How NOT to Stand Out in Any Crowd
January 20, 2012
Featuring an interview with Sam Horn, author of “POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd”
I’m Good … Maybe Great!
You, your product, your service, your company, is good … maybe great. It’s different, unique, totally rad, awesomeroo and bloggerific. It even (occasionally) delivers real business value; makes an authentic difference in business or life.
But … no one has heard of you.
You’re one of a kind. You know it. You can prove it. But still, you’re one of a kind that no one knows. No one has ever heard of you. You haven’t even heard of you.
You Haven’t Even Heard of You!
Not for lack of effort though.
You’ve tried to communicate your brilliance, your stupefying, heart-stopping differentiators, your value-laden proposition power pack, but your message gets sucked down the black hole of no return. The dreaded ….
Inbox Out of Control
By “inbox” I’m referring to your mental inbox as well as work inbox.
You can’t seem to break through … to stand out in this infoglut world 2.0 where the speed of light has finally been surpassed (though Einstein said it wasn’t possible, he was never bombarded with electronic corporate gobbledygook) by the cumulative effect of spam scud missiles, instant messages, BlackBerrys, mobile apps, blogging, etc.
Even though you know why you’re different − why you’re special − you can’t capture someone’s attention unless you communicate it so brilliantly it shines and stands out. Everyone gets it instantly. But standing out is getting harder … and easier every day.
Harder because the sheer volume of marketing messages an average person sees a day is almost beyond measure. It used to be that the average American was subjected to 3,000 marketing messages a day − 3,000 marketing messages a day!
Those were the good old days.
These days, you see that many before noon.
Harharharhar. Just kidding. I lied. Just threw that in to obfuscate. It’s not getting easier. Sorry. And it won’t get easier. But, with the proper approach, you can reach your goals and …
Are there strategies and tactics that can help you break through and stand out? To capture customers’ and prospects’ attention, hearts, minds and …. (ahem) money?
“Money, which represents the prose of life, and which is hardly spoken of in parlors without an apology, is, in its effects and laws, as beautiful as roses.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
We’ll find out from professional speaker and author of “POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd,” Sam Horn. Sam’s books have been endorsed by such luminaries as Stephen R. Covey , Jack Canfield, and Anthony Robbins. But none communicates the essence of the book with such eloquent intellectual simplicity as the testimonial below.
“As a person who once used a sparking Barbie doll to set fire to a pair of underpants on national television, I can vouch for the importance of standing out from a crowd. As a friend of Sam Horn’s, I can also vouch for the excellent advice she offers in POP!“
– Pulitzer-Prize winning humorist Dave Barry
But First (and it’s related) … POP!
Donkey quit. My Donkey quit.
Just like that – POP – several years of collaborating and co-writing went up in smoke. No more “Shoot the Donkey” stories.
Success had gone to his
donkey head. (I won’t comment on the lipstick … but I have heard rumors.)
After a series of successful articles that included:
He decided he could make it on his own.
A Donkey in His Own Write
He wanted to be his own donkey and write his own book. That’s right, his own book. He didn’t tell me about this until he was almost done.
I took it in stride.
But then decided I wanted (needed) to try to save our relationship. We went to counseling. But every time I brought up “Shoot the Donkey” …
It was just too painful. Counseling didn’t work.
When I realized he was determined to quit no matter what, and move on with his donkey life, I decided to do the right thing. Try to help him (later I needed some help myself). Donkey’s book was almost done. It was a compilation of lessons he’d learned from humans. I offered him my help in marketing the book, but Donkey said he didn’t need it.
I’d done enough already.
Ready to Break Through, Stand Out, and Go to Market!
My Donkey already had the plan and his book title,
When he showed me the draft, I really didn’t know what to say without hurting his feelings. Except that as much as he’s been around corporate business-speak, he ought to know that if the book was successful, someone would turn the title into an acronym, and well … that might turn out a bit crappy.
Donkey discounted that and quickly pointed out that his full name was prominently featured on the cover (unlike his collaborative efforts with me where we was known only by his first name … Donkey).
And why was this important?
Well, according to Donkey O’Tee, all great, memorable names and slogans incorporated the person’s or company’s name.
“Oh, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, that is what I truly wish to be.
‘Cause if I were an Oscar Mayer wiener, everyone would be in love with me.”
He was going to use a similar strategy – though he quite hadn’t figured it out yet − to market his book.
Oh, I wish I were a Donkey O’Tee wiener, that is what I truly wish to be … be … be.
I asked him if he knew what happened to weiners (hot dogs)?
Donkey was horrified. He quickly moved on to his next example, from the insurance industry. He asked me if I knew …
“You’re in Good Hands with …”
”Allstate, of course,” I answered. But, I didn’t think that would work for him either.
Didn’t ring, resonate or POP! Not to mention the hoofs vs. hands issue.
“But what,” I asked,” is your book really about?”
“You don’t know? You can’t tell by the title? It’s the “Idiot’s Guide to Business Survival.” It’s my elevator spiel. I mean you humans excel at making the simple complex, the complex unknowable, and the unknowable entertainingly hilarious! And, you do it was such pompous profligate proliferating panache that to succeed in business today, even to keep your job, you need to know how to excel at …
“Pompously Obfuscating on Purpose?”
Yes! You see … a bestseller in the making!” said Donkey O’Tee. “Go to any business website, read any business report, letter, brochure, advertisement or marketing message … it’s totally obvious. To survive in the human’s business world today, you have to be able to …
“Pompously Obfuscate on Purpose.” I echoed with dismal dismay.
“Less is not more! Less is out of a job. More is less. More is needed all of the time. More of more and less of less, more or less!” brayed Donkey O’Tee hilariously. “And … I‘m going to get all kinds of media coverage, you know why?
“You heard that song by the famous female songwriter Bonnie Braitt?”
“You mean Bonnie Raitt?
“No, You having trouble hearing? Bonnie Braitt.”
“I’m going to give them something to bray about!”
For once, I was speechless. Though Donkey had made some excellent points, I still felt duty-bound, nonetheless, to seek out some expert advice on his behalf. For Donkey O’Tee to succeed, he had to stand out (and not just in a field) to capture national and international media attention.
I Am Sam Horn I Am
Sam is a professional speaker and author of “POP! Stand Out in Any Crowd.” Sam is also the author of several well-reviewed books from major publishers including “Tongue Fu!®,” “ConZentrate,” “What’s Holding You Back?,” and “Take the Bully by the Horns.” These have been sold around the world (China, Japan, Argentina, France, and Germany); favorably reviewed in dozens of publications including Publishers Weekly, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Investors Business Daily, Foreign Service Journal, and Readers Digest, and endorsed by many best-selling authors including Stephen R. Covey, Anthony Robbins, Jeffrey Fox, Susan Jeffers, Dave Pelzer, Susan Forward, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Richard Carlson, and John Gray.
Steve: Welcome. I have this friend. He’s writing a book and needs to learn, well …
Sam: To … learn how to break out instead of blend in?
Steve: You’ve got it. What is POP!, and why is it important?
Sam: POP! is a system of 25 techniques I’ve developed that can help ANYONE create attention-grabbing titles, taglines, and tell ‘n sell descriptions for their company, cause, campaign, and creation. It’ll let them break out instead of blend in.
POP! is crucial to success because people today are BB.
Sam: They’re BUSY. They have hundreds of things competing for their attention. They’re BORED. They’ve heard and seen it all – or at least, they think they have.
“My own business always bores me to death; I prefer other people’s.”
- Oscar Wilde
What that means is, we have 30 seconds to get their favorable attention. If what we have to say and sell is not Purposeful, Original, or Pithy, they’re on to the next thing.
Purposeful. Original. Pithy. In 30 seconds or less.
Steve: In 30 seconds or less?
Sam: Make a long elevator speech short by Cliff Noting it into one sentence. The more you try to explain what you do or what you have to offer, the more confused people will become.
“My grandfather invented Cliff Notes. It was, well, … to make a long story short.”
- Steven Wright
Instead of going on at length, compare your job or offering to something with which people are familiar and fond. For example, I was in Denver, CO with my sons for a speaking engagement. We had the night free, so I asked our hotel concierge to suggest a fun place we could go.
He said, “You’ve got to go to D & B’s.”
We were from Maui at the time and had no idea what he was referring to. We asked, “What’s D & B’s?”
He said, “It’s a Chuck E. Cheese for adults.”
Voila. We knew exactly what it was and wanted to go there because of his perfect “Cliff Notes” description.
Steve: I get it. (See how purposeful, original, and pithy my responses are?)
“Operator! Give me the number for 911!” – Homer Simpson
Sam: In the book, this is called “The Valley Girl Technique.” It provides specific ways to compare what you do to a popular movie, song, book, or person to create a tell’ n sell elevator intro that gets your project’s foot in people’s mental door.
Steve: How do you come up with a memorable name or slogan? (I didn’t tell her about “Pompously Obfuscate on Purpose” yet because, though memorable it may be, it’s in an infamy kind-a-way.)
Sam: One of the best ways to make your name or slogan memorable is to use alliteration. Alliteration is when words start with the same sound. It makes your language lyrical, makes you instantly eloquent, and gives peoples’ minds a hook on which to hang a memory.
Say these words out loud.
Bed, Shower, and Toilet
Steve: Now I’m hungry, sleepy, jiggy, and have to go …
Sam: They don’t POP! do they? They sound commonplace, and they’d be difficult to remember.
Now say these words out loud.
Bed, Bath, and Beyond
Hmm … they fit together, don’t they? Alliteration produces “ear music,” which has a nice ring and resonance, which means your brand name will linger longer in peoples’ minds.
Produce “ear music” with a nice ring and resonance and … your brand name will linger longer in peoples’ minds.
Steve: To stand out, you almost have to be one of a kind, or at least be perceived that way. What’s one of the best ways individuals and organizations can become one of a kind instead of one of many?
Sam: The best way to become one of a kind is to coin a word for your business, brand, or book that belongs to you and you alone. One way to do that is to use one of the 25 POP! techniques called Alphabetizing. Write down ten words you frequently use to pitch your project, product, or program. Those are your “Core Words.” Now, run each of those words through the alphabet, changing the sound of the first syllable to match the corresponding letter. I used this technique to create the trademarked term of Tongue Fu! – the verbal form of Kung Fu!
Tongue-Fu: Martial Arts for the Mind and Mouth
Tongue Fu! is martial arts for the mind and mouth. If you run Tongue Fu! through the alphabet, you come up with even more variations.
- Fun Fu! is how to handle hassles with humor instead of harsh words.
- Run Fu! is for when Tongue Fu! doesn’t work.
- Tongue Glue is knowing when to keep your mouth shut.
- Tongue Sue! is for lawyers.
- Young Fu! is for kids.
These proprietary phrases could become articles, chapters in a book, or presentations for targeted audiences.
See how this works? Instead of competing with everyone else, your one-of-a-kind term turns you into the go-to resource because YOU are the sole provider of that particular item.
“If lawyers are disbarred and clergymen defrocked, doesn’t it follow that electricians can be delighted, musicians denoted?” -George Carlin
Steve: What’s one POP! technique anyone can use to help their ideas and offerings break out instead of blend in?
Create a Half and Half Word
Sam: Use what I call a Half and Half Word to go to the head of the class and become THE topic expert on your product or profession.
That’s what Dr. Francine Kaufman did by naming a cultural phenomenon that was taking place in the medical world. She noticed that more and more children were coming into her office diagnosed with diabetes. The link between diabetes and obesity had been known for years, however, no one had linked them in language until she did by coining the term Diabesity. By creating a one-word name for this condition, she got an impressive book deal and quickly became THE topic expert that media called first for interviews.
You can create your own Half and Half Word by getting a fresh piece of paper and drawing a vertical line down the center, dividing the paper into two columns. Now, start describing the different aspects of your cause, company, creation, or campaign − putting half the words on the left and half the words on the right.
For example, if you were opening a fusion restaurant that combined a mix of ethnic foods, you could write common words from one culture on the left and popular phrases from the other culture on the right. Now, take the first half of a word on the left and match it with the last half of the words on the right. Then take the first half of the next word on the left and match it with the last half of the words on the right, and so on. Keep playing with different combinations until you come up with one that POP!s – ala Ciao Mein, the perfect name for an Italian-Chinese bistro.
Steve: Got it. Piece of cake.
“I know that you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.” – Robert McCloskey
Steve: What are a couple of laugh-out-loud examples of products that POP!d off the shelf because of their catchy name?
Sam: Here are a couple of my favorite examples of products that POP!d out of the pack because of their catchy names.
Diddle Daddle Piddle Paddle With a Saddle.
“I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.”
- Oscar Wilde
A father liked to get down on all fours and give his toddler a “horsy-back ride” around the living room, but his son kept falling off. So, he invented a human saddle he could cinch around his waist that had a safety belt so his son could ride to his heart’s content.
What to call this? Run “saddle” through the Alphabet and what do you come up with? That’s right. DADDLE.
Smitten by Smittens
A couple liked to go for a walk after dinner, but they lived in the Northeast and would freeze their fingers when it snowed. They created a co-joined mitten they could both put their hands in so they could keep their hands warm on their wintry walks. Their clever name? SMITTENS.
You may be thinking, “So what? Do catchy names really drive sales?”
You bet it does.
Those clever products were featured in humor columnist Dave Barry’s annual December columns which feature interesting products that have been brought to his attention by his many fans. His column is syndicated in hundreds of newspapers around the country, which means MILLIONS of people now know about Daddle and Smittens.
Steve: Last question. (I pulled a draft of Donkey O’Tee’s book out to show her.) I’m going to run the title of my friend’s book by you. Could you give me your immediate response? If it POPS! or not?
“Anyone who afflicts the human race with ideas must be prepared to see them misunderstood.” – H. L. Mencken
Steve: “Pompously Obfuscate on Purpose.”
“This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.” – Dorothy Parker
Silence. Pretty deep silence. Complete silence one might say.
“From the moment I picked up your book until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.”
- Groucho Marx
Steve: It has purpose. It’s original. It’s sorta pithy.
Sam: Ahem. It’s not quite the POP I’m talking about. More like how NOT to stand out in any crowd.
Steve’s face droops, deleteriously depressed for donkey.
Sam: However. It is something I’m writing about in my next book.
Steve’s face perks up. Visionaries – Donkey and he.
About Sam Horn
Sam is a respected author of well-reviewed books from major publishers including “Tongue Fu!®,” “ConZentrate,” “What’s Holding You Back?,” and “Take the Bully by the Horns,” all from St. Martins Press. These have been sold around the world (China, Japan, Argentina, France, and Germany); favorably reviewed in dozens of publications including Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, Investors Business Daily, Foreign Service Journal, Dallas Morning News, and Readers Digest, and endorsed by many bestselling authors including Stephen R. Covey, Anthony Robbins, Jeffrey Fox, Susan Jeffers, Dave Pelzer, Susan Forward, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Richard Carlson, and John Gray.
Sam is a frequent media guest who has been interviewed on every major network (NBC, ABC, CBS, and FOX) and on dozens of radio shows including National Public Radio and Dr. Laura. Her work has even been featured on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” and “To Tell The Truth,” where she and her Tongue Fu!® team stumped the panel.
Sam Horn, Author/Speaker/Consultant
Office E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
E-mail Sam Horn at email@example.com
About Donkey O’Tee
He’s good looking.
And knows it.
… just ask him.
Has his own high-fashion clothing line?
Well, he is an …
Do you need to know anymore after that? really? Thankfully Sam Horn pulled it out for me . Do you have any idea how hard it is to co-write with a multilingual, fuzzy-faced, happy-hoof Honorary Harvard Scholar?
So …. he quit writing with the Donkey. Now Steve co-hosts a radio show and models Kilts in his spare-time.