The Secret to Selling Your Brand With One Sentence

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You believe in the importance of your vision, but how do you get others to  stop and listen to you? There will be many instances when you don’t have a lot  of time to grab someone’s attention, be it a potential investor or a licensee. That’s why you need to be able to summarize the benefit of your  business idea in a single, powerful sentence — a sentence that is so direct and compelling,  it stops whoever reads or hears it dead in their tracks. A good one-line benefit  statement should make someone think: “I want to know more about that.”

I’ve learned that if I craft just the right sentence, it’s all I need to get  people to listen to my pitch, open my emails and answer my calls. I still remember the  day the iPod launched and Steve  Jobs called it “a thousand songs in your  pocket.” Wow. That’s captivating. He didn’t have to explain any further. We  wanted it already!

People don’t care about how something works.They want to know what it’s going  to do for them.

Newspapers, tabloids, and these days, Twitter have been making use of the headline for years. How often do you find yourself  on a webpage you never intended to visit, all because a headline was so  tempting, you had to click on it? That should give you an idea of what I’m  talking about. Creating excellent one-line benefit statements isn’t an easy  skill, but it’s an important one, because it can be used to explain your idea in  so many different kinds of situations in an attractive, successful way.

Sometimes, you only get one chance to make an impression. Cut through the  clutter to make it count! Here three ways to create an awesome one-line benefit  statement:

1. Make it emotional. Why should people care about what  you have to say? Grab them with something they can relate to. Benefits sell  ideas, not facts. What is your idea going to do for the consumer or the world?  Don’t be afraid to use emotion. People are motivated by their emotions more  often than they are motivated by reason. Emotion also evokes visual imagery —  if people can begin to see your idea, that’s a good thing. Some emotional words  include: “free”, “incredible” and “unbelievable.”

2. Keep it short. Like — really short. I’m talking no  more than 10 to 12 words, ideally less. Remember, you don’t have much time. If  your statement is too long, people may move on before they’ve even finished  reading or hearing it. Don’t be intimidated by using fewer words. This is a  really good exercise in general. Too often, I ask an inventor or entrepreneur to  tell me about his or her idea and I’m overwhelmed with a five-minute speech.  “What is he talking about again?” I find myself thinking. I’m not even sure.  Brevity forces clarity.

3. Use numbers. Numbers convey specificity. Look around  you. Headlines with numbers dominate our world. One has only to look at Buzzfeed to understand the power of numbers.

Here are some examples of one-line benefit statements my students and I have  used with great success in the past:

  • “The most versatile organization system available.”
  • “The store all, carry all, go anywhere  elevated pet feeder.”
  • “This label will increase space on your  packaging by 75 percent.”

Try out potential statements on everyone you know. Which one has the greatest  impact? Ask for feedback. Then, start using this line all over the place. When  someone asks: “So what is it you’re working on again?” you will have a great  answer! – Stephen Key

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The No. 1 Reason Business Ideas Fail and How You Can Avoid It

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I have a friend who has a steady stream of ideas — both great and hair-brained. A lot of times he comes up with viable new product ideas, but only occasionally stays the course required to bring the good ones to market. As a professional innovation consultant and brand developer, for me, this is like nails on a chalkboard.

Most recently, he brought me some samples for a chocolate eggnog he was developing. It was tasty, but the flavor profile needed tweaking and the packaging and marketing needed work. It had potential, if only he kept working on it. But the thought of having to continue in the development process was too daunting, or disappointing, or a combination of both, so he shelved the idea.

And that’s where a lot of inventors fail. They give up too soon.

There are four essential tenets of inventing and product development — especially once the rush of a great idea makes it from your imagination to paper or prototype.

1. Inventing is work that requires passion. Passion motivates us to persevere. Enthusiasm is essential to convince not only others of the worthiness of your ideas, but to convince yourself as well. You are going to have to do a lot of hard work before an idea reaches the point where a consumer realizes it’s exactly what they’ve been looking for.

Truly passionate inventors embrace the flaws in an idea, seeing them as pathways to workable solutions. Many aspiring entrepreneurs, however, are like my buddy, seeing criticism not as the starting point for revisions, but as red lights.

According to psychologist Martin Seligman, we can overcome pessimism by consciously developing our brain’s optimistic side using “self-talk” — a technique that involves actively disputing pessimistic assessments of our situation. This isn’t just a personal pep talk. It’s a rational and impartial way of looking at failure as temporary and fixable, which allows us to move on to new solutions.

2. Question everything. The moment you discover your idea is somehow not working can occur at any stage on the journey. Since I know this from experience, when a new idea pops into my head, I immediately start looking at all the negatives and potential challenges. I know if I uncover problems at the beginning and can solve them, there will be fewer obstacles along the path.

This habit can be frustrating to others who want me to just enjoy the idea, and not be so objective. But I can’t help it. I know that the myriad issues I have to tackle later will be lessened if I can eliminate other structural, marketing or packaging problems as soon as possible.

3. Trial and error is a good thing. There are times when you find you have to go one more round with an idea, create one more prototype, write one more description or marketing message and it just seems endless. You feel like the juices have stopped flowing. This is when you have to “act as if” and just sit down and do what needs to be done.

Going through the motions seems antithetical to creativity, but it’s really not. In fact, thinking — even seemingly “forced” thinking — does fire up our neurotransmitters, and what started out feeling forced may turn out to be your best work ever. Bottom line: push through the resistance.

4. There is no magic answer. Just as there is no one perfect way to live your life, there isn’t just one way to solve a creative problem. My friend, for example, could have gone in several directions with the flavor profile of his eggnog and more than one might have worked.

There are multiple ways to tweak a product to make it better. The one you settle on depends a lot on your purpose, audience and expectations. That’s why I advise innovators to make a product as early and as quickly as possible in order to let people play with it and offer useful user feedback.

Remember: Criticism shouldn’t invalidate your ideas. It should serve to strengthen them. If you really love your idea, you’ll be willing to listen, learn and pivot when necessary.

A Social-Media Marketing Primer Even Your Mom Can Handle

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Digital touch points are going to be a central part of almost any brand’s media plan. It’s important to understand how to navigate the digital world, particularly social media.
The problem is that keeping up with technology is a full-time job in and of itself. So don’t even try, just focus on the marketing part. Digital marketing is a small-business owner’s best friend, so while it’s hard to stay on the tech curve, you can still keep abreast of how to use digital marketing vehicles to your advantage.

 

In many cases, social media has become the brand experience where customers truly expect to connect. Because there are so many outlets available, don’t try to do it all at once. Start with the big sites first, see if they make sense for your brand, and then expand from there.

Get friendly on Facebook. With over a billion profiles it’s hard to neglect thinking about how to create a brand presence there. This is where friends, family, and your biggest “fans” come to listen to what you have to brag about. There is a cap to how many friends you can amass, so consider creating a public page that is limitless. Facebook is all about loyalty, so use it as a place to post pictures, give updates, promote new initiatives, or simply interact with your biggest fans. It’s one of the best outlets if you want to keep up with your most loyal customers with regular information they will be interested in. That is, of course, if your regular customers use Facebook, which is a simple question you should ask yourself before you begin any social media program.

Show your business savvy on LinkedIn. You will want to create a professional profile on LinkedIn to connect with all the people you’ve professionally come into contact with over the years. You can network with each other, share professional advice, and even recruit new talent. LinkedIn is all about work and working your network of colleagues.

Speak up on Twitter. Twitter is the place where you can exhibit thought-leadership in your field with others who share similar interests, whether you know them or not. It’s about having a voice in what you do, and paying attention to others who you admire. You can learn a lot about how to advance in your field of choice via Twitter.

Engage viewers on YouTube. For me, YouTube is all about pop culture. I use it to keep up with what’s going on in entertainment, which happens to be important in my line of work. If video content is something that works in your field, then consider starting a YouTube channel to create content for your customers. You can then feature this video content in your other marketing as well.

Give Customers a place to be on Foursquare. Foursquare is location-based, allowing users to “check in” to share their whereabouts or to collect special offers from local businesses. If your business relies on traffic to thrive, then Foursquare could be a good vehicle to build it.

Look pretty on Pinterest. Many brands are now just wrapping their heads around how to use Pinterest. If your customers are visually oriented and if your business can be captured in images, then consider using Pinterest to represent what your brand is all about. You can also learn a lot about your customers by viewing their Pinterest boards as well.

This is just a sampling of the bigger social media sites, and there are certainly others without a doubt. I recommend that you start with these, and then move on to others as you expand your social media presence. It’s important to use a few wisely and consistently, rather than racking up profiles that you don’t really leverage with your customers.

Also remember that any of these sites can be an effective tool to learn about what motivates your customers and about what your competitors are doing to connect with them. All of them provide “free” market research 24/7, because they are where your customers are living their lives and sharing what moves them. Learn from them!

By Jim Joseph, Author of The Experience Effect (AMACOM, 2010) and The Experience Effect for Small Business (Happy About, 2012)

The Future is Now – Humanize Your Product or Service or it Simply Won’t Sell

Future, Brand, Marketing, Culture, Selling, StrategyBrands often look to the future for clues on how to adapt to changing technology and culture. But much of what futurists say is coming can be acted upon today (e.g. human-centric branding).

To learn about what the future may bring to digital marketing, Dana Rousmaniere spoke with Gerd Leonhard, “one of the leading media-futurists in the world.”  Here are a few salient points from the from the discussion on the HBR blog of what this futurist envisions.

“You’re going to stop buying things from companies that don’t fit your values, just because you can’t see giving them the money.”

“All of the companies of the future will have one big job: to make sure that the customer feels cherished and safeguarded.”

“Data alone will never be enough. You still need to reach consumers on an emotional level. The bottom line for marketers will be that if a product or service isn’t humanized, it won’t sell – because buying something isn’t an intellectual process of saying “this could be useful”; it’s saying “I really want this.”

Why wait for the future to come?

I believe the future Mr. Leonard is painting is already here – or, at least his insights are ready to be put to use right now. Here’s how:

Make your brand, product, and services better fit with the needs, values, interests, and aspirations of people – so they can see the point of giving you the money.

Go beyond the concept of brand utility to brand feelings – make kick-ass products that solve problems AND do it in a way that make people feel cherished (valued, appreciated) and safeguarded (secure, protected).

Reach out on an emotional level – humanize your brand, products, and services in ways that break down barriers, encourage participation, and clear the path to decisions that benefit your bottom line.

Empathy, purpose, emotion – the keystones of success

Start with extreme empathy – put your business interests aside and come to understand what people are seeking on a very basic human level.

Embrace a purpose – one that takes your ambition beyond profits and shareholder returns and into the fertile grounds of meaning.

Create an emotional aura around your brand, product, or service – a unique set of emotions which make people feel gratified, which they readily internalize, and which influence the way they think, feel, and act on behalf of your brand – now and in the future.   – Jerry Holtaway, Emotivator Brand