Pop! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title, and Tagline for Anything
By Sam Horn
Copywriting is like packing for a business trip.
You’ve got to fit everything you need into a compact carry-on, be wrinkle-free when you step off the tarmac, anticipate everyone you’ll need to and be ready to win them over, and get it all done on a harrowingly short deadline. Yes, copywriting is all about minimalism, mobility, and memorability. Every word counts and your readers have a zero tolerance policy for verbosity.
Thankfully, I just finished a clever little book that teaches how you can scientifically streamline your message so that your clients can easily store it in their own overhead compartments (pun intended). POP! by Sam Horn is a toolbox for stepping out of the background noise and succinctly proving why you (or your products/ services) are worthy. Why does that matter? Because your success in any (and every) marketplace depends on your ability to quickly capture your target audience’s interest.
“Keep in mind that you’re more interested in what you have to say than anyone else is.”
– Andy Rooney
Write like a Wizard, Think like an Engineer.
I love the way engineers operate (which is perhaps why I married one).
Remember Aron Ralston, the real-life climber behind the movie 127 Hours? He’s the man literally sawed his arm off after being pinned beneath of falling boulder while hiking solo in a desert in Utah. Ever read the fictional book “The Martian” or see the movie in which Matt Damon “sciences the shit” out of being stranded alone on Mars in order to beat the odds and save his life? I would argue that these two pop-culture engineers can teach us a great deal about successful copywriting…and there’s no need to put yourself in a life-threatening predicament in order to get the lesson.
Typically, engineers (and these 2 examples in particular) exhibit the divine ability to take into account all the facts, focus exclusively on the single most pressing problem, draft up a list of potential solutions, and systematically work through them one by one until POOF, the problem is solved.
This is a wickedly powerful way to approach everything from survival scenarios to creative endeavors, such as copywriting.
Let me explain:
Remember: copywriting is writing that moves people to action. It is deeply persuasive. But the marketplace is crowded with voices and if you’re going to compel action, your message is going to have to (1) be heard and (2) be memorable.
That is why professional copywriting requires equal parts strategy and creativity.
So how does this come back to Matt Damon and the power of thinking like an engineer? Because your muse is NOT a survival expert. She will not help you when you’re stranded on Mars or staring down the barrel of a 5 o’clock deadline. She is not Bear Grylls, Aron Ralston, or Matt Damon’s character…in fact, 80% of the time she won’t even answer your call when you need her. The truth is, your muse is a warm & fuzzy fantasy slouched in a bean bag chair waiting for her caffeine buzz to kick back in. You must not depend on your muse. She does good work when she shows up, but if you wait for her to clock in before you do – you’re going to be toast.
Whether or not your muse ever materializes, you still have to fill up your creative cup. That means seeking inspiration, observing everything, and following your curiosity. But if you hope to transmit that creativity on-call and on-point, you’re going to have to also think like an engineer.
When it comes time for your pen to bring home the bacon, always rely on a fail-proof process.
“POP!” provides just that.
It’s a simple, systematic, and highly effective way to turn up the head on every title, headline, tagline, and slogan you will ever conceive.
In Brief: POP! By Sam Horn
Depending on your writing medium, you may have 1 second or 30 seconds to win over your target’s interest, trust, and next action. This is the varsity level of writing. It’s calculated, crafted, drafted & re-drafted, until every word has proven its worth beyond a shadow of a doubt.
“Pop!” is a toolbox for crafting persuasive and creative messages with maximum impact.
What’s POP! All About?
It’s an acronym that stands for Purposeful, Original, and Pithy – the 3 key characteristics of copywriting that gets the job done.
Let’s break that down:
- Purposeful – Everything we say has to be in alignment with our purpose and relevant to our audience.
- Original – Say something people haven’t heard before, so that your readers say, “Huh, that’s new. Tell me more!”
- Pithy – Keep your writing concise so that readers can easily repeat your message. If it’s not repeatable, it’s dead on arrival.
Now, I can’t give away the goods (because that’s why Sam wrote the book), but here’s a little teaser to whet your appetite with some key tips and takeaways:
- Try Spell Chuck
Embrace incorrect spellings for their memorability. For example: Curl up and Dye, Mompreneurs, etc.
- Capture Conversational Catchphrases from your clients
Write in vernacular (vocabulary) that your clients use on a daily basis; speak to them the way they speak themselves. For example: “Oh, my aching back!” vs. “Why to see a Chiropractor.“
- Make a Connection from the Unknown to the Known
Learning requires linking something we don’t understand to something we do understand. For example: “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.” links an unfamiliar concept to a concept most people are familiar with and fond of.
- Rearrange Clichés
Clichés are true, but they’re tired out. Rearrange them for a fresh and memorable take on the truism. For example, a tagline for The Economist reads: Great minds like a think.
- Test your Market with the Eyebrow Test
Give your copy to trusted friends or colleagues for a quick read-through. If their eyebrows furrow, it means you’ve lost them and your message need to be made clearer.
If you’re interested in studying more of Sam’s brilliant copywriting techniques, the book is well worth the read and if you’re motivated (and caffeinated), I’d bet you can probably whip through it in a single afternoon.
I also recommend creating a notecard of these tips and tricks so that you can have them at your fingertips the next time you sit down to write. Otherwise, you run the risk of settling back into your old habits and losing your creative genius in the hum-drum style of everything that’s already been done.
Thoughts on “Pop! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title, and Tagline for Anything”? Are you a fellow follower of Sam Horn?
Tell me about it in the comment section below!
All the best,
Book Title: POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title, and Tagline for Anything
Author: Sam Horn
Genre: Nonfiction, Writing
Publisher: The Penguin Group
Release Date: 2006
Buy the Book: Amazon I Barnes & Noble
Connect with the author: Facebook I Twitter I Goodreads