Today our pick of the week for a Must Read Business Book goes to Sam Horn, a highly respected business consultant, keynote speaker, and author. Sam’s latest book is POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd. Sam’s corporate clients include NASA, Hewlett-Packard, Four Seasons Resorts, Legg Mason and numerous others.
Sam’s latest book has been endorsed by Seth Godin, Ken Blanchard, Jeffrey Gitomer and Mark Victor Hansen and numerous other marketing and publication leaders.
In our interview she talks about why she wrote the book and how gaining any business, entrepreneurial, or venture capital success depends on whether you capture your target audience’s interest in the first sixty seconds.
Check out the 2006 POP! Hall of Fame!
NH: Hi Sam! Thanks for interviewing with me! Tell me about the purpose behind this book?
Sam H: The whole point of the book is to introduce new ideas that people haven’t heard before and I wrote it because my heart broke for all these people coming to Maui Writer’s conference and they did not know how to best pitch their manuscripts, which meant they weren’t getting as much interest in them as I knew they could have, if they had been taught HOW to pitch. So what I realized is that quality is important but it’s not enough.
People are busy and we have about 30 seconds to get their attention.
NH: That’s with everything in business right?
Sam H: Yes, you can have all these great things in your business, but if you don’t have a slogan or a clever name your progress is going to be hindered. The whole point is we want to be one of a kind, instead of one of many. We want to stand out of the crowd, instead of in the crowd. We want to break out, instead of blend in.
NH: How would you describe POP? (Purposeful, Original, Pithy)
POP is not just clever word play, it is the difference between suffering in obscurity and being catapulted into the spotlight.
NH: What are some ways to determine if your brand is working for you?
Sam H: #1 — See if it passes the eyebrow test. When you tell people your name or give your elevator speech, do the listener’s eyebrows go up or do they furrow? If the eyebrows furrow or nit it means they don’t get it. If people are confused they will not ask for clarification. When we tell people what our services are and what we do, if there is frustration and confusion in their eyebrows you need to work on your elevator speech.
It’s a visceral response; it is just a result or action to the brand or elevator introduction and it’s very telling.
#2 — Ask the people to repeat what you just said about your elevator speech. If they don’t get it, how are they going to refer you?
NH: What are some tips for people to boost their market branding?
Sam H: Come up with an airtight sound-bite, memorable money phrase. For example, movie directors know that if people walk out of the theater repeating one of your movie’s lines, it will be profitable. Think “You Can’t Handle the Truth, ” or the “I’ll be Back”, that’s all free promotion, it’s buzz. We want to make sure that people are repeating our slogans.
It’s interesting to note that all of the last slogans for the last 50 years are less than 7 words. Wendy’s is “Where’s the beef?, Nike’s is Just Do it. The key is to have people recall your names.
If we care about our business and we want it to break out then we’ll recognize the power of a great title or slogan that gets people to check us out.
NH: Great insight! Are there are other tips?
Sam H: I is for Iambic meter — if you put it in a beat, you make it easy to repeat. Why can kids remember the words of songs, but not their history lessons? When you put things in a meter it really aids recall. I also stands for inflection — and inflection makes a big difference. Like “Let’s get ready to rumble”.
Rhyme is sublime. One of most iconic phrases of the last 50 years was “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” There’s power of putting your slogan, your title, your brand so that it clicks in the mind. I call it “Tell and Sell”. With your marketing copy or your web page or even a table of contents of a book, it’s not enough to tell people what it’s about. It needs to be a “Tell and Sell.” We have to explain it in a way they get it and a way they want it.
If people want to give their business a brand that works, that helps them stand out — make sure it’s an airtight sound bite. Even if there are hundreds or thousands of businesses like yours, no one will have that crafted of a brand which will be the difference between you being overlooked.
NH: What else makes a brand stand out?
Sam H.: Give it an edge. “To believe is boring, to doubt is intensely engrossing,” said Oscar Wilde. In marketing copy, you want to look at what are you saying that flies in the face of current wisdom. Where will you dare to address an elephant in the room that everyone else tips around?
The book He’s Just Not That Into You is a good example of this.
NH: How does a company come up with new branding ideas?
Sam H: Start talking to your customers or potential customers and they will tell you what they want you to brand about. Poll your customers: What brings them in? What keeps them coming back?
Those features are what you build your branding around. When we ask our customers, “What are you worried about and what brings you in?” and they tell us then, it is absolutely essential that we feature what our customers find most compelling about our brand.
When we say what customers are saying, it resonates with them and they relate to us because it assures them we know where they’re coming from. You have to be in alignment always with your customers. We’re drawn to people with whom we have someone in common.
NH: Great insights Sam! Thanks for taking time out to interview. And we’ll be sure to check out your POP! Hall of Fame 2006 winners, including Peyton Manning!