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You know what? That’s an excellent question. And it’s my duty as an informed member of our society to check this out, with my very own eyes, and render an opinion.
So I click the link.
This in essence is the tactic Huffington Post has been using to get people to open their “news” stories. Stories with headlines like:
HuffPo has become so indispensable to news reporting that Conan O’Brien, hosting the 2013 White House Correspondents dinner, pointed to the Huffington table and said, “Oh hey, HuffPost is here. Wait, if you’re here, who’s covering Miley Cyrus’ latest nip slip?”
Yes, it is true that HuffPo produces very little content with solid news value. It is also true that these headlines work. It gets people to click through, literally and figuratively, and pay attention. Just as great headlines always have. Consider the New York Post, a wildly-entertaining gossip paper with great sports coverage. Check out this montage of front-page headlines the Post has written during the Anthony Weiner scandals.
Along with being absolutely priceless, they are a fine example of an ever-more-important art – getting people’s attention in a world that is ever-more saturated with media. They are also the kind of information that you and your business are competing with.
You compete with Wayne Gretzky’s daughter
That’s right: Paulina Gretzky is one of your toughest competitors. Whether you’re in retail, government, financial services, health care, mining or whatever other field is totally irrelevant. Because there’s only so much room in our brains for media messaging. You’re competing with Anthony Weiner and Kim Kardashian too, not to mention the world’s largest ad buyers – Procter & Gamble at $3-billion in 2012 alone, GM at $1.6-billion, L’Oreal at $1.5, Toyota at $1.2; last year $15.5-billion was blown by just the top 10 spenders.
All of them own significant parts of our brains, leaving less space for the rest of us to get hold of.
So how to break through?
It starts not with a great headline or key message, but with a great story. I visit the websites of many potential clients as part of my work, and the headlines and taglines I see most often say, to paraphrase:
“We’re good at what we do.”
“We are professional.”
“We have great customer service.”
These statements tell me something right away: that the company has not thought seriously and systematically about what unique value it offers – about what it does better than anyone else. Because statements like these are “table stakes.” Any customer reading these messages will say “So what? At a bare minimum, I expect you to be good at what you do, to be professional, to have great customer service and to care. If you can’t deliver on those things, there is no chance I’ll do business with you.”
Only after an authentic brand story has been articulated can a great headline, tagline or key message be written:
Why Are Women So Camera-Shy? (Dove)
Your customers are fascinated by titillation, but they are also fascinated by great stories. Tell yours.
With thanks for research done by Coin Marketing Coordinator Suzanne Fu.
BOOK: Brand: It Ain’t the Logo is now available at all TARGET stores in Canada.
NEW: interview on CBC Radio One about unhappiness with Microsoft Windows 8
TV: BNN interview re. Lance Armstrong’s brand (starts at the 3:30 mark, after the ad).