What’s In A Name?

Originally published August 14, 2005

Name Tag

"Hello, my name is" sticker

Thirty years ago a pair of researchers, Herbert Harari and John W. McDavid gave eighty experienced teachers papers to grade. Eight essays, all of comparable quality were supposedly by boys named David, Elmer, Hubert, and Michael, and by girls named Adelle, Bertha, Karen, and Lisa.

The names were rotated through the eight essays, so that some teachers believed David wrote the essay on Tarzan, while others noted that David wrote the essay on kites.

Result? When credited to names with positive stereotypes the papers got better grades than when credited to names with negative stereotypes. Michael always got a better grade than Elmer, for instance.


Names Make a Difference in People’s Expectations

That would lead a curious person to wonder if George W. Bush could have been elected had his name been Pépé LePetomaine. Would John Kerry have been his party’s choice of candidate were he named Percy Arbuthnot? Would our fellow citizens be supportive of sending troops into combat if the initiative had been named something other than the “War On Terror?”

Those who are very talented often make things look easy. When talented people are articulate, they make things sound easy, too. I think that’s the case with a post Chris Gloede authored on his Rants on Modern Marketing blog titled Product: Naming Isn’t Really That Important. It’s what started me thinking about names.

I don’t disagree with Chris often. No matter how simple he makes it sound, I don’t believe that he would choose anything but a great name. Like I said, talented people just “do it,” while others are wondering what to do. And I certainly agree with him when he says “having a good product supported by good marketing” is more important than the name of the business.

Still, I think names are important.

Everything in our world has a name. Every sound, every color, everything you touch, and every business you deal with.

Some Names Have Positive Connotations

Others much less so.

It’s not likely anyone today would name a baby Francis, Edgar, Agatha, or Mabel. And yet, we see companies deliberately choosing such names as Vapid Software. (I’ll save you the trouble of looking it up. Vapid is a Latin adjective meaning “flat tasting, lacking liveliness, dull”).

There wasn’t much of a market for Chinese gooseberries. Say it out loud and listen to the sound of that name – gooseberries. It’s so much more attractive now that it’s been renamed “Kiwi fruit.”

Crazy Eddie®, “with prices so low we must be insane,” sold massive amounts of stereo gear in New York in the 70s. It was a memorable name with a memorable advantage to consumers. But how likely are you to seek out an accountant doing business as Crazy Henry’s Income Tax Service? Would you make an appointment with a proctologist who calls himself Crazy Norman?

Names are important. A businesses name is the foundation upon which it’s image is built. Are you more likely to purchase:

DieHard®, or Gulf Star® batteries?
Intensive Care®, or Cornhuskers® lotion?
Craftsman®, or Imperial® hand tools?

Care to guess which name in each pair sells more? Names are important.

Overstock Dot Com has a problem in trying to market themselves as a high end retailer. The television image of opulance and the good life clashes with the name. Go to their web site and decide which of those images is a lie. Either way, their name becomes the limiting factor.
Does The Body Shop® repair cars or sell scented bath products? This one sells bath products, and the name works. By association with the other image of a body shop, the implication is that you’ll find products to fix your body.

My Great Names List

My Great Names List is heavily populated by Sears® brands. In addition to Craftsman® and DieHard®, Sears names are such gems as Silvertone®, Coldspot®, Toughskins®, and the now defunct Roadtalker® CB radios. Sears understands naming

Other names on my Great Names List include Right To Life Society®, Bank of America®, Sports Illustrated®, and Pay Less Drugs® (Yeah, I know. They’re Rite Aid®, now. Pity. I understand Pay Less Drugs. Wanna explain to me what a Rite Aid is? Or how to spell it?)

A British energy company named Powergen? I like it. The Italian subsidiary of that company? Powergenitalia. That wouldn’t be such a good name.

What do you think about Phartronics Engineering or Ascend Communications. (Try them out loud. It makes a difference).

Also featured on my You’ve Gotta Be Kidding Me names list are such gems as Badcock Furniture, Boozer Shopping Center, Beaver Cleaners, Dick Cleaners & Drapery Service, and Bea’s Ho-Made Products.

I want to see the workers on Bea’s assembly line.

For the record, I didn’t invent these names to make my point. I’m not that clever. These are very real businesses. Well, except for Powergenitalia.

Why Names Are Important

Names establish the foundation of image. Names make a difference in people’s expectations. Your child’s name is important to his future success, and so is your business’ name important to its future success.

In each case we use the name to affect public perception. Perception is reality.

And what is marketing, if not an attempt to alter perception? The right perception can only help as you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Need some help creating a great name for your company? Drop Chuck a note at [email protected] and start a conversation.  Or call him at 760-813-5474.

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Inclusive Communication By Design

Originally published September 29, 2006.



Your company is looking at a lot of late night local cable availability, and thinking that a 30-minute infomercial might be appropriate.

The boss has just found out that companies which specialize in infomercial marketing will charge tens of thousands of dollars to produce your program.

He wants to know why you can’t do it “in house.”

Can’t you just put a talent in front of a camera and let him persuade those late night visitors to buy?


DIY Infomercial?

I wouldn’t.

Too many dollars would stay on the table.

In addition to the obvious differences in production quality that an infomercial specialist brings to the table, there is the difference in strategy. The pros know you can’t treat all potential customers alike.

You see, some people want you to just cut to the bottom line and tell them what your product will do for them.

Some want to read the fine print.

Some want to know if other people have successfully used your product to solve their problems.

And then there’s the group that wants to know a whole lot more about your company before they consider doing business with you.

The right thing to say to one is exactly the wrong thing to say to the others.

What’s an aspiring infomercial producer to do?

According to Dr. Richard Grant, you should make a specific appeal to each of the eight different Meyers-Briggs communication styles in our offers. He calls the process Inclusive Communication by design.

It only makes sense that if we talk to people about their concerns, in a style that makes them comfortable, and address the questions that are important to them, that we’ll persuade more of them to do business with us.

Here is my assessment of the approach we need to take with each of the Meyers-Briggs “types” for your new 30-minute infomercial.

E – needs a good verbal presentation. Cover the major points at a fast pace without too much detail.
I – needs time to reflect. Will buy, but not before deliberating.
S – begin with facts, and build to “big picture.”
N – begin with “big picture” and fill in the facts.
T – emphasize soundness, reliability, and statistics.
F – support with first-hand testimonials
J – no surprises. Appear to stay organized.
P – diplomatically remind that a decision must be made within certain time constraints

Here’s how I would organize a program.

In Practical Application

Minutes 1-3
Introduce the show, and summarize the next thirty minutes for the “Js”. Make the overall claims for the product quickly for the “Ns”. Then, for both the “Ns” and the “Ss,” start building your facts. For the “Ss,” build to your conclusion and restate the claims for the product.

Minutes 4-8
For the “Ts” support the claims with science. For the “Fs” bring in the testimonials. Keep it fun and fast paced for the “Es”. Explain the dependability of your staff/call center for the “Js” and the fun people will have interacting with them for “Es.” Remind the “Ps” that this special offer is only good during this program.

Make your first call to action.

Minutes 9-17
Repeat your overall claims in summary form for the “Ns.” Build your facts, and re-state your conclusions for the “Ss.” Amplify and expand on the science for the “Ts.” Refer the “Is” to your web site. Reassure the “Js” that everything you’ve promised will happen right on schedule with no surprises. Consider using recorded testimonials from other customers, and use them now for the “Fs.” Again, remind the “Ps” that this special offer is only good during this program.

Make your second call to action.

Minutes 18-29
Have the interviewer “put you on the ropes” and make you defend the claims for the “Ss” and the “Js.” Keep it logical for the “Ts” but light-hearted for the “Es.” Pull out the science in deeper detail, and discuss the manufacturing process for the “Js” and “Ns.”

Talk about the company, and your commitments to quality and customer satisfaction for the “Ns,” “Ss,” and “Is.” Consider a :40 second interview with one of the call center operators as entertainment for the “Es” and reassurance for the “Js.” Restate that your customers get exactly what they expect on the timetable you’ve committed.

Remind the “Ps” that it’s time to place an order, if they want to take advantage of this special offer.

Make your final call to action, and wrap up.

Cast a Wider Net

Each personality type is more comfortable with information presented in a particular style. Incorporating all styles into your presentation effectively multiplies the bait when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Got questions about articulating your value, and making sure people know it? Drop Chuck a note at [email protected]. Or call him at 304-208-7654.

If you’re interested in learning more about persona-based marketing, I recommend Waiting for Your Cat to Bark by Bryan Eisenberg, Jeffrey Eisenberg, and Lisa T. Davis. They make simple what could be a confusing subject. That’s probably why the book hit all 4 bestseller lists: New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today and BusinessWeek.

In the event that you find yourself considering the services of an infomercial professional, you owe it to yourself to talk to Wizard of Ads ® partner Adam Deatherage at ADco Video Productions.

Adam is not expensive. Additionally he knows every way to stretch your marketing dollar, including making long-form video, :30 and :60 second television ads from the same footage. Call him for a quote on your next video project at (940) 636-0089.

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How to Communicate Abstract Concepts in Your Presentation

You are stressed about your upcoming presentation.

You have spent countless number of hours looking for the right image for this slide but it is just not happening. It is now midnight and you are sitting in bed with your laptop. Undecided. Unsure.

You shake your wife awake. “Honey, which one better says teamwork’? This clipart of stick figures holding hands and standing around the light bulb or the businessman shaking hands with the guy holding the globe?

If you are making a pitch that involves jeans, cars, or new homes, I will safely assume that you will insert images into your presentation that has to do with the pitch: models wearing your jeans, pictures or videos of the cars, interior and exterior of your new homes. Because the pitch is for things and ideas that are tangible it is relatively easy to decide what image to show in your presentation.

What if you are dealing with an abstract idea?

But what do you do if you have to sell the value of something as intangible as divorce attorney services for women? What do you do if you are the attorney who needs to communicate that client satisfaction ratings are very important to his practice? Does he flash slides of bullet points? Blocks of text with long explanations of what they do? Graphs? Charts?

You could, just see it here. But then you run the risk of boring people to tears. There is nothing worse than watching a presentation you have to read. (Unless the presenter is reading it for you. In that case you could have an imaginary race to see who gets done reading faster. You will probably win!) A better way is to find an image, a cartoon, an illustration or a diagram that conceptually shows what you cannot show in reality.

There is an attorney who did just that. Take a look at this picture. It captures the emotion of what you should feel when you hear the words, “We specialize in divorce services for women.” The point is made that this attorney gets you results and if you are a woman in need of their services, you would be well served by this firm.

Let’s take a look at another example

Let’s say you are leading a team that is having a hard time with changes that the company is going through and your job is to communicate and help them understand that the changes are inevitable. Now this is a pretty tough intangible topic to show with images but if I were to try, maybe I would build an image of a clock with the arms of the clock taped down so that they cannot move. The analogy conveys that just like you cannot make time stand still, you cannot stop evolution and change.

Let’s say that the intangible concept you want to convey is the amount of choices we have in our world today. There are multiple ways to do that visually because choice is a relatively easy concept to convey visually. You could show a full isle in a supermarket, or you could show a view of restaurant row with all the different choices of restaurants available to you. On the other hand you could choose something abstract like a butterfly hovering over a field of flowers, unsure which flower to drink nectar out of!

So how do you come up with ideas for images when the concept is abstract and intangible?

Let’s say you have to do a presentation on Customer Service skills. If you type in, “Customer Service” in the search box of the stock photo site, you will get a ton of clichéd images of people shaking hands, people talking over the phone or people in a meeting.

But you are surely looking for something more original and clever aren’t you?

Your search for original and clever images is going to need some deeper visual thinking.

There are three ways of thinking about this visually.

1. Think about emotions

(How does it make you feel?) What emotions do people feel when they get good or bad service? Do they get mad, or sad? Do they feel disgust at being treated badly? Pleasantly surprised when they were treated exceptionally well?

2. Think about reactions

(How do you react to it?) What happens when people get good or bad service? Do they speak with someone higher up? Do people write letters and emails to the company? Do they tell their friends on Facebook or send a tweet? Or maybe they just never go back and ‘boycott’ that business!

3. Think about results

(What happens as a result?) How does it end? What is the rest of the story? Does the business get more fans on Facebook because of your glowing review? Does their Yelp page get a ton of hits? If it did not end so well, does it affect their stock price? Do they publicly apologize to the consumers?

Now take those words that you came up with and use those search terms to look for the right image. Or ‘build’ an image that visually conveys exactly what you want to communicate. Because sometimes, no matter how hard you look you may not find the exact image. But how best to do that will be another blog post!

To summarize

When you want to find the right image for an abstract concept, thinking about and finding words that make you feel those emotions, reactions and results will give you a much richer set of images to choose from than you get from the clichéd images you will get from typing in the abstract idea that your presentation is based on.

Let’s do this together and share in the comments below, shall we? The abstract word we will be working on is “character”. So think about ‘character’ in terms of emotions, reactions and results, both positive and negative and post your new words or phrases below in the comments!

Sam Thatte is a Presentation Coach who helps you to become memorable and persuasive.

Stumped for examples of thought provoking images? Call Sam Thatte Presentation Design – (760) 383-1010.

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Emotions VS Logic

You’ve no doubt heard that people emotionally decide what to purchase, and then use logic to justify that purchase.

Can a product be sold on emotion alone?

Yes. Usually to children.

Children desperately want to fit in. The easiest way to entice a child is to present your product as the one purchase that every other kid is getting.

Truthfully, does anyone need shoes that light up at each step? They don’t even flash a light in the direction the kid is traveling. Instead, they light up to show where he’s been.

When I was a kid, everybody had streamers – long strips of colored plastic attached to the plastic grips on bicycle handlebars. They flapped in the breeze and were absolutely useless except to show all of the other kids that you had ’em.

And if it weren’t for other kids owning them, could there be any justification for Pokemon cards?

Bigger kids, even sixty-year-old kids, still feel this pressure to belong. They’ve just become much better at justifying their purchase choices. As I said, they’ve learned to use facts as if the facts were how they came to the decision. It’s seldom the case.

But, for a minute, let’s consider the other extreme.

Can a product be sold purely on logic alone?

Yes, it can, if it’s a commodity.

Commodities are interchangeable mass-produced, unspecialized products like gasoline, rice, airline seats, and pork bellies. Since they’re all virtually identical, one buys them from a strictly transactional mindset: by dividing benefits by price. More benefits, lower price, better deal.

But, for everything else we buy, emotion plays a major part in our decisions.

Emotions, or Logic?

So, which is better?  Should you use emotion or logic to sell your products and services?

It’s a trick question. You need both.

Your ads should provide emotional appeal to help shoppers to choose your offering; and then back the decision up with solid facts they can use to explain their purchase to anyone else.

A Fictitious Example

Nothing warms and protects you like genuine leather. And nothing else will look so good on you, either. Ajax Leather jackets are exceptionally flattering. They can be worn for business, but you’ll find them equally comfortable for causal wear. The first thing you’ll notice as you slip into a lined Ajax Leather jacket is the weight. This jacket won’t wear out in a lifetime of use. Secondly you’ll admire the strong zippers and snaps and the quality of the stitching. But you’ll probably choose it because it looks so good on you. Step in to the Ajax Leather store and step out in style. Ajax Leather on Bovine Boulevard.

More will take the bait if you give them the intellectual rationale they need to justify the decision they wish to make emotionally. Help your customers to buy when you’re fishing for customers.

Your Guide,
Chuck McKay

Marketing consultant Chuck McKayYour Fishing for Customers guide, Chuck McKay, gets people to buy more of what you sell.

Got questions about combining logic with emotional appeals? Drop Chuck a note at [email protected]. Or call him at 760-813-5474.

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