Something that’s often missing in sales and marketing is “the hook.” People launch into their spiel about all the great things their company offers, but they forget to warm up the audience first.
Think of a good movie you saw recently. I’m guessing it didn’t dive right in and give you the entire storyline within the first scene. Instead, those early moments likely gave you just enough to pique your interest and leave you wanting more. After a few minutes you probably had several questions bouncing around your mind that you were just itching to get answered. If that was the case, the writer and director performed their jobs well. They hooked you.
So how does the hook look in a business context? Something like this:
We help [who] tackle [problem] to get to [ideal state].
Remember, this is a juicy hook to get your target audience interested in learning more, not a tell-all monologue about each of your company’s products or services. Also, the language will change (for example, you don’t have to use the word “tackle” specifically), but the punchy structure should remain intact. That’s because the hook formula is specifically designed to elicit a quick emotional reaction at each of its brief stages. Here’s how:
Be clear about who you serve. This will make those folks pay much more attention when they see or hear their industry or job title being specifically called out. It’s the same principle as including someone’s name in a question or command to get their full attention. Anyone not addressed in your “who” will likely tune out at this point, which is perfectly fine since you don’t serve them anyway.
The prospect’s reaction at this stage: “Hey, that’s me…I should probably keep listening.”
Clearly mentioning the problem you solve is crucial because it conveys empathy. It communicates to the prospect that you’ve done your research and you truly understand his/her challenging situation. When people feel that you “get them” is when they give you their undivided attention, so it is at this stage that people really become receptive (or not) to the rest of your message.
The problem can also be phrased in the form of a solution. For example, if the problem being faced is “high turnover,” you could say that you help people “tackle high turnover” or that you help people “shrink turnover.” Either works.
The prospect’s reaction at this stage: “Yes! I have that problem…tell me more.”
Painting the picture of the prospect’s ideal state involves understanding how their business will excel as a result of solving the problem. For example, you might be able to save someone time, but the real value is the additional output (or revenue) that will result upon freeing up that time. The goal of this stage is to create a powerful contrast between how things are and how they could be.
The prospect’s reaction at this stage: “That’s exactly where I want to be…how do I get there?”
Now to piece it all together, here are a few examples:
- “We help software companies stop wasting time managing subscriptions and start cutting their release cycles in half.”
- “We help medical offices declutter and digitize documentation to double patient satisfaction and retention rates.”
- “We help freelance designers forget about client acquisition and focus on creating their best work yet.”
Once it’s in place, you can get a lot of mileage out of your hook. Some great places to share it are:
- Right at the top of your website
- In your social media bios
- At the beginning of sales calls
- At networking events
- In your email signature
- In any/all marketing materials
So what happens after the hook? Well, just like with a good movie, your audience will have questions at that point. Great! You’ve just started a conversation and can now share your story about how exactly you fight through that evil problem to arrive at the land of sunshine and rainbows.