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Friday, Apr. 27, 2007 at 12:05 pm

Athletic Math Nerd Seeks Someone To Hum Seinfeld Intro Music With

By Anthony Garcia
April 27th, 2007

026_Lucky_nerd.jpgWould you date this person? Most of us wouldn’t.

But the person that would is sure to respond passionately to such a bold headline. According to Fast Company, if you want people to love you, you’d better figure out who’s gonna hate you…

We examined more than 1,000 ads–from men and women, old and young. Our search yielded headlines like this one: “Hey.” Folks, if your opening line is “Hey,” you better be hot.

Another said “Looking for love.” Well, duh, you’re on At least two-thirds of the headlines said nothing–and did it poorly.

Why do these headlines suck so much? Fear. Fear of saying too much. Fear of saying something clever that someone might think is stupid. Fear of saying something revealing that might turn someone off. The headlines try desperately not to exclude anyone. In doing so, they succeed at boring everyone.

The “Hey” phenomenon is rampant in the corporate world. Branding is nothing more than a company’s personal ad, and companies are as bad at it as singles. Gap (NYSE:GPS), for example, is the “Hey” of fashion, thus its recent woes. And Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F) –who, exactly, does it want to date? Brands with enough scale think they can get away with being generically likable. And some can, at least for a little while.

Your company is an athletic math nerd; not everyone is going to buy your goods. In fact, more people won’t buy from you than will. So, why are wasting so much time trying to be all things to all people in your marketing?

If anything, the fear of being disliked afflicts marketers more acutely than daters, because the stakes are higher. “Most marketers feel that if they make a bold statement, they risk not just alienating customers–but also their boss, and their boss’s boss,” says Charles Rosen, founding partner of Amalgamated ad agency. “That fear takes the edge off of all communications.”

What exactly are you afraid of? Stand up tall. Say who you are. The only thing more embarrassing than humming Seinfeld with your customers is humming it broke and alone.

(Note: Many of us around the office are quickly becoming big fans of Dan & Chip Heath who authored this article. My copy of their book Made to Stick is screaming for mercy from all the dog ears.)

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Comments (2)

  1. Very interesting concept, this is the first time I’ve come across your site and I can tell that I’m going to have to read more of your articles about branding. I think I’ve been way to neutral up until this point. Thanks for the good advice!

  2. Shaq – does your lovely wife know you peruse the personals man? I think we are talking MIS-MATCH on this one (good article though, seems I remember some Good little marketing dude telling me long ago “knowing your enemy is knowing yourself”. Later bro

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