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13 Ways to Create a Catchy Marketing Concept

by Marcia Yudkin

"IRS Statistics confirm Batmen and Robins Outpacing Lone Rangers."

That's the headline of an article in Home Business Magazine that caught my eye some time back. I'll bet it arouses your curiosity, too. The phrase "Batmen and Robins" denotes business partnerships, while "Lone Rangers" means solo practitioners. According to the Internal Revenue Service, from 1994 to 1995 the number of partnerships grew by 5.8 percent, while solo proprietorships increased only 2 percent in the same time frame.

Compare the more factual headline, "Business Partnerships Growing Faster than Sole Proprietorships, Says IRS." That has much less power to pull you into the article.

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Magazines and newspapers treasure talented headline writers, but the skill of creating a catchy concept is valuable and accessible to business folks as well. Captivating expressions can help you win attention in ads, media releases, brochures, billboards, your company newsletter or verbal self-introductions. Here are a few brainstorming aids to help you think them up:

  • Do any classic Hollywood story lines, such as The Comeback, The Big Break, Hero Risks All, match events at your company?

  • How about stories from the Bible or Greek mythology? (David vs. Goliath, Noah's Ark, Hercules' trials, Pandora's box)

  • Try exaggerating what some take to be a negative characteristic, as in Rent-a-Wreck or Call-a-Nerd.

  • Make a surprising promise: "Our new invoicing procedures will lower your blood pressure, or your money back."

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  • Can you call something your customers generally don't know a secret? ("Mysteries of marmalade making revealed.")

  • Try a twist on a familiar saying or clich, such as "Faster than a speeding bike messenger," for a company that has worked out an innovative way to exchange information electronically.

  • Concoct a group your clients might want to belong to: "How to join the Zillionaires Club."

  • Link key words associated with your business with a rhyme, such as in "We help Web debs," or "Books worth another look."

  • Take even further a metaphor already in use: "Here are the latest hatchlings on our incubator floor of offices."

  • Does your own name suggest an amusing pun? Publishing guru Dan Poynter calls his customer newsletter "Publishing Poynters."

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  • What is it that your clients are trying to avoid when they hire you? Turnaround specialists might be portrayed as "Bankruptcy Busters."

  • Put a twist on the image of a government program - "Our Zero Tolerance program for software bugs."

  • What's the secret fantasy of your customers? "Done Yesterday" matches perfectly the wish of those hiring an errand service.

Test any concept you think is smashingly clever. If people of normal intelligence don't get it, toss it out or modify it.

A friend had me scratching my head when her nicely designed newsletter invited me to contribute a "B.F.O." I reread, pondered, wondered whether that might be a takeoff on "U.F.O." and finally noticed a headline running vertically along the left margin of the paper: "Brilliant Flashes of the Obvious." Most readers won't spend more than a second trying to decipher something like that!

Copyright 2000 Marcia Yudkin.  All rights reserved.

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