Tag Archives: words

10 Rules For Great Taglines

TaglinesA tagline or a slogan is a phrase (for example, “Just Do Itâ„¢”) intended to get “stuck” in prospects’ heads. The tagline should be short and memorable, like a great piece of haiku.

The following are my rules for creating great taglines:

  1. Don’t be “cute”. Cute often is seen as “cheesy”.
  2. Do focus on the benefit to the customer.
  3. Don’t repeat any of the words in your company’s name.
  4. Do spend time with a thesaurus.
  5. Don’t use more than 7 words (human short term memory limit).
  6. Do use short words.
  7. Don’t use well-worn phrases.
  8. Do use an emotion word to invoke the benefit (pain, pleasure, safety, etc.)
  9. Don’t think a tagline replaces good marketing strategy.
  10. Do ask your existing best clients what they think of your tagline.

The best way to get something to “stick” is to capture your potential customer’s problem and pain and show the solution. Don’t write a tagline from the perspective of how great you are – no one really cares.

Let’s say I’m looking to hire the best Realtor that I can find to sell my house. I’m looking for someone who: has a proven track record, is a great listener, is a great negotiator, and can get me a great deal. Period.

I filter every Realtor that I meet against my list. Which of the following Realtor taglines would be most likely to appeal to me?

  • Your Realtor With Heart
  • Finding Your Dream Home
  • Your Realtor For Life
  • I Know Your Neighborhood
  • The Hardest Working Realtor You’ll Ever Meet
  • Selling Homes Is All I Do

Words That Work

Words That WorkHave you ever wondered how to make people react to what you say? While some people are better crafting words than others, this book shows how the pros do it. Written by the person responsible for crafting the words for the political parties, this book gives rules for effective wording.

Dr. Luntz doesn’t come up with his ideas in a vacuum. He uses focus groups and instant response dial sessions. Ideally, focus groups are (pre-screened to be) homogenous – people reveal their innermost thoughts to people like themselves. The problem with a focus group is that a dominant person can get bully others. A dial session is more personal; everyone in the group hold a wireless dial device which they turn to reflect how much they feel positively or negatively about what they are seeing. The dial session also gives everyone equal input. Both sessions can be recorded and scientifically analyzed. However since a dial session can be larger, you get better data to base your decisions.

Here are his rules:

  1. Simplicity: Use small words.
  2. Brevity: Use short sentences.
  3. Credibility: People have to believe it to buy it
  4. Consistency: Repeat (even it it bores you to tears).
  5. Novelty: Redefine an old idea.
  6. Sound: Rhythm matters.
  7. Aspiration: Say what people want to hear.
  8. Visualization: Paint a vivid picture.
  9. Questioning: Rhetorical questions require personal responses.
  10. Context: Why is this message important?

An effective message must be in alignment: the message, messenger, and recipient must all be “on the same page”. A perfect message delivered poorly isn’t as valuable. Neither is the right message for the wrong audience.

For example, which phrases are better:

  • “drilling for oil” or “exploring for energy”?
  • “estate tax” or “death tax”?
  • “personalization” or “privitization”?
  • “free market economy” or “globalization”?
  • “foreign trade” or “international trade”?
  • “health care choice” or “the right to choose”?
  • “deny” or “not give”?
  • “private accounts” or “personal accounts”?
  • “Washington” or “Government”?

Your message must first educate people (to the problem you’re solving). Then, provide them information about the problem. Finally, you motivate them to solve it.

Saying that you’re using “common sense” solutions gets people to agree sooner.

Don’t sell services, sell solutions.

His ideas have many applications: in your correspondence, marketing, advertising, and presentations. He even provides ways of using language to help you in your personal life: How to avoid a ticket (apologize), How to say you’re sorry (with flowers), How to ask for a raise/promotion (future goals), How to write an effective letter (start strongly), etc.

“People forget what you say, but they remember how you make them feel.” – Warren Beatty

P.S. – Other great business words to use/avoid are listed in Selling For Dummies (Tom Hopkins):

Don’t Say Say
Contract Paperwork, agreement, loan
Cost or Price Investment, amount
Down payment Initial investment, initial amount
Monthly payment Monthly investment, monthly amount
Buy Own
Sell or Sold Get them involved, help them acquire
Deal Opportunity, transaction
Objection Area of concern
Problem Challenge
Pitch Presentation, demonstration
Commission Fee for service
Sign Approve, endorse, okay, or authorize

How To Tell Your Marketing Story

Tell Me A StoryWe are wired to tell, read, and listen to stories. A great story gets you to feel as if you were in the story: your senses are engaged, your curiosity is piqued, and your adrenalin is flowing.

Marketing is basically the art of telling a story. Simple stories include:

  • I had no money. I did this. Now I’m rich.
  • I was a loser. This product changed me into the winner I am today.
  • I had no clients. I figured out a great technique. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing.
  • Boy meets girl. They live happily ever after.

A compelling business story causes the listener to contact the business owner for more information or to make a purchase.

You must deliver the story convincingly. When you tell the story in person, make sure that your voice, tone, tempo, eyes, and body are enhancing your story. If you’re telling the story in print, online, or on television, use images to reinforce the words and reduce the length of the story.

You have different stories for different people. Since one goal of a story is to make the listener feel part of the story, the story needs to “fit”. Carefully consider who you’re telling the story to.

Your story has an arc. Think of a classic fable. It no doubt fits the standard framework: every day… until one day … and then … and then … and ever since then …. For example, in Watty Piper’s The Little Engine that Could:

A little railroad engine was employed about a station yard for such work as it was built for, pulling a few cars on and off the switches. One morning it was waiting for the next call when a long train of freight-cars asked a large engine in the roundhouse to take it over the hill “I can’t; that is too much a pull for me,” said the great engine built for hard work. Then the train asked another engine, and another, only to hear excuses and be refused. At last in desperation the train asked the little switch engine to draw it up the grade and down on the other side. “I think I can,” puffed the little locomotive, and put itself in front of the great heavy train. As it went on the little engine kept bravely puffing faster and faster, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can”.

Your story includes concrete details. Details allow the listener to visualize the story and engage the senses. Instead of a refrigerator, say “a white, side-by-side ‘fridge, with an ice dispenser in the left door and a wheeze that you can hear when the compressor is working”. Add appropriate details.

Your story is personal. Instead of retelling someone else’s story, it’s better to tell something that happened to you (or that you personally witnessed). A personal story builds trust in the teller.

Your story needs a clear purpose. Ideally, you want to teach the listener in a way that they can validate the message them self.

Your story is easily repeated. Viral marketing is nothing more than people passing along a story that they liked. Make your story memorable and ideally, easily summarized.

Great stories aren’t accidental. You need to practice telling the story. You need to get feedback to make your story effective. Learn from others’ stories.

When you sincerely tell your personal story effectively, you’ll have lots of curious customers wanting to find out more about you and your business.

Persuasion: The Art Of Getting What You Want

Persuasion: The Art of Getting What You WantDave Lakhni’s book describes the fine line between the art of persuasion and manipulation (Dave was raised in a cult – he’s well-studied in manipulation and has applied his knowledge effectively in business.) While a manipulator attempts to get you to do something you wouldn’t normally do, a persuader tries to get you to choose them over the competition.

A business that’s simply trying to say “pick me” would be using persuasion. A business that’s trying to convince you that your life isn’t complete without buying something from them is manipulating.

Having someone detail the steps to persuade is a bit creepy, since they are using psychology to cause a change in someone else (rather than use it to understand yourself). However we all know that without clients you have no business.

The core of his book is his formula:

Position + Presentation * Influence = Persuasion

Position is the combination of your persona (your background, clothing, grooming create a savior mentality), your audience (how well-matched they are to what you’re selling), and the content of your story.

Presentation is how you tell your story (rapport, familiarity, words, props, relevancy, non-verbal cues, and image of success)

Influence is the psychology behind the presentation (time-sensitive, like-ability, trust-building, confidence, and accountability).

The business gem in book is the “Persuasive Advertising” chapter. Using the techniques in the book, he shows how to craft a story that’s well-targeted and has a moral to cause the reader to take action. It’s more than simply the USP/UVP (unique selling/value proposition) – it’s the USP/UVP with a persuasive story.