“I never metaphor I didn’t like.” – Richard Lederer, NPR’s A Way with Words

In the previous blog, we talked about the importance of having FUN while pitching.

If you’re not having fun; trust me; your audience isn’t having fun.

Now for the second letter in F.L.A.I.R. that helps investors care.

L = LINK

“The quickest way to help decision-makers connect with what your business does is to compare it to something they already know and respect.” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert, pitch strategist and author of POP!

Jan Bruce of New Life Solution is already a successful entrepreneur having developed meQuilibrim (talk about a business name that POP!s).

She has a compelling “backstory.” After selling a business to Martha Stewart for millions, for some reason, Jan didn’t feel as happy as hoped.

In fact, as she told our group, she wondered, “Why am I feeling so bad when I am doing so well?”

This prompted a quest to figure out what was going on.

Jan’s research revealed that “stress is the new ‘obesity.'”

It’s reached epidemic proportions and is costing companies billions and compromising people’s health.

She’s developed an “online, guided, self-help progam providing interactive education, behavior tools and peer support on a scalable basis.”

HUH?

See, that’s the problem.

That sentence describes what her business does – but we still don’t get it. And if we don’t get it, SHE won’t get it.

That’s where LINKING comes in.

Comparison provides a shortcut to comprehension.

A metaphor or analogy that links your unfamiliar business to something with which we’re familiar (and fond) fast-forwards our understanding.

Jan knows this and excels at it.

What’s her elevator intro for her business?

“New Life Solution is like Weight Watchers for stress.”

OOOHHHH. Got it.

Are you pitching an idea or venture?

What is it LIKE? Link your new idea or venture to a proven entity your decision-makers respect to turn confusion into clarity.

Believe me, an intrigued “ooohhh” is a lot better than a confused “huh?”

Want to know what the A in F.L.A.I.R. stands for? Keep reading.

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Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action Part 3,

By Sam Horn, The IntrigueExpert

This is the final post detailing the excellence in action that Guy Kawasaki demonstrated during his keynote for Ruth Stergiou’s Invent Your Future Conference in NoCA.

Guy Kawasaki Genius in Action Part 3, By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

Guy Kawasaki Genius in Action

Actually, there were many more things Guy did extraordinarily well . . . however these blog posts are already long enough.

Want to know what I suggest? Go see Guy in person if you have a chance.

I am a firm believer that our personal and professional impact is directly proportionate to our ability to communicate compellingly and convincingly.

If you’d like to turn no’s into yes’s – if you’d like to win buy-in from the people who have the power to scale your career, buy your products or services or support your message and mission – do yourself a favor and study great communicators like Guy (on the stage) and Seth Godin (on the page).

Then, adopt and adapt (don’t copy) their masterful approaches so you too know how to capture and keep everyone’s attention and respect – from start to finish.

7. Guy featured a kaleidoscopic mix of reference points.

“Let’s give em something to talk about.” – Bonnie Raitt

Hmmm. Let’s see.  Grateful Dead. Check. Steve Jobs. Check.

Personal examples. Professional examples. Check. Check.

United States anecdotes. International anecdotes. Yep.

Fortune 500 success stories. Small business success stories. Yep. Yep.

Some speakers commit the cardinal sin of focusing solely on a few “favorites.” sports. Kids. Corporate life. That leaves some people out. They may not like sports, don’t have kids or work for themselves.

Guy gave everyone something to “talk about.” By using a wide range of “demographically-correct” reference points, he made sure everyone felt included, honored and acknowledged.

The eclectic mix kept us eager for what’s next. Novelists call this a page-turner. The speaker equivalent is a “seat-edger,” as in, “We were on the edge of our seats the whole time.”

One of the most effective ways Guy modeled this was by using “pulled from the headlines” or “signs on the street” slides to prove his points.

For example, he mentioned he was just in New England checking out colleges with his kids. To illustrate how “disenchantment” can be caused by overcomplicating things, he popped up a Smartphone photo showing a sign from an Ivy League university campus that went into great detail on how to . . . (wait for it) cross the street.

Embedding his point in a recent, first-person story lent instant credibility to his case because it had currency. This isn’t
tired shtick – it just occurred yesterday or last week.

And he did this with EACH of his points – providing a “couldn’t see it coming” reference that explored the point in a compelling, convincing and creative way.

If you’re about to give a presentation, go back over your planned remarks. Double check that you have balanced gender, age, ethnic, work-life, geographic and industry diversity.

And, hold up a prop! Make it show not tell. Sharing an article from THAT day’s newspaper that’s relevant to your topic will charm your audience and turn “blah-blah-blah” into “rah-rah-rah.”

8. Guy was in his “Tony Bennett” zone.

“I have found if you love life, life will love you back.” – Arthur Rubenstein

Have you ever had the distinct privilege of seeing and hearing Tony Bennett in concert? If not, do yourself a favor and grab a ticket for his next concert in your area.

Tony Bennett is the consummate entertainer. Not just because he has a voice like “butta” and not just because he’s a great song stylist.

It’s because Tony Bennett LOVES HIS AUDIENCE . . . and isn’t afraid to show it. When singers (or speakers) love what they’re doing, we love ‘em back.

Tony may have sung I Left my Heart in San Francisco a thousand times but you’d never know it. He gifts each audience by singing that song as if for the first time.

What many speakers don’t understand is that our audiences will feel the way we feel.

We won’t have fun if you’re not having fun. If you’re not happy to be up there – we’re not happy to be down here.

We want speakers who welcome the opportunity to add value and who show up fully present with an unapologetic, unabashed personality.

Too many speakers dread speaking. I remember attending a book-author event in Washington, DC , where a famous actress who’d just written a memoir got up and said, “I rather be dead drunk in a gutter than standing up here speaking to you today.”

Yikes. How do you think that made us feel?

Guy brought his A game and his whole self to the party. Guy was in his body, in his element and in the moment. And when speakers invest themselves 100%– we feel lucky to be along for the ride – because it’s a great ride.

9. Guy replaced wah-wah information with real-world WWW stories.

“The world is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of stories.” – Muriel Rukeyser

Actually, as explained in a recent Newsweek cover story entitled Brain Freeze, the world is not made up of atoms; it’s
made up of information. And we’re drowning in it.

We don’t want more information. We want epiphanies.  And we don’t get epiphanies from wah-wah information. We get them from “WWW” stories” that vividly portray Who, Where and What was said.  WWW stories are pulled from real-life – NOT from the internet or from your colleague’s books.

If we wanted stories from the Internet or from your colleagues
books – we’d go online or go buy those other people’s books.

When you speak, we want to hear what you think, what you have experienced, what you have gleaned. And we want you to re-enact those lessons-learned so we’re in the room with you as they happened.

We want you to make your story our story by putting us in the story. You can do this by putting yourself back in the moment
and place it happened and describing:

WHO? Describe the individuals involved with specific physical and emotional details so we can SEE him or her in our mind’s
eye and know what’s going through their mind.

WHERE? Put us in the room, on the plane or in the pool (or as Nancy Duarte – author/speaker on Resonance
did so vividly in her keynote that day – put us on Half Dome). Make us a fly on the wall so we’re standing right next to you.

WHAT WAS SAID? Re-create and re-quote the dialogue so it’s as if it’s happening right NOW.

For example, Guy shared a story where he was speaking for a client in South America and realized, shortly before his talk, that he had a washing machine made by this manufacturer.

Understanding this was an “enchantment opportunity,” he quickly texted his sons and asked them to take a picture of the family washing machine and send it to him so he could incorporate it into his program.

Here’s where Guy got it right (yet again.)

Instead of just mentioning his sons sent him the photos – he put up a slide that showed the actual back and forth texting from his sons. He talked us through the chain of events and turned it into an unfolding mystery that brought it alive and brought it home. Guy’s message had the ring of truth – because it was true. Kudos.

10. Guy created the exquisite state of entrainment.

“What did the meditation teacher tell the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything.” – poster in yoga studio

Have you ever experienced that lovely peak performance state of flow?

If you’re an athlete, maybe you were immersed in your golf, tennis or basketball game and played out of your head (literally and figuratively).

If you play an instrument, perhaps you lost yourself in the music and weren’t even aware of the passage of time.

If you’re an artist or author, the world slipped away and you were completely absorbed In your painting, dancing or writing.

That flow sate – when we are one with what we are doing – is also called “entrainment.”

And Guy created it. There was no shuffling in the seats. No checking of watches or email. We got swept up in his world.

Everyone who’s experienced this state of flow knows it is a powerful and persuasive high. Everyone was bliss-fully entrained– or as Guy calls it – enchanted.

As The Intrigue Expert and author of POP!, ConZentrate and Win Buy-In, I have studied the art and science of entrainment for the past 20 years.

What I have learned is that while we can’t force it, we can facilitate it.

The ten ingredients above all combine to create entrainment.

The good news is, you can too.

Yes, Guy is a master at what he does. The good news is that speaking eloquently and “intriguingly” is a skill that can be acquired. I know this because I’ve helped many entrepreneurs and executives create more compelling, convincing communications.

We can all get better at this because these are replicable steps.

Do you have a presentation coming up? Use these 10 points as a checklist while preparing your communication so your audience will be seat-edgers.

Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything in 60 Seconds

Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything in 60 Seconds

1. Have us at hello by leaving out the parts people skip.

2. Engage everyone’s head and heart with facts and feelings.

3. Condense your concepts into one-of-a-kind sound bites.

4. Have the courage to be counter-intuitive.

5. Honor your family, mentors and contributors.

6. Use the power of three to create oratorical flow.

7. Feature a kaleidoscopic mix of reference points.

8. Get in your “Tony Bennett” zone.

9. Replace wah-wah information with real-world WWW stories.

10. Create entrainment by getting in the flow.

If you do these things, your audience will care about what you care about. They’ll be engaged and enchanted from start to finish. You will have delivered substantive value and they’ll be more likely to buy into and act on your ideas and initiatives.

And isn’t that a primary reason we communicate?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert, and author of POP! and Win Buy-In, is an award-winning communication strategist who’s worked with clients including Cisco, Intel and NASA.

Her work has been featured on NPR, MSNBC, BusinessWeek.com and in Readers Digest, the Washington Post, New York Times and Investors Business Daily.

She helps people crystallize their strategic, signature message and get it out of their head and where it can make a positive difference for others and a profitable living for themselves. . www.SamHorn.com Sam@SamHorn.com

Every year, INC Magazine selects the 5000 fastest-growing entreprneurial businesses in the country and honors their owners with a 3 day conference featuring world-class thought leaders.

I was a featured speaker at this year’s event at the brand new Gaylord Resort on Washington DC’s waterfront, along with Jim Collins, Seth Godin, Tom Peters, Tim Ferris and other bestselling business authors.

I started off my presentation – POP! Your Business and Brand — with my INC. 5000 POP! Hall of Fame. These companies all have attention-grabbing names that have helped them POP! out . . . for all the right reasons.

Some of these business names are Purposeful: they say exactly what the company does — such as Just Like Sugar – $46 million in revenue in 5 years and Bill Me Later – who wouldn’t want that?!

Some are Original: they elicit a smile or make our eyebrows go up because we haven’t heard them before – such as SkullCandy which specializes in audio headsets for snow boarders and skateboarders.

All of them are Pithy: they are concise and precise so they’re easy to repeat and remember — such as PowerPay which processes credit cards.

My three favorites?

KIDDOpotamus: They specialize in baby products, including the first non-rectangular swaddle blanket for infants. http://www.KIDDOpotamus.com

Bad Boy Buggies: They make an electric, all terrain vehicle that’s a cross between a golf cart and a monster truck. http://www.BadBoyBuggies.com

Furminator: They make grooming products for animals including a brush that dog-owners can use to reduce their pet’s shedding. http://www.Furminator.com

Are you naming a new business, product or service? Do yourself a favor and give it a Purposeful, Original, Pithy name so it POPs out of its pack . . and maybe I’ll see you at a future INC. 5000 conference.

Check back next week for more tips gleaned from this insight-a-minute event.

Their Brand is Too Bland

“Only dead fish swim with the stream all the time.” – Linda Ellerbee

People are bored with same old, same old. If you pleasantly surprise them with something they haven’t seen or heard before, they’ll reward you with their business. How can you turn a “yawner” into somethng eye-opening?

By doing the opposite, not the obvious. Here are several ways to introduce something that is unique instead of duplicating what’s already available.

* Go where your competitors aren’t. Enterprise wanted to enter the car rental business but Hertz and Avis dominated the market. So, Enterprise asked themselves, “What do our competitors all have in common?” Well, they’re all situated by airports. Instead of competing with established locations, Enterprise put their rental centers in neighborhoods where they had the territory all to themselves.

* Offer a service your competitors don’t. What didn’t the other rental car agencies provide? No pick up or drop off service – so Enterprise was the first to offer to pick you up and drop you off at your hotel or workplace. This above-and-beyound service has resulted in Enterprise becoming one of the top three agencies in that multi-billion dollar industry because they successfully identified two specific P.O.D.’s – Points of Distinction.

* Turn your industry on its head. After 40 years of pounding our palms against the bottom of catsup bottles in a futile effort to get the slow-moving condiment out, Heinz had a “Duh” moment and turned its bottles upside down so they now rest on the cap (and let gravity work its magic.) Target did something similar with an upside-down Christmas tree with the pointy part on the bottom. Their reasoning? More room for presents! This novel product generated tons of press and be-the-first-on-your-block-to-have-one sales.

* Be an UN. Ask yourself, “How are all my competitors alike? How can I be UN-like them?” This is what 7-Up did. Instead of going head to head with Coca-Cola and Pepsi, it offered an alternative to all the dark soda pops and became the UN-Cola.

* Reverse an industry norm. In the 60’s, Detroit auto-makers were turning out large, luxury automobiles. So, Volkswagon went small. They figured there were consumers who didn’t want or need a station-wagon or a four door, so they introduced the “Bug,” a two-door for budget-minded people (e.g., college students and young adults).

Volkswagon didn’t stop there. They capitalized on their P.O.D. in self-deprecating ads that turned their small size into a proud, viable option to gas-guzzlers. One full –page ad featured 75% blank space with a tiny Volkswagon Beetle in the center with a one-sentence caption that said, “It makes your house look bigger.” Kudos.

They’re Content with a Common Name

“When you can do a common thing in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world.” – George Washington Carver

Sure, you can call your business The Nail Place — or you can call it Texas Chainsaw Manicure. Guess which salon attracts clients from around the world because people read about it in a magazine or saw it featured on TV?

In the hyper-competitive meeting industry, Convention Visitor Bureaus have the daunting task of trying to convince corporations and associations to bring their meetings to their city . . . .when there are hundreds of other cities to choose from.

I had a chance to speak for MPI (Meeting Planners International), and met the Convention Sales Manager for Seattle’s CVB office in Washington DC. Stephanie told me Seattle hit the jackpot by coining an original brand – Metro-Natural -that’s generated a billion dollars (yes, that’s a b) in buzz and free publicity. That attention-grabbing term (what I call a Half & Half Brand in my book POP!) cleverly captures the dual nature of the city’s cosmopolitan yet park-like setting. Well done.

Want another example of the power of giving your business an uncommon name?

Jay Sorenson saw what everyone else saw – those cardboard insulating sleeves you put around your cup of coffee so you don’t burn your fingers– and turned them into a 15 million dollar a year business.

How? By giving a generic product a genius name – Java Jacket. Sorenson said, “That trademarked brand is worth more than our patents. It has such a dominant market awareness that people who meant to call our competitors call us instead.” That’s the power of giving a common product a catchy name that gets it noticed, remembered . . . and bought.

They Can’t Explain Their Brand in 15 Seconds or Less

“My grandfather actually invented Cliff Notes. It was in 1952, and he was . . .
well, to make a long story short.” – Steven Wright

Remember when Andy Warhol said everyone would get 15 minutes of fame? In today’s rush-rush world, we don’t have that long to get people’s attention. We have about 15 seconds.

If you can’t quickly explain your brand in a way people get it and want it, they will move on. They are simply too busy to give us “the time of their day” unless we can quickly convince them we’re worth their valuable attention.

That’s why it’s crucial to “Cliff Note” your brand’s story into a concise, compelling Elevator Speech that captures interest in what you have to offer . . . in under 15 seconds.

Sound like an impossible dream? Not if you link your unfamiliar brand to something with which people are familiar and fond.

The secret is not to try to explain your brand. The more you try to explain what your brand does, the more confused potential customers will become. Instead, ask yourself, “What is my brand like . . . that my target audience already likes?’

I learned the power of this concept while in Denver for a speaking engagement with my teen-aged sons. We had a night free, so we went downstairs to the hotel concierge and asked if he had any suggestions for a fun night out.

He took one look at Tom and Andrew and said, “You’ve got to go to D & B’s.”

We were from Maui at the time and had no idea what he was talking about. We asked, “What’s D & B’s.”

He did NOT try to explain what D & B’s was. Imagine if he had said, “Well, it’s kind of like a restaurant, but it’s also a sports bar and they’ve got video games and TV’s and sometimes guys go there to watch football or play pool. But families go there too to play carnival games, kind of like an indoor amusement park.”

We would have looked at him in consternation and said, “Huh?” It’s just TMI (Too Much Information.) The longer he talked, the more baffled we would have become.

Instead, he thought about it for a moment and then smiled and said simply, “It’s like a . . . Chuck E. Cheese for adults.”

Perfect. Eight words and we knew exactly what it was and wanted to go there. By comparing D & B’s (something new) to Chuck E. Cheese (something we knew), he “told and sold” their brand in one succinct sentence. They should have put him on commission.

Do you have an elevator speech for your brand?

Remember, don’t try to explain it. Ask yourself, “What is my brand like – that these potential customers like?” If you compare your idea, company, product or service to something with which they’re familiar and fond, the light will go on in their eyes and their eyebrows will rise. That’s the way to win buy-in in 15 seconds or less.

Want to know the other 4 branding mistakes organizations make — and how to avoid them? Keep checking this blog and I’ll share them in the days ahead.

Into instant gratification? Email us at info@SamHorn.com with “8 Biggest Branding Mistakes” in the subject heading and we’ll email you the entire article you can use in your organization’s newsletter.

The Third Worst Branding Mistake Organizations Make?

Their Brand Name is Hard to Pronounce

What do Google, Roomba, Boppy, Snuba and Yahoo all have in common?

They all are fun, easy-to-say-and-remember names that have made their companies millions.

What you call your business is hugely important. If people don’t immediately understand it, they’ll move on.

That’s why it’s crucial to coin a catchy brand name that stops people in their tracks and makes their eyebrows go UP.

What’s this about making people’s eyebrows go up? It is a tangible way to check the commercial viability of your brand name – anytime, anywhere, for free.

Simply tell people your name . . and watch their eyebrows. If their eyebrows knit or furrow, it’s back to the drawing board. It means they’re perplexed. And if people find your name perplexing, you’ve got a problem.

Why? People are way too busy to take the time to figure out something that’s confusing. If they don’t instantly get your name, YOU won’t get their business.

The Eyebrow Test is an almost infallible way to test market the appeal of your brand. When people are intrigued, their eyebrows go up. It’s a visceral almost involuntary indication of curiosity. It’s the mind’s way of saying, “Hmm, this is interesting, tell me more.”

Do people “get” your brand name the first time they hear or see it? If so, good for you.

If not, you might want to purchase a copy of POP! (which Ken Blanchard says is a “fun, lively guide to getting heard, getting results, getting remembered”) at http://www.SamHornPOP.com, and turn to Chapters 16-18 to discover how you can coin an easy-to-pronounce-and-remember brand name that makes eyebrows and sales go UP.