“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.

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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 . . .

“Winning begins with preparation.” – Football coach Joe Gibbs

A client, who was an executive for a Six Sigma organization, was preparing for an important medical conference. If he did right by his audience, he and his organization stood to win millions in contracts.

The problem?

Have you ever been to a medical conference? Most everyone there is brilliant.

Unfortunately, that brilliance doesn’t always translate to the platform.

The programs are often highly technical and everyone’s power-point slides are packed with facts, numbers, complex case studies and graphs. Lots of graphs.

Furthermore, my client was speaking on the last day. At that point, participants’ eyes were going to be glazed over.

I kept asking him questions about his personal interests to see how he could pleasantly surprise his audience, in the first minute, with something they didn’t expect.

Something startlingly relevant that would get their eyebrows up.

Something that would quickly convince them he was worth their valuable time and mind.

I asked if he had any hobbies.

“Sam, I’m on the road 5 days a week. I don’t have time for hobbies.”

“Hmmm. Do you and your wife ever do anything for fun?”

“Well, sometimes we watch TV.”

“Aha. Any favorite shows?”

“Well, we like to watch Law & Order.”

Bingo.

I now knew how he could title and format his presentation so it captured and kept interest – from start to finish.

Guess what that title was?

FLAW & ORDER

And yes, he featured the signature image on his power point slides and the iconic “Dda-dum” tone to reveal his important points.

The point?

He had his audience at hello.

They thought, “Wow, we haven’t seen this before. Tell us more.”

Best yet, he kept this intriguing theme throughout his presentation. At the end, he was surrounded by participants giving him their business cards and requesting more information on how they could work together.

He had proven to these decision-makers they could trust him to prepare in advance and deliver intriguing, relevant insights and recommended actions that were relevant to their needs.

How about you?

Are you preparing for an important presentation?

If so, you can start by asking yourself the following questions.

That will kick-start your preparation process.

Then, if you want to POP! your presentation and stand out from the crowd; contact us at Sam@SamHorn.com to schedule a complementary 15 minute appointment.

We’ll discuss your upcoming communication, including your goals and the audience’s needs.  We’ll explore how we can work together to tailor a presentation that positions you to walk in with confidence because you’ve done everything possible to prepare yourself for a win-win experience.

Sam Horn’s W5 Form for a Presentation That Passes The Eyebrow Test

Want to get your audience’s eyebrows up?

Clarify your W’s so you can customize your communication in advance and make it relevant and intriguing for that particular audience and situation.

Filling out this form can help you walk in with confidence because it will be clear you’ve done your homework and you know what you’re talking about.

That will help engage and impress people in the first 60 seconds. They’ll be motivated to give you their valuable time and mind and they’ll be inspired to care about what you care about.

Who?

Who are you communicating to? Who’s the person you’re trying to connect with, convince or persuade? Describe that person so vividly we can SEE them in our mind’s eye.

Give enough detail so we get a sense of what they look like, what they’re feeling, where they’re coming from, why they might be resistant, and how they feel about us. Man? Woman? Age? Mom of 3? CEO? Tired? Impatient? Angry? Perfectionist? Skeptical?

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What?

What do you want this person to think or say at the end of your communication? What’s your objective? What would make this communication a success? What do you want this person to start, stop or do differently? Make this measurable (“I want them to schedule a follow up meeting by this Friday.”) rather than vague or sweeping (“I want them to like me.”)

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Where?

Where will this communication take place? Will you be speaking in a boardroom, ballroom or your boss’s office? Will you be meeting someone at a bark park or ball park?

Will they be reading your copy online? Will you be talking on the phone, plane, elevator? Is this at a trade fair, networking function or business luncheon? At a 5 star hotel? U.S.? China?

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When?

Will this be at 4:30 pm on a Friday and everyone’s impatient to get out the door? 1:30 pm after a big lunch and everyone’s sleepy? 8 pm and people are tired after a long day? April 15th when people are focused on taxes? January 1st and people are thinking about New Year resolutions?

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Why?

Go a sentence deeper. You’ve already identified your goals and what you hope to achieve … but WHY? You hope this company hires you SO you get to work for a business you believe in where you’re getting paid to do work you love? You want this company to donate $10,000 to your non-profit BECAUSE then you can give scholarships to 10 students? You want a more compelling elevator speech SO you feel more confident meeting new people at conferences?

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Good for you for taking the time to fill that out. Your clarity about the W’s will help you customize your communication so you’re better able to quickly capture the favorable attention of your group.

Now, either get a copy of my book POP! so you can make your insights and examples more compelling or contact us at Sam@SamHorn.com so we can help you tailor this presentation so you capture everyone’s interest in the crucial first 60 seconds.

Is your business not as successful as it could be? Not as profitable as you’d like?

Perhaps your company is committing one of the 8 Cardinal Sins of Branding.

#1 Branding Mistake Businesses Make:

Marketing Messages are Way Too L-O-N-G

Did you know the top ten marketing slogans (as selected by Advertising Age magazine) of the last fifty years are ALL under 7 words long?

Why? The mind can only keep 7 bits of information in short term memory.

If your marketing slogan is longer than that, chances are people can’t remember it. And if people can’t remember your name and slogan, why will they hire you, how will they find you, recommend you?

Follow the example of winners Nike (“Just do it”), Avis (“We try harder”) and Wheaties “(Breakfast of Champions”) and keep it brief so people don’t give you grief.

Comedian Jonathan Winters said, “I have a photographic memory. I just haven’t developed it yet.”

Most people don’t have a photographic memory. If you want your branding message to stick, develop a marketing message that’s easy to remember . . . which means keeping it under seven words.

Check back in two days and I’ll post #2 Branding Mistake Businesses Make.