I'm looking for a memory hook for my management consulting business.
Focus: Helping troubled or financially distressed companies survive, turn around to profitability, navigating through bankruptcy, crisis etc. Sort of like an emergency room doctor for business.
What makes a good memory hook? The key is the word "memory." In order for a memory hook to be effective, it must be very memorable! Whenever your potential customer needs your product of service, your name will pop into their head as well as your hook. It has to be easy to remember. The best way is to make it vivid and short.
Short isn't hard to figure out; one snappy phrase or short sentence is all that's needed. Anything more is not only wasted, it can get in the way. Saying "what you see is what you get" versus "the items available for purchase during our special sale are the ones that are on display beneath this sign" is an example of this point.
**See It, Hear It, Feel It**
A good memory hook often appeals to the basic senses -- sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. When meeting people in person or presenting your product or service using marketing materials, you should invoke the senses as strongly as possible -- in a pleasurable way, of course. Here are some examples to show you what I mean:
Here's a memory hook, used by a travel agent, that conjures up the memory of a popular song: "Come fly away with me." Most people of a certain age will be reminded of Sinatra's hit of several decades back. With the exception of smells, nothing cranks up a pleasure trip into nostalgia like the fond memory of an old song.
How do you conjure up the sensation of touch in a slogan? Here's one way: "If you want to get rubbed the right way, see Jim." This is how one inventive massage technician attracts business. And any Dallasite who hears "Sweat's my name, air conditioning's my game" will probably feel a shiver of dread thinking of that hot August day last year when the fan stopped working, and call air conditioning specialist Tim Sweat.
**Make 'Em Laugh, Make 'Em Cry**
Another "sense" that is often invoked in the best memory hooks may be the most important one of all: the sense of humor. When you want to catch and hold someone's attention, tickling his funny bone is perhaps the surest way of being remembered. In fact, one thing that most of the memory hooks in this book have in common is that they are funny. Making people laugh is one of the fastest ways of breaking down the barriers between strangers and of winning the prospect's good will.
Two of the examples that you've just read are puns, a form of humor that everyone groans at but tries to remember to pass along. The power of the pun comes from the element of surprise; your listener (or reader) thinks you're saying one thing but suddenly discovers that you're saying something else because you've either distorted the word or defined it another way. Here are some other examples of memory hooks that use puns or word play:
"We check your shorts," an electrician offers.
"We're dyeing to save you money," says a company that can change the color of your carpet.
On the other hand, a memory hook doesn't have to be funny to be memorable. Sometimes you just need to reach out and pluck someone's heartstrings. Here's a good example that I once heard from a real estate salesperson whose name sadly I cannot remember: "I help people find a home. Not a house, but a home; not a place where they just live, but a place where they love to live."
**Verse -- Or Worse**
Using verse is a sure way to catch someone's interest. Before most people could read, storytellers passed down tribal legends in verse form to make them easier to remember. The tradition lingers. Most people can recite from memory poetry or doggerel or humorous verse, whether sonnets or limericks, and anyone who can read is instinctively attracted to words that rhyme. If you can use your name as part of the rhyme, so much the better. Hear are some examples:
"When things go blurry, don't stop to 'ponda'; stumble to 17th Street and see Dr. Honda" (an optometrist).
If you find yourself in trouble with the authorities, perhaps the following poem, penned by a lawyer in Portland, Maine, will spring to mind: "When the cops are in the foyer, call Marchese, your friendly lawyer."
**Piracy or Parody?**
Many memory hooks work because they take a familiar saying and rephrase it, usually with humor -- that is, they parody a song or a phrase the reader or listener will recognize. But you have to be careful; some authors, especially songwriters, are quite militant about copyright infringement.
"When you're in a commotion, who're you gonna call? Law in motion!" proclaims a paralegal Long Beach, California. It's a good bet she's seen Ghostbusters.
A banker in White Plains, New York, offers this though, perhaps borrowed from a farewell speech by a famous WWII general: "Old bankers never die -- they just lose interest!"
And here's one that the borrower, a Glendale, California, dentist, can never be sued for: "I believe in the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth, so help me God."
**The Old Double Reverse**
One of the most powerful language devices is a statement in which the second part either rephrases or reverses the first. The original meaning may be reinforced, slightly altered, or turned around entirely, leading to intriguing mental juxtapositions. For instance:
"A business without a sign is a sign of no business" (a sign company in Canyon Springs, California).
"If your hair is not becoming to you, then you should be coming to me" (a hair stylist in Covina, California).
These approaches should give you an idea of some of the tools and resources you can use to construction your own memory hook. Notice that many memory hooks use a combination of these techniques. Almost anything you do in the line of word play will come out funny -- and that's the way it should be, unless you'd rather appeal to the heart. Song lyrics usually rhyme, so if you parody a song, it should rhyme as well. And any of these techniques can be more effective if your memory hook is short and snappy and appeals to the senses.
**When And How To Use A Memory Hook**
The best memory hook is one that you can use in many contexts. It should work in a pure word-of-mouth setting, as when you are attending a meeting of a networking group. It should work on your business card, on your letterhead, your calendars, your giveaway pens (another reason to keep it short), even your print ads. Of course, networking opportunities are one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising. The problem is, that most people don't know how to stand out in the crowd at these of events. This is why business professionals who understand networking techniques such as memory hooks have a distinct edge over their competition. Whether it's mass advertising or face-to-face, you want people to think of you, and you alone, when they see or hear something about the product or service you have to offer.