I was talking with someone about creating a tagline for her business.  I asked her to show me what she’d come up with as possibilities.  She did.  Then I did the ‘Logo Test’ on her possible taglines.

John Jantsch, Founder of Duct Tape Marketing long ago came up with a great way to ‘test’ a core message or tagline for your business.

“Slap any competitor’s logo over your tagline. If it works, then you’re not more distinctive than any competitor . . . as your prospect sees things. You’re also no more likely to be memorable to your prospect, either!”

There’s an expression, “Saying something that appeals to everyone in general is appealing to no one in particular”.

Focusing on a ‘valuable benefit’ of interest to your target market is what you want to be doing.  But if that’s all you do, then you aren’t focusing on any unique selling proposition that can help you to be:

  1. valuable,
  2. distinctive, and (therefore)
  3. memorable

And isn’t that what a tagline is supposed to be?  Yes!  It’s a way to say something valuable, distinctive and valuable to your prospects, clients and centers-of-influence.

I understand you have a legitimate profit motive (and you must be in business for a profit or you’ll be working for someone else!).

That’s why I respectfully urge you to honor what is both:

  1. important to you / your passion and,
  2. attractive to a certain kind of prospect

who, all things considered, may consider your business to be THE ‘preferred provider’ in your category because they remember that you offer a good experience (like all your competitors claim, right?) AND ALSO a business that stands out for something that’s unique to you and meaningful to them.

“Me-Too” marketing — saying something any other competitor can say as your tagline — isn’t terribly difficult. You see it being done everywhere, everyday. It’s easy.  Too easy.


It’s just not distinctive AND valuable. Therefore, it’s not that distinctive and memorable.  And that’s not helpful to you, either.

I hope you weigh this advice to incorporate BOTH your passion in how you do business AND your unique selling proposition to your target market.

It will help you generate revenues AND profits and make it possible for more and more like-minded people in the future to see you as THE preferred provider in your category.


Scott Ginsberg has a calling. To be “That Nametag Guy”.

His mission is to help others be more approachable.  Why?  Because when you are, you are likely to be more successful.

Scott’s successful, too. Very, very successful!

What started out as a ‘happy accident’ — forgetting to remove his nametag after a meeting . . . has put him on a collision course with greatness.  The genius in his strategy was intentional, though.

If you’re seeking to understand the power of FOCUS . . . of dedication to a singular idea . . . check out Scott’s story below:


In a ‘me-too’ world, it pays to find a niche and . . . GO FOR IT!

I seriously doubt you’d want to promote the fact that your business was mediocre at best . . . and probably “Pretty sucky” at worst.

But that’s precisely what a hotel in Amsterdam, Holland is doing and . . . it’s doing quite well, thank-you-very-much!

If you’re in the hotel business, you’d think that’s got to be the worst review you could get, right?  WRONG!  It turns out the management of this hotel (The Hans Brinker Hotel) is delighted with that kind of review.

Why?  Excellent question.  And in the answer is a great lesson in marketing and positioning for YOU to apply to your business.

If You Can’t Be All Things To All People, Be Something Special to a Special Group
This is a fundamental truth in marketing your business or service.  Pick a niche.  Find a market segment.  FOCUS, FOCUS, FOCUS!!!

hotelThe Hans Brinker Hotel is probably NOT the ‘worst’ hotel in the world but, as Seth Godin wrote in his book ‘Edgecrafting’, there’s real value in being seen to be at the extreme edge of whatever you do.  In tough times, bargain-priced items and luxury-priced items do well.  It’s the ‘middle ground’ items that seem to suffer the most.  I’d argue that anytime you have a position that isn’t ‘edgy’ you’re going to be seen as ‘vanilla’ and your competitors will be ‘chocolate chips’ — they’ll stand out . . . against your business or service as a nondescript background.

Now apply that to the way a business is positioned . . . is presented to be something and, at the same time, something it’s not ever going to be.

Realizing that it could never compete on common metrics of Amsterdam’s luxury hotels, it went to the extreme . . . in the opposite direction.  With rooms suggesting a military barracks more than a hotel in a top European city, The Hans Brinker Hotel went for the ‘gold’ . . . where the gold is not typically found.

Knowing they would most easily and likely appeal to a decidedly ‘low-cost’ traveler, by accepting themselves, they also uncovered their ‘ideal’ market.  Namely, youthful college kids traveling through Europe with a backpack and only a (relatively) few bucks or guilders to spend on their nightly accomodations.

“Tell The Truth . . . It’s Good For Your Soul . . . and Balance Sheet”
By being truthful . . . that it’s not the MOST luxurious hotel in Amsterdam, The Hans Brinker Hotel gained a bizarre benefit . . . it’s actually more rather than less attractive to the very market it’s best designed to attract!

Students seem to relish the ‘bragging’ rights they get simply by having actually stayed at the hotel.  Probably like getting a merit badge in the Scouts.  Only more roughing it, apparently!  This is an essential key to viral marketing of the hotel and, as proof of the efficacy of this, many of the hotel’s guests first learned about it from their friends and other youthful travelers they met during their travels while in Europe.

If You Set Expectations Appropriately . . . People Don’t Get Upset With You
Ok.  Let’s say you’re in the target demographic for this crazy hotel — you’re a college student on summer holiday with a backpack and yearning for memories you’ll tell your grandkids about one day.  You’ve heard you’re staying at the ‘worst’ hotel in the world when you get to Amersterdam. You’ve heard the rooms are spartan.  The food is allegedly only passable, the amenities are often lacking or missing entirely (one ad for the hotel reportedly says, “If you want toilet paper, bring your own!”).

Then, you arrive (no doubt with a roll of TP in your pack) only to find that . . . yes, it’s not the most upscale hotel you’ll ever be in but, y’know what . . . it’s not all THAT bad, either!  By helping to lower the prospects’ expectations, The Hans Brinker Hotel has managed to actually make you feel good about the schlock conditions of the place.  And, despite your worst fears, the food in the hotel canteen is actually ‘not too bad’.  You’re hooked.  You’ll tell others you meet in Cologne or Paris or . . . and the future of this little ‘shoddy’ hotel looks brighter and brighter.

The ironic thing is that this hotel’s been growing their guest count and revenues on a steady basis ever since the word started getting out with the help of an advertising man named Erik Kessels.  “It wasn’t too challenging . . . the only requirement the owner had was to help him stop the guests’ complaints”.  By embracing the very reason why people complained and RE-positioning the Hans Brinker Hotel around it . . . the very same weakness became the hotel’s #1 strength and market attractor!  That, is very, very cool.

The Extreme Experience . . . Became a Book!
the-worstThere’s now a book out that details the story of this benign little traveler’s hotel.  Yes, the story of the hotel is that much of an inspiration — even if the rooms and food and fellow guests are touted not to be so good.  Imagine.  Take an extreme position.  Find the angle to promote.  Promote it (uh, heads up folks . . . that still takes some funding to pull off!).  Enjoy the activity you generate as a result.  Amazing.  Amazing and true!


  1. Don’t try to all things to everyone  . . . BE YOURSELF — flaws and all — there’s a market for everyone . . . you just have to find it
  2. Once you’re clear about who / what YOU are . . . your ideal market will begin to be seen with increasing clarity
  3. However you position yourself, go for the EDGE . . . the EXTREME EDGE . . . to STAND OUT from the crowd of ‘me-too’ competitors
  4. If your MESSAGE is aligned with your MARKET . . . your MISSION will be ‘magical’ to the very prospects you want to attract

Until next time . . . All the best,


I just had the pleasure of interviewing Curtis Lewsey for an upcoming article I’ll be writing for The National Networker.

Curtis is the co-author of a new book:  Appreciation Marketing

He makes a great point about marketing in general.

Most marketing is about ‘getting’ something from your prospect.  A response.  A sale.  A referral.

Curtis contends there is far more value in ‘giving’ someone something that demonstrates they are important to you.

A personal note to follow-up a connection.  A personalized gift reflecting a thoughtfulness that’s all too uncommon these days.

It’s not the magnitude of your action.  It’s the thoughtfulness behind it.

A good lesson.  A timely lesson.


Learn more about Curtis’ new book Appreciation Marketing — you’ll thank me for letting you in on it!

There are two basic strategies for creating loyalty in your customers or clients.  Good pricing or good service.

Both will attract and keep customers.  But of the two, service is better.

People who are loyal to certain companies — e.g. WalMart — because of their low prices

Others are loyal to certain companies — e.g. Nordstrom’s — because of their excellent customer service.

The point is that if you choose to use low prices to build customer loyalty, you’re in a precarious position.  It’s easy to lose the ‘good price’ position in any marketplace.  Someone once said, “There’s always some idiot who’s willing to price themselves out of business faster than you are”.

I like that!  It’s also very true.

But if you position your business on ‘service’, that’s far more sustainable. It is also a safer strategy to differentiate your business or practice. And, it forces you to help people focus on the VALUE you provide rather than the PRICE you charge to enjoy it.

Let’s face it . . . if you focus on customers who want a ‘low price’ they will be loyal to your price, not you. If you focus on providing good service, customers will be loyal to you and challenges to your price will be few.

smilerBottom Line:
You can be the ‘low price’ leader . . . for a while.  Or, you can be known for ‘good service’ and ‘fair (not low) prices’.

Which approach you choose will have a huge impact on your ability to generate and sustain a profitable business operation.  THINK ABOUT IT!

picture-30OK, I kid you not . . . this is REAL!

Bank marketing — and the messaging that is a key part of it — may never be the same again.

Enter Redneck Bank.  They decided (wow!  a conscious decision and action!) not to be another ‘pretty face’ in the crowd of banks vying for customers’ deposits.  So they broke away and are using messaging that’s appropriate to their position.  

Years ago, AVIS rental cars chose a message to help differentiate them from HERTZ rental cars.  Remember?  “We’re number 2 . . . we (have to) try harder”.  Implication.  “Hertz . . . they’re number 1 . . . they could give a hoot about you”.  That was powerful then.  It’s powerful now.  So is what Redneck Bank is doing against all the “me-too” banks.

How can you use the power of a message to help you stand out from the crowd of your competitors?  Work on that one . . . and when you get an answer, run like you-know-what with it . . . all the way to YOUR bank . . . Redneck or not!

untitledOn Saturday I was with a fellow business owner whose business has, after a very profitable and productive lifetime, reached the proverbial end of the road.  

Out of human decency, I’m not going to identify this business.  That’s not why I’m posting this.  

The owners are a husband and wife.  The business was started by her parents.  Then it was passed on the to next generation.  The wife recognized my wife and me when we came in the store.  She had tears in her eyes. The recent economy has hit their target market pretty hard.  They offer an upscale service.  Apparently, even the ‘deep pockets’ out there are holding on to their money.  That’s killed the business.  The market crash and credit tightening has caused this situation to become untenable.

I feel badly for this couple.  They’re really wonderful people.  

Tonight on the evening news, Brian Williams had a story about the people in Elkhart, IN who, as a town, have had their financial legs cut out from under them due to economic changes.

Signs of the times we’re living in.  It’s not nice.  Not easy.  

My argument . . . ALWAYS be asking, “What business am I in?”  and be ready to adapt!

If you’re a parent, you know about McDonalds.  And, the Happy Meal.

I’ll bet you’ve bought your fair share of them.  Maybe more.





But have you ever considered what a Happy Meal really is?  Or, why parents buy them for their kids?

There’s an excellent lesson here . . .

McDonald’s UNDERSTANDS . . . what their customers want.

The customer is, of course, not the kid.  It’s the PARENT of a child.

So if the parent is buying the Happy Meal . . . what is it that they’re buying?

This question comes up at McDonald’s “Hamburger University” — the training center for new McDonald’s franchises.  

Allegedly, the McDonald’s trainer asks the new franchisees, “What is a Happy Meal?”  The new recruits usually described it accurately. “A burger, fries, soda and toy in a playful container”.  The instuctor says, “Technically . . . correct.  BUT . . . what are people hoping to get when they ask for a Happy Meal?”  The recruits fidget.  Even they know it’s not what they just said. It’s not just a box with a burger, fries, soda and a toy?  Nope.  That would be too easy!

After some discussion, the McDonald’s instructor reveals the secret: “What the parent is buying isn’t the Happy Meal.  It’s what they hope to gain by buying it”.  “OK,”  the franchisee’s are thinking, “Which means . . . what?”

The instructor obliges them.  “The parent who buys our Happy Meals . . . isn’t buying what you described”  The room of new franchhisees are getting really confused, now.  “Nope.  What they’re buying is . . . :::::drum roll:::::: . . . 7 minutes . . . to wolf down their own food before their kids drag them out onto the playscape!”.  

The McDonald’s Happy Meal is a package.  And a packages ALWAYS produces a valued outcome.  And THAT . . . is what people buy when they’re buying your package or bundle of services that you offer.  

McDonald’s understands this.  I hope you do, too!

marketing-chatIf you were with us for the 03/26/09 Marketing Chat and would like to download a PDF of the slides, complete the form below:

In sales and marketing, “YOU GET . . .”  is a great phrase to use.

This is a banner . . . from Biznik — a popular online business networking website:




“You Get . . .” 

  • addresses the un-asked question your prospect is always asking
  • forces you to focus on the BENEFICIAL DIFFERENCE you make in a client’s life
  • makes you less ego-centric and more client-centric in your marketing message

In my training as a writer, I was admonished to always seek to communicate what my reader / listener / viewer would gain IF. . . they bought whatever I was selling.

“You Get . . .” is a key concept to keep in mind if you want to create marketing messages that get response from a qualified prospect for whatever you’re selling.