry (just ask the hundreds of thousands suffering from “Blackberry Thumb“). You don’t have to be a creative genius to come up with a new word. Write down 10 words that describe your pet project. Now, run them through the ABC’s, changing the sound of the first syllable to match the corresponding letter. Want another example (and a close runner-up in this category?) What do you call a cubicle with a view . . .that’s right, viewbicle.

10. No Child Left Inside. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, (a clever play on the words Attention-Deficit Disorder) pioneered a back-to-nature movement to reconnect children with the outdoors and developed the perfect name that “plays off” the No Child Left Behind legislation. Just as a jazz pianist riffs off common chords to create new music, POP! artists riff off common slogans to create new variations.

Want more? Visit www.samhorn.com
Want to schedule an interview with Sam? Contact Cheri Grimm in Sam’s California office at 800 SAM-3455 or email info@samhorn.com

 

The headline of an article in the November 3 editor of USA Today proclaims, Seinfeld Stings Typical Movie Trailers.

Perhaps you’ve seen this clever ad campaign which features Jerry in an enormous honeybee costume promising Chris Rock (who’s outfitted as a mosquito) that he’ll show up at his wife’s book-signing as a payoff for appearing in his upcoming Bee Movie (another play on words.)

This spoof has been generating a lot of water-cooler conversation because of its innovative approach. Instead of featuring actual clips from the movie, it features the stars talking about the movie.

As Seinfeld said to the reporter interviewing him for the article, “Let’s face it, if this was just a regular trailer cut with footage of the film, you and I wouldn’t be sitting here talking about it.”

Exactly. If you want to get noticed, don’t do what’s obvious, do what’s opposite.

Look at your ad, web copy, newsletter. Is it same old, same old? What can you do with your next version to take people by surprise? Ask yourself, “What’s a norm in my industry? What’s a belief everyone holds to be true? How can I challenge that? Could you be counter-intuitive and claim, “Customers are NOT Always Right.”

We’re coming into the holidays. Could you take a common tradition and turn it upside down? That’s what several enterprising companies did last year, literally. Picture a “normal” Christmas tree, with branches wide at the bottom, narrowing up to the star on top.

Now, turn that tree on its head and you get the INVERTED CHRISTMAS TREE that Hammacher Schlemmer couldn’t keep in stock . . . at $599.95 a POP. Target featured three upside-down trees on its website, pointing out one of the best attributes, “Leaves more room on the floor for gifts!”

What’s the point? To stop busy people in their tracks, we must say, do, or offer something out of the ordinary. How are you doing that with your business?

Want more ways to help your organization stand out from the crowd instead of get lost in the crowd? Visit www.SamHornPOP.com to order copies of POP! to jump-start the creativity of your sales/marketing team. Call Cheri Grimm at 805 528-4351 for volume discounts for orders of more than 10 books.