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names and taglines that will attract new business
by Robert Middleton
you need to create interest in your services to
stand out in the crowd? It involves more than just
telling people about what you do. You also need
to communicate your unique talents and abilities
in terms that are meaningful and compelling. Because
word-of-mouth is lifeblood, you want to describe
your business in ways that are easy to remember
and pass along.
probably been told that it's a good idea to develop
a business name, tagline, elevator speech and headlines.
But even after having worked on these things for
hours, you may find that they're not bringing you
much new business. Read on to learn about techniques
you can use to create marketing messages that hit
home and expand your reach.
|In 1976, Oxford University
biologist Richard Dawkins wrote a book called "The
Intelligent Gene" in which he introduced a new
concept to the history of culture: memes (rhymes with
"seems"). A meme, Dawkins said, is much
like its biological cousin, the gene. Like a gene,
a meme is self-replicating. However, memes don't replicate
biologically; instead, they are passed along in the
form of ideas. Dawkins argued that memes are the "basic
unit of cultural transmission." He wrote: Examples
of memes are tunes, ideas, catch phrases, clothes,
fashions, ways of making pots, or of building arches.
Just as genes propagate themselves in the gene pool
by leaping from body to body via sperm or eggs, so
memes propagate themselves in the meme pool by leaping
from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad
sense, can be called imitation.
Now jump ahead twenty years and to another book called
"Rapid Response Advertising" by Geoff Ayling,
an Australian advertising expert. Ayling builds a
strong case for the use of memes in marketing and
advertising, arguing that the meme is the missing
piece of the marketing and advertising puzzle. "A
meme," he writes, "operates through the
process of chunking complex concepts or ideas down
into a simple, easily communicable unit." Likewise,
marketing messages can be constructed as memes to
communicate the benefits of a product or service more
quickly and easily. After reading Ayling's book, I
realized that I had long been using a marketing meme
to introduce my service: "I help service businesses
attract more clients." When I explain my work
that way, I frequently get an immediate "Oh!
That's what I need!" response. I've used this
tagline for years, but I never really understood why
it worked so well. The idea of marketing memes gave
me the key.
| A marketing meme always accomplishes
four things. It actively transfers specific information.
It's immediately and obviously beneficial. It's ultra-simple.
And it's easy to remember and pass along to someone
else. When all of these elements are in place, marketing
memes work like magic.
Imagine this: I'm at a party and I've just used my
marketing meme to answer someone's question about
what I do for a living. For whatever reason, they
don't need my services, but they understand immediately
what I'm about. Half an hour later, that same person
drags a friend over to me and says, "You should
talk to Sarah here -- she needs to attract more clients."
Bingo! This has happened to me countless times.This
is why it's smart to apply the meme idea to virtually
any marketing message -- people will understand you
more quickly, and as a result, you'll attract more
attention, interest, and response. You don't have
to worry about zippy slogans or phrases. Strive for
clarity, simplicity, brevity, and a description of
benefits -- all wrapped up in a few words (or a combination
of words and images). Great marketing memes make a
direct and memorable connection.
|What a Marketing
Meme Is Not
|It may be easier to understand a marketing
meme by looking at what it is not. A meme is not a
goofy slogan, nor a clever play on words. Ever see
a headline on a billboard that totally confused you?
That's a dead meme -- there's no replication. Memes
should never confuse. They should clarify and elucidate.
When it's a meme you say, "I get it!" When
it's not, you say, "Huh?" Let's look at
a recent example, a billboard from IBM: two automobile
tires in profile, with two ThinkPad portable computers
in profile inside the tires. The headline: "ThinkPad.
Road Trip." Huh? Sorry, Big Blue, but that's
not a meme. What's the message? It's not immediately
obvious or beneficial.
Here's an eTrade billboard that's much better: "This
month, someone's going to win the lottery. Just not
you. eTrade." Bingo! Without having to figure
anything out, you get the message: "I'd better
stop wishing and start investing." Like a good
joke, it hits home immediately. Headlines, taglines,
and other marketing messages aren't necessarily memes.
Sometimes they're just clever phrases, or they're
so general that they communicate very little useful
information. "Overnight Delivery" isn't
much of a meme. On the other hand, "When it absolutely,
positively, has to be there overnight" helped
make FedEx a billion dollar business. Your challenge
is to create memes for your business that communicate
the benefits of your services just as powerfully.
A meme can be used any time you need to effectively
communicate what your business does. Remember, a meme
communicates quickly and easily, it highlights customer
benefits, and it prompts a response -- either immediately
or sometime in the future -- because it's so easy
A recent client, a personal organizer, was struggling
to position her business. I asked her to explain what
was special about her talent -- what made her different
from everyone else. She said that, unlike most organizers
who simply help people throw out their junk, she had
an eye for valuable items that could be sold for tidy
sums. Together, we developed a wonderful tagline that
said it all: "We find treasures in your clutter."
This meme has immediate appeal for anyone who wants
to get rid of clutter because it promises an added
bonus -- finding a valuable treasure or two that might
actually pay for her services.
There are several ways to use memes in your marketing.
You can use them in your business name. They're effective
in taglines, or in the audio logo (a short version
of an elevator speech) that you say out loud when
someone asks what you do. They're useful in the headlines
of ads, flyers, or letters, and in the titles of presentations
or articles. You might express each of these memes
in a slightly different way, but they all should communicate
a similar message with clarity and impact.
So how do you create a powerful meme for your business?
It's a bit of an art, but here are some guidelines.
First, ask the key question: "What do my clients
get as a result of using my services?"
Don't worry about the wording yet -- just brainstorm
to develop a number of sentences that capture the
gist of your key benefit. To broaden your thinking,
you might consider doing this with a group of friends
and former clients who are familiar with your work.
You might come up with something along the lines of:
"Our clients have problems with employee conflict,
and our services help reduce that conflict while building
cooperation and trust." There's a core idea in
there, but the expression is pretty long. Start breaking
it down to get at the essential ideas you want to
The next cut might go: "We reduce conflict while
building cooperation." This is better, but it
seems a little vague. The next attempt yields: "Reducing
conflict and building cooperation within organizations."
This is a bit snappier, but are we now trying to say
too much? The message here is about both solving a
problem and offering a solution. Maybe we should go
with one or the other. How about this as a tagline:
"Building cooperation within organizations."
It's simple, benefit-oriented, and easy to remember.
You've got a meme!
Once you've developed a meme, you need to take it
out for a field test to see if it effectively communicates
your core message. How can you tell? You know it works
when it elicits a favorable response -- when people
ask the right follow-up questions, and want to know
more. Here's the best way to try this out. When someone
asks what you do, say something like, "I have
a company called Working Diplomacy. We help build
cooperation within organizations." If people
say, "That's interesting! More companies need
that," or "You ought to talk to our HR director,"
there's a good chance you have a winner. If, on the
other hand, people say, "What do you mean?"
or "Why do companies need that?" you're
probably off track. If that happens, then it's back
to the drawing board.
Meme for a Test Drive
A meme isn't just a nice thing to have. It's the core
expression of your business. That's why you want to
use it everywhere you possibly can. Make it the tagline
for your business cards and stationery. Put it in
your email sig file. Answer the phone with it: Prospect:
"Hello, I hear you folks do conflict management"
You: "Yes, we help build cooperation within organizations.
Is that what you're looking for?" Remember: the
whole idea of a meme is to help prospective clients
understand how you can help them. With a little work,
anyone can create a powerful meme for their business.
It all starts with a core question: What are the results
you produce for your clients? Next, hone it down to
a memorable phrase. (Make it as simple as possible.)
Finally, apply it to all your marketing messages.
The most effective marketing messages describe the
benefits of your services in ways that are simple,
straightforward, and easy to remember. There's an
art to developing good business names and taglines.
Begin by writing down a few sentences that describe
the core benefits your business provides. Break down
those sentences to capture the bare essentials. Once
you've got it, flaunt it! Incorporate your name and
tagline into your business cards, stationery, and
email sig file. When people ask what you do, answer
with a conversational version of your core marketing
|By Robert Middleton of Action
Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert's web site
for additional marketing articles and resources
on marketing for professional service businesses.
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