“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.

A client asked me on Friday, “What are the purposes behind choosing a book title that works – for all the right reasons?”

I told her, “Good question. There are 7 things we’re going for with our non-ficiton book title. A winning business or self-help book title and sub-title should:

1. Stop people in their tracks and grab their attention because it doesn’t blend in with all the other books on the shelves.

2. Address a problem you’re facing, a need you have, or a benefit you want.

3. Contain strategically selected key words that bring your title up high in online search so people “googling” that subject find your book annd website.

4. Promise real-world, actionable deliverables – what readers will stop, start or do differently as a result of reading your book.

This is why many sub-titles have metrics in them. When readers see 7 Steps, 12 Keys, 30 Days, 10 Ways; they conclude the book will give them replicable recommendations and tangible results.

5. Tease or engage readers with a NURD (new word), provocative concept or visual allusion that gets their eyebrows up and causes them to reach for the book as they think, “Hmmm, that’s interesting, I want to know more”

Think Freakonomics and Blue Ocean Strategy.

6. Feature alliteration or rhyme so the title rolls off the tongue and stays in the mind.

You can test the memorability of your title any time you want, for free. Just tell people your title and ask them to repeat it. If they can’t repeat it; they didn’t get it. And if they didn’t get it; you won’t get the sales, clients or media.

And yes, alliteration and rhyme can be annoying if overdone so run your title by your brain trust first to make sure it’s not cutesy or an over-the-top eye-roller.

7. Contain no superfluous words. As Strunk and White said, “Every word must tell.”

In fact, you may have noticed a trend in business books these days.

Many feature a one word verb.

Drive by Dan Pink

Blink by Malcolm Gladwell

Switch by Chip and Dan Heath

Nudge – Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein

Sway – Ori and Rom Brafman

Roar by Kevin Daum

POP! – Sam Horn (had to throw that in)

Linchpin – Seth Godin

When you do this right, like Seth Godin did with Tribes and Malcolm Gladwell did with The Tipping Point, you coin a NURD (New Word) or an iconic cultural phrase that everyone adopts when talking about that issue and it becomes part of our vernacular.

This makes your book an evergreen because people become your word-of-mouth advertisers and keep you and your topic topc-of-mind.

As someone who has helped thousands of people craft the right title for their book, I know there is an art and science to titles and sub-titles.

In my next blog, I’ll share 3 examples of brilliant non-fiction titles and sub-titles that are paying off, big-time, for their authors and publishers.

I welcome your recommendations and submissions. What’s your favorite non-fiction title and why?

“It’s not overly dramatic to say your destiny depends on the impression you make.” – Barbara Walters

What a treat it was to wake up and find that Ian Ayres had written a Freakonomics – NY Times blog called Pitch Me Your Day.

In it, he featured a video clip of National Public Radio’s Ira Glass talking about the art of story-telling – along with a link to a previous blog he’d done about me and POP!


In this fun blog, (Go Ian!), he makes the piont that “it never ceases to amaze me how few academics can succinctly describe a take-home point of their research. When we ask one another, ‘What are you working on?’ we’re really saying ‘Tell me a story.’ When someone tells me he’s studying network neutrality or the right to privacy, I yearn to say, ‘you’re ‘wasting my time.’”


We’ve got 30 seconds, max, to make a positive first impression in our presentation or pitch.

One of the best ways to do that is to use the two words “For example.”

As soon as we say those two words, people’s attention perks up because they think, “Now, it’s going to get interesting. Now you’re going to quit with the gobbledy gook and illustrate your idea with a real-life situation I can see in my mind’s eye – something I can relate to.”

For example, (see?) . . . in our BOOK IT event at USA Today headquarters on Friday, I shared the example of a writer who was not getting any interest in his book.

Why? His description was all over the map. At the end of his pitch, no one was interested because they didn’t “get” his work. And if people don’t “get” what we do, they won’t want what we do.

So what did Wally do?

Wally doused for whales. He would put a sonar device in the ocean off Hawaii until he heard a pod of humpback whales. Then, he claimed not only to be able to listen to their “conversations,” he claimed to be able to communicate back and forth with the whales.

Many of the agents and editors thought he was one taco short of a combination plate and were not about to give him a book deal.

I spent a few minutes working with Wally and suggested we use a POP! technique called the Valley Girl technique. I asked, Wally, “What song, movie, person or book are you like – with a twist?”

He thought about it for a moment and said, “Well, I’m kind of like Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer.”


Wally became The Whale Whisperer.

That short, easy-to-relate-to-and-remember brand name and pitch got people’s eyebrows up (a sure sign they’re intrigued).

So, what do you say when people ask, “What are you working on?”

What’s your pitch for your book, cause or project?