“Instant gratification takes too long.” – Carrie Fisher

Did you know . . . 1.8 billion vaccinations are given every year?

Did you know . . . half of those vaccinations are given with re-used needles?

Did you know . . . we are spreading and perpetuating the very diseases we’re trying to prevent?

Imagine if there was a painless, one-use needle that cost a fraction of the current model?

You don’t have to imagine it . . . we’ve created it.

In fact, if you look at this article . . .

So went the 60 second opening of one of my clients who used this pitch to convince venture capitalists to invest in her evolutionary product and business.

What’s the point?

Will you be requesting funding or proposing a new initiative in the near future?

How are you going to win buy-in?

What are you going to say in the first 60 seconds to motivate your decision-makers to look up from their Blackberry’s?

If you want people’s valuable time and mind, use the 3 techniques I’ve created and teach my clients to begin with to capture the favorable attention of their decision-makers in the first 60 seconds:

1. Open with three “Did you know?” questions related to the scope of the problem you’re solving. The goal is to elicit a startled “I didn’t know that” from your target audience. One of the ONLY ways to get busy people’s attention is to immediately tell them something they don’t know that piques their curiosity about something that concerns them.

2. Start your next paragraph with the word “Imagine” and use the oratorical “Power of Three” device to paint a mental picture of the ideal scenario. Identify three best-case characteristics of your solution so they’re impressed with the comprehensiveness of your plan, product or program.

3. Bridge to your precedence with the words “You don’t have to imagine it; we’ve created it. In fact, in this . . . .” Then, introduce irrefutable evidence – whether that’s an article, testimonial from a respected source or the actual product – so they SEE your offering as a done deal, not as a speculative venture.

The above techniques instantly engage your audience and cause them to care about what you care about.

Many of my consulting clients have used this compelling opening in their presentations/pitches and have reported back its power to win buy-in to their projects, products and programs.

Next time, you want to shake people out of their preoccupation and motivate them to give you their undivided attention – start your communication with:

1) three intriguing facts they don’t know about your idea, issue or initiative

2) the word “imagine” to paint a mental picture of three characteristics of your solution to this problem

3) the words “You don’t have to imagine it; we’ve created it” so they SEE and BELIEVE what you’re saying and want to hear the rest . . . of your story.

Earlier this year, I read an article in The Washington Post Sunday Magazine about a tanker that had caught fire 800 miles off the Hawaiian coast.

Fortunately, a cruise ship happened to be going by and was able to rescue the 11 crewmen.

However, as they pulled away, a passenger heard the sound of a dog barking. The captain’s dog, Hokget, had been left behind.

When the cruise ship got to Hawaii, the crew held a press conference. The captain said how grateful they were to be rescued, but all he could think about was his dog abandoned, alone, on the tanker.

The world mobilized. Emails and donations flooded in. $5. $500. $5000.

The U.S. Navy actually changed the exercise area of the Pacific Fleet to search the part of the ocean they thought the tanker might have drifted.

The Coast Guard dispatched a C-130. Miraculoulsy, after searching 50,000 square miles of open ocean, they located the tanker and flew low to see if there was any sign of life.

Sure enough, there was a brown-and-white blur racing frantically up and down the deck. The crew couldn’t land so they dropped their power bars, pizza and oranges so Hokget would have something to eat.

More than a month later, a quarter million dollar (!) rescue mission was mounted with the donations that had poured in from around the globe.

Against all odds, they were able to save Hokget and bring him back to Hawaii.

Here’s the question.

Why did people from around the world mobilize to save the life of one dog – when there are thousands of people in their own cities, states and countries who also desperately need food, water and shelter?

The answer, posits Shankar Vedantam, the author of the article, is something called THE EMPATHY TELESCOPE.

Simply said, we can put ourselves in the shoes of one person – we can’t put ourselves in the shoes of many.

Our mind (and heart) can’t comprehend mass numbers. It’s too overwhelming. Our mind shuts down. Our eyes look away.

One person (or dog) is doable – a magnitude of millions is not.

What does this mean for you as a communicator, business owner or non-profit leader?

Where is your dog on the tanker?

What do you care about? Your cause? Your company? A new idea? If you try to get people interested by talking about the thousands of people you serve or the millions of people who will benefit; it will be almost impossible for anyone to grasp the essence of your message. The numbers simply won’t equate.

It is far better to talk about ONE client you serve – ONE person who will benefit. Tell the story of that one person – who will act as a universal stand-in for everyone.

Now, your listeners, viewers and readers can relate. Now, they can PICTURE what you’re talking about.

Next time you’re preparing a sales presentation; writing a blog post or article; creating a fund-raising campgain or working on your web copy – keep this in mind.

Where is your dog on the tanker? Where is your Hero Journey story of a single person who has a problem or challenge; deals with it successfully and returns home triumphant?

Tell the story of that one person (or dog) so vividly; people experience it as if they’re there; as if it’s happening right now.

And yes, this can be done with integrity as opposed to being manipulative. The goal is to remember that sweeping terms will go over people’s head – in one ear, out the other.

If you want to win buy-in, use a single individual’s real-life example to engage your audience’s emotions and mind’s eye so they viscerally “get” what you’re trying to get across.

That will capture their imagination and intrigue your audience. Better yet, they will care about what you care about because they SEE what you’re saying.

Curious about what happened to Hokget?

Here’s the link to that article in case you’d like to know, (as Paul Harvey used to say) . . . the rest of the story. http://bit.ly/7tfBYN

Do you have a favorite example of an individual or organization who captured the interest and empathy of their audience through a “dog on a tanker” story?

I’d love to hear it.

Tip #3 on How to Develop a Strong USP: Be More Funny = Make More Money

“I learned that when I made people laugh, they liked me. This is a lesson I never forgot.” – Art Buchwald

Many entrepreneurs think their USP needs to be serious.

Not always.

As Art Buchwald learned, we like people (and businesses) who makes us laugh.

One way to stand out from your crowd is to get a chuckle.

Read your signage, webpages, advertising copy and marketing material.

Does any of it make people smile? If not, you could be passing up profitable opportunities to win buy-in from customers and decision-makers.

The highest-rated and most memorable Super Bowl ads are almost always the ones that get a laugh. Inject purposeful humor into your marketing material and you can turn smiles into sales.

For example, Coca-Cola won millions of new customers with their ad for Zero Coke that said, “Tastes so much like Coke, our lawyers have contacted our lawyers.”

Denver calls their wildly popular Halloween event Boo at the Zoo.

A website for pocket-protector types is called “Geek2Geek.com” and offers profiles like “Tall, Dork and Handsome.”

One reason popular online shoe retailer Zappos broke out was their smile-inducing ads that said, “You know those salespeople who ignore you when you want to try on or buy a pair of shoes? They don’t work here.”

Is your business holding a sale? Don’t be content to put up a boring sign that will get ignored. Advertise, “50% off — and that’s just the half of it.”

A local ice cream store that feaured square containers received a lot of questions about why they had square containers instead of round ones. They got some free smiles by putting up a sign that said, “Why do we have square ice cream containers? Because we don’t cut corners on the quality of our ice cream.”

One purpose of a USP – Unique Selling Proposition – is to give customes a compelling reason to choose you over your competitors. When people like you – which humor causes them to do – they are more likely to do business with you.

What are some of your favorite funny ads, commercials or marketing slogans?

I will feature the best entries in upcoming blogs. Whoever submits the best one receives an autographed copy of POP!