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

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Hello subscribers and readers!

I will be speaking at the California Women’s Conference this September and am very excited for the opportunity to share the stage with some of the most brilliant minds around. In the meantime, I would like to invite you to a pre-conference teleseminar that I have been selected to participate in.

I will be the featured expert on one of the twelve pre-conference global training seminars and will demonstrate how you can immediately stand out to open more doors, close more deals, and scale your success!

>> Here are the event details:

http://successshowcase.com/media/samhorn-cwc1

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Event: [Live Global Teleseminar & Webcast]

Expert Showcase: Featuring Sam Horn

Topic: How To Open More Doors, Close More Deals, and Make More Money

  • Learn how to lead into a conversation and be memorable
  • Learn how to apply the E.Y.E.B.R.O.W. technique to test any communication
  • The 5W method to keep people’s attention

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>> BONUS: There will be a chance to win some amazing giveaways and gifts just for being a part of the live events!
(It pays to show up.)

We hope you’ll join us!
Best,

Sam

P.S. Be sure to leave your comments and questions for me during the live teleseminar and webcast events. I value your feedback.

http://successshowcase.com/media/samhorn-cwc1

“You can become blind by seeing each day as a similar one. Each day is a different one, each day brings a miracle of its own. It’s just a matter of paying attention to this miracle.” – Paulo Coelho

In the beginning, clients often tell me they think writing is hard work.

I tell them, “Not if you write when you’re flush with ideas.”

Do you know how flush is defined?

“A rushing or overspreading flow.

A sudden rise of emotion or excitement.

Glowing freshness or vigor.”

Wow. What writer wouldn’t want that?

Writing is only a chore or a bore when you over-think it.

From now on, don’t write when you’re grinding; write when you’re glowing.

Writing is joyous when you’ve just observed or experienced something different, something intense – and you’re simply transferring the aha’s running through your mind onto paper.

The thing is, many of us are busy so we set aside a time to write. We sit down at the appointed hour and expect flow to show up, on command.

Flow doesn’t like to take orders.

It has a mind of its own.

It happens IN THE MOMENT.

It happens when we’re one with something that just happened and the miracle of it is filling our mind, soul and spirit.

That’s when we need to sit down and write.

When those exquisite moments happen, we need to GO WITH THAT FLOW or it disappears.

Next time, you see something, feel something, understand something as if for the first time … and your mind starts racing with epiphanies … honor them.

Sit down (even though you have ‘other things to do) and get those thoughts out of your head and onto the screen or notepad … as fast as you can.

Without editing or critiquing.

Let what wants to be said come out in a vigorous rush … because what’s coming out is alive.

It may not be grammatically perfect … but it will have a voice, a passion, a pithy purity that only results when we’re swept up in what wants to be said.

When we do that, when we get out of the way and facilitate what wants to be said along its way, we collaborate with the muse.

It may sound grandiose, but writing those thoughts down in the moment is a way to render them immortal.

When we are in that pure state of flow, we are simply the conduit for whatever insights are blossoming within us.

We are merely the messenger and our role is to get those thoughts out of our head (where they serve only us) and into the world (where they have the opportunity to serve many).

You know you’re getting this “right,” when you look at what you’ve written and it’s better than you know how.

So, if you want writing to be a blessing instead of a burden; if you want to be at your intriguing best, write in the FLUSH of the moment to free up FLOW.

They don’t call them fleeting thoughts for nothing.

Next time you experience something that gets your juices flowing, get going.

Actually, sit down and let what wants to be said …. get said.

  “The best way to corner a niche is to create a niche.  And the best way to create a niche is to … coin your own word.” – Sam Horn

Encountered a couple of early entries for the 2012 POP! Hall of Fame … and thought I’d share them to kick-start your  thinking about what newly-coined  NURDS (New Words) you’d like to submit for this year’s contest.

Previous winners have included:

*  Diabesity:  Dr. Francine Kaufman’s term for the epidemic of Type 2 Diabetes that is triggered by obesity.

*  Snuba:  It’s half snorkel and half scuba … and it’s a new multi-million dollar industry.

*  Freakonomincs:  Are you going to run right out and buy the latest tome on economics?  Probably not.  But authors Dubner and Levy turned their concept into an international brand – movies, media appearances, blogs, 6-figure consulting contracts – by giving it a first-of-its-kind name that appealed to the masses.

*  A.W. Shucks:  What else would you call an oyster bar in Charleston, SC?

*  Yappy Hour:  The Holiday Inn in Alexandria, VA has received millions of dollars of free press due to its innovative Friday night “petworking” opportunities for dogs.

*   YOUmanity:  Aviva came up with the ideal name for their “chain of kindness” philantrhopy campaign

*  Geek2Geek.com:  Think Match.com for pocket protector types.  As one personal ad proclaimed, “Tall, dork and handsome.”

*  SerenDestiny®:  Okay, I admit it, I’m partial to this one because it’s the title of my next book.  And like Tongue Fu!®, I’ve been able to trademark SerenDestiny® which means it can be merchandised and monetized … in perpetuity.

*  Java Jacket:  You can’t build a business around an un-prounounceable name.  So Jay Sorenson gave those “cardboard insulating sleeves” you put around your cup of coffee an easy-to-say-and-remember name.

*  Revenew:  Just met the founder of this start-up in NYC at the WOIS Summit.  You’ve heard of Spell Check?  This is a fantastic example of a POP! technique called Spell Chuck.  Chuck the normal spelling of a word and come up with your own.  Brilliant.

*Tiecoon:  This shop in NYC’s Penn Station – which sells neckties to Wall Street financiers – stopped me in my tracks and motivated me to snap a photo.  Which is the point.  If it’d been named Jack’s ties, I would have walked on by and not even noticed it.   Does your store name have people at hello?

Now, in case you’re thinking, “Okay, these are clever names.  Big whoop.”

Please understand … NURDS aren’t petty; they’re profitable.

This is not wordplay…this is wordcash.

ALL of these names have helped their products, businesses or services STAND OUT and get noticed, remembered … and rich.

Several of these names have generated millions in revenue for their owners.

In fact, as Jay Sorenson, originator of Java Jackets says, “Customers who meant to call my competitors actually end up calling me …because they can’t remember my competitors’ names.”

So, what first-of-its-kind business, book, product, store names have you seen this year?  What intriguing NURD popped out and got your attention?

Submit your entry by email to Sam@IntrigueAgency.com for the 2012 POP! Hall of Fame contest … and send a photo if you’d like. 

We’ll post the best NURDS 0n our blog and on our Facebook page. 

Winning entries who make the final Top 10 Winners in the 2012 POP! Hall of Fame get a free copy of POP!  … or your choice of any of our  books.

“Individuality is fine.  As long as we do it together.” – Frank Burns, M*A*S*H

I had the privilege of living in Hawaii for 17 years.

As much as I loved living in Paradise, I didn’t realize how professionally isolating it was until I moved to the Mainland  – the Wash DC area. 

A colleague Rebecca Morgan, (co-founder of SpeakerNetNews.com) and I roomed together at a convention that year. We stayed up late every night debriefing what we’d learned and swapping best-practice tips.

We decided to continue this rewarding collaboration by inviting 5 carefully selected peers to join us in monthly phone calls and twice-a-year in-person meetings.

At our first meeting, we were “going around the table” updating each other on our priority projects and pinpointing where and how we could use help.

When it was my turn, I said, “I’m thoroughly enjoying this and I’m glad to be part of it. I just can’t think of anything I need help with, so I’ll donate my time back to the group.”

It was quiet for a moment. Then Rebecca (bless her heart) said, “Well, what are you working on right now?”

“I’m re-doing my website.”

“We can help you with that, “Rebecca said confidently.

And she was right. A half hour later, my website was infinitely better because of the group’s suggestions.

My subsequent epiphany was, “It had been so long since I had asked for help, I had forgotten how.”

Since there hadn’t been any other professional speakers on Maui at that time, I didn’t have anyone to “talk shop” with.

The few times I did share my business activities with acquaintances, they simply didn’t have the industry knowledge to be able to give informed advice.

So, I stopped asking. I ended up doing everything myself. And that worked pretty well. As the saying goes, it was what it was.

Six Heads are Better Than One

“It isn’t melodramatic to say your destiny hangs upon the impression you make.” – Barbara Walters

But, after that first experience with the Master Mind group, I realized it isn’t melodramatic to say our success hangs upon the mutually-rewarding strategic relationships we make.

For example, I was discussing an online info-product I was developing and Val asked, “Why are you only offering one pricing option? Why not bundle your CD’s together and offer three different packages so people can buy at their own comfort level?”

Uh, duh. Why wasn’t I doing that? Because it had never occurred to me.

That’s just one of the many advantages gained from having a variety of people bring their objectivity and combined expertise to the table (so to speak.)

As entrepreneurs, we often get so close to our work; we can’t see it clearly anymore.

That’s one of the many advantages of being part of a strategic master-mind.

Peers can often pinpoint our blind-spots and tell exactly what we need to do differently to break through an impasse.

Group brainstorming not only saves us a lot of trial-and-terror learning; it’s the quickest way to dramatically improve and expedite  results.

Are You Trying to Go It Alone?

“Remember, we’re all in this … alone.” – Lily Tomlin

Are you preparing an important communication … all on your own?  Are you writing a book, developing a presentation or polishing a pitch?

Maybe you don’t know anyone who has experience with what you’re pursuing.

Or, you live in an isolated area and you’re going it alone because there doesn’t seem to be any alternative.

Or, somewhere along the way you were taught not to “bother” people by asking for their help, so your default is to be self-sufficient rather than seeking support?

If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past 20 years of helping people create more compelling communications;  it’s that strategically aligning with colleagues how have our band AND our front is a non-negotiable for fast-forwarding our success.

The good news is, we don’t have to be an individual struggling to figure everything out on our own.  We can go it alone  … together.

How?  Just follow the model for the Quaker Square Hotel in Akron, Ohio.

What’s this about the Quaker Hotel?  Quaker Oats executives were planning to demolish several unused grain silos standing next to each other.

Fortunately, one exec asked, “Why tear the silos down? Why not take out the inner walls, connect them and turn them into a one-of-a-kind, historically relevant hotel?”

Voila.   The stunning result is a model of how we can take out inner walls and connect with others, side by side, so we have the best of BOTH worlds by going solo and by going silo.

Form Your Own Strategic Master-Mind 

A reporter asked Bette Midler, “What’s the hardest part of success?” She said, “Finding someone who is genuinely happy for you.”

Forming your own strategic master-mind is a way to surround yourself with people who support you and stand behind you. People who facilitate your success and have your back.

Forming your own strategic master-mind s is a way to surround yourself with people who stretch you and show you the way. People who fast-forward your success and have your front.

Best of all, forming your own strategic master-mind is a way to align with people who have your best interests at heart.

Divvy up the time so everyone has an opportunity to share highlights and lessons-learned – and an opportunity to brainstorm/strategize a priority project.   ASK everyone for input on how they can accelerate and achieve better results for the upcoming year.

It will be “rising tide raising all boats” gathering that benefits all involved.

Everyone will be genuinely happy for your success …  because they helped create it.

“In influencing others; example is not the main thing.  It’s the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Agreed.

What’s a situation coming up in which you want to influence someone to give you their time, mind or dime?

If you want to capture and keep their attention – if you want to open their mind and change their mind  – don’t open with information.

Open with an example.

In fact, follow Dr. Brene’ Brown’s shining example …

I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Brene’ Brown at a recent Leadership Colloquium at NASA Goddard.

Brene’s TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability is one of the top ten most-downloaded TED videos.

After the first 10 minutes of her NASA presentation, it’s easy to understand why.

She’s disarmingly honest about her journey from being a left-brained researcher who only valued bottom-line facts to discovering the transcendent, whole-hearted, free-flowing love that comes from having children.

What she didn’t anticipate was the fear that comes from being a mom.

She described how she used to stand in her kids’ rooms at night and watch them sleep … and weep.

Why?

She cherished them so much, she was afraid something would happen to them.

She knew this was illogical. They were perfectly healthy, perfectly fine.  Yet there she was … miserable.

She started researching why the emotion of happiness seems to be irrevocably tied with fear – and used an EXAMPLE to open our eyes to how common this phenomenon is.

A family is driving to their grandparents’s house for Christmas.  The parents are uptight because they’re running late.

The kids, sitting in the back seat, start singing Jingle Bells .

The parents realize how ridiculous they’re being and start singing Jingle Bells along with them.

At this point, Brene’ asked the audience, “And then what happened?”

Guess what the majority said??

“They get in a car accident.”

Is that what you thought?

Do you know what that means?

It means, deep down, you believe happiness is fleeting – you believe it is too good to be true.

How about you?  In the midst of things going well, are you, at some level, waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Arrgghh.

Say it ain’t so.

Brene’ went on to explain that, in an effort to protect ourselves against the pain we feel when something goes wrong  … we prepare ourselves by projecting it so we won’t be blindsided when the heartache happens.

Not only does that cut short any joy we might be feeling, that “failure forecasting” increases the likelihood of something going wrong because that’s what we’re focused on.  Then, if something does go wrong, it reinforces our worst fears and proves us “right.” This sets up an emotionally unhealthy spiral where we have even more cause to worry.

Brene’ continued with constructive ways to change this destructive default … if we choose.

Okay, what’s the point?

Look back over this post.

Were you engaged?  Were you thinking about that insight that some people are afraid of happiness – and thinking how it relates to you?

That’s because Brene’s EXAMPLE pulled you in and helped you SEE this situation.

If Brene (or I) had just talked about how some of us are waiting for the other shoe to drop – even when things are going well – that would have been wah-wah rhetoric.  You may not have related to it because it was information.

People today are suffering from InfoBesity.  They don’t want more information.

They can get all the information they want – anytime they want – online for the click of a button.

People want to be intrigued.

And one of the best ways to intrigue people is with EXAMPLES – not information.

Back to your upcoming situation where you’ll be trying to persuade someone to give you their valuable time, attention, respect, business, account or funding.

Don’t start with information.  Start with a real-life example that helps them SEE what you’re saying so they’re experiencing it – not just hearing it.

Be sure to check out Dr. Brene Brown’s website and blog.  Her insights on how we can be wholehearted – instead of going through life half-hearted because we’re protecting ourselves from pain – are brilliant.  http://www.brenebrown.com/

I rediscovered an old friend today.

Reader’s Digest.

I’m visiting my sister and brother-in-law this weekend – Cheri and Joe Grimm – who have been running my business and website for the past 15 years.

They gifted me with a stay in a delightful bed and breakfast here in Los Osos, CA (on the coast 40 miles south of Hearst Castle).

I noticed a copy of Reader’s Digest on my night table, and impulsively took it with me this morning to read while enjoying my coffee and a fabulous view overlooking the bay.

After the first few pages, fond memories came flooding back.

I was first introduced to Reader’s Digest when my family and I would go to our Granny’s house in Eagle Rock, CA for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

If the weather was good, my sister, brother and cousins and I would play outside.

If the weather was bad, we were “banished” to the back porch.

And there, on the bookshelves, were stacks and stacks of Reader’s Digest.  On some particularly rainy weekends, we would work our way through years of issues.

I was once asked by a reporter where I got my “literary training.”  Did I study journalism in college, have an English degree or a Ph.D. in Communication?

No, no and no.

My teachers were Walter Farley (The Black Stallion series), Nancy Drew and Ed McBain (our librarian was a bit scandalized when this 12 year old kid checked out the racy 86th Precinct books from our small town, one-room library).

After delving into the May 2012 issue of RD,  laughing out loud at pithy one-liners , raising my eyebrows at “didn’t know that” insights, and tearing out article after article offering testimony to man’s HUMANITY to man … I am struck by the profound influence Reader’s Digest has had on my writing, speaking and approach to life.

For example, this My Most Unforgettable Character article entitled The Night I Met Einstein, (which RD notes is one of the most requested essays of the thousands in their archives), moved me with its timeless wisdom.

http://www.rd.com/true-stories/inspiring/the-night-i-met-einstein/

Take a few minutes to read it and you’ll easily understand why.  This was written more than 60 years ago (!) and is as powerful today as it was when Jerome Weidman first wrote it.

It is an illustration of why I loved reading Reader’s Digest growing up – and was profoundly shaped by its recurring themes of decency, honor, resourcefulness, bravery, adventure and gratitude.

I remember to this day reading a story about a mother standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes while watching her two kids outside flying kites on a windy spring day.

One of them saw her watching and called out to ask her to join them.

She waved them off and said she couldn’t because she had too many chores.

She reminisced that now that her kids were out of the house and on their own, she often thought about that windy spring day and wished she had said YES when they asked her to come out and play.

She realized, too late, her chores could have waited;  their precious, all too fleeting, childhood wouldn’t.

That article came to mind many times when my sons Tom and Andrew were growing up.  They would come up while I was writing and ask, “Let’s play ping pong” or “Let’s go to the beach.”

I would think of the presentations I had to prepare, the handouts I needed to create, or the calls I needed to be make … and then I would think of that article.

Remembering that mom’s remorse about not playing with her kids while she still could – and while they still wanted her presence – prompted me to say YES  instead of telling them I had work to do and was too busy.

Do yourself a favor.

Buy a copy of Reader’s Digest and read it cover-to-cover while sitting somewhere in the sunshine – in your favorite chair by the window, at a local park surrounded by nature or out on your back patio.

It will make you smile  … i.e., an article in the May issue from children’s book author and Simpsons writer Mike Reiss who says a publishing house called him in a panic because a superstar celebrity client had turned in an unusable, overdue manuscript.  They wanted Mike to re-write the book and have it ready – the next day.

Mike said huffily, “A children’s book is not a fast-food hamburger, and I am not McDonald’s.’

They told me, ‘We’ll pay you $10,000.’

I said, ‘You want fries with that?”

Reader’s Digest will get your eyebrows up with recent research.

This month’s issue features tidbits on Decision Fatigue, and the fact that,  just as we always suspected, Yawns Are Contagious,  which is why we often release one of our own when someone nearby opens wide.

It may even warm your heart and motivate you to be kinder to people you encounter.

It may remind you, as does the article about Einstein opening the eyes, ears, heart and mind of a musical neophyte, of what really matters – listening, learning, loving and marveling at this wondrous world of ours.

Mostly what Reader’s Digest will do is showcase that its editors understand that Carrie Fisher is right when she says, “Instant gratification takes too long.”

They are masters at condensing their content into intriguing  20 word, 50 word, 150 word insights that POP!

Their headlines,  “Cash Mob,” “Inspiring Minds Want to Know,” “We Couldn’t Make This Up,” and “50 Secrets Your Vet Won’t Tell You” create curiosity and compel you to keep reading because you want to know more.

Their visually accessible copy with short paragraphs and frequent boxed off graphics show they know people like to dip in and derive value even if they only have a few minutes to spare.  No dense, daunting text here.

In short, all of us communicators – speakers, writers, advertisers, journalists, ministers, professors and sales and marketing professionals – can learn from their example.

If you want to create intriguing headlines, insights and essays that pass Sam Horn’s Eyebrow Test®,  you can.

Purchase a copy of POP! and discover for yourself why it’s been sold around the world, featured on MSNBC, FastCompany and Business Week and hailed as the best source for crafting content that captures and keeps interest in what you have to say.

http://www.amazon.com/POP-Create-Perfect-Tagline-Anything/dp/0399533613/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1335718015&sr=8-1

Do you have any favorite Readers Digest memories?  Let’s hear them . . .