GOT MEME? How to Attract Your Clients' and Customers' Attention
By Charlie Cook

No "meme" isn't a typo and Got Milk, the more commonly know
phrase, is actually a marketing meme. If you've opened up a
magazine or watched TV in the last ten years you've seen the
fun and memorable Got Milk ad campaign using celebrities with
a milk mustache. Chances are it got your attention and you
remember the phrase, "Got Milk".

A good meme is simple, provocative and infectious. An effective
meme rolls off your tongue and sticks in your mind. Others
remember it and pass it along to their friends and colleagues.
It's the cultural equivalent of a gene. For those of you
without a national advertising budget, helping prospects and
clients quickly grasp what you do and having them spread the
word about your services is a form of zero cost marketing that
you can use.

You may already have a tagline, slogan, or catch phrase you
use in your marketing, but does it work as well as a meme?
Like a gene, memes synthesize complex information, concepts
and ideas and pass them along with little effort. They
communicate what you do in a few words or in a short
sentence. They enable you to get across the benefits of your
products and services to prospects in a form they'll remember
and repeat to others.

Does your current title, tagline, or catch phrase:
- Tell people what you do?
- Create a perception of need?
- Start conversations?

- Labels such as "Trial Lawyer" or "Copy Editor" or
"Computer Specialist". The problem with labels is that they
don't tell anyone how you can help them, or which problems
you solve. In most cases they kill further conversation.

- Descriptions of work processes and methodologies. These
usually start with "I ...". While at some point a prospect may
want to know how you work, it is their problems and concerns
which interest them the most and are the best place to begin.

- Offers such as "Buy this and get two free." Your meme
isn't meant to convince someone to buy but rather to get
his or her interest and start a conversation.

Effective marketing memes focus on a specific clientele and
a solution, or better yet a common client problem. For 
example, "I help independent professionals attract more 
clients", identifies a market and a client problem. It also 
invites the follow up question "How?" FedEx grew their now 
billion dollar business with the meme, "When it absolutely, 
positively, has to be there overnight".

Whether you use a meme in the elevator, on your business
card or in your mailings, it should help your prospects know
whether you are taking to them and define you as someone
who can help them solve a problem, and prompt prospects
to ask if your products and services could help them, too.

The "Got Milk" campaign used both words and images to get
their message across. If you are only relying on words, you
may need more than two, but limit it to less than ten. Use
the following steps to write your meme.

- Identify your target market.

- Define problems you solve for clients.

- Clarify the benefits you provide.

- Determine what you would like people to do after they
hear or see your meme. What question do you want
them to ask or what action you want them to take?

- Use this information to write five conversation-starting
phrases that summarize who you help and the problems
you solve.

Once you have these draft memes, try them out. Some may
elicit blank stares; others will prompt people to ask 
questions or start listing names of people they know who 
could use your products and services. A good meme can 
start a chain reaction in people's minds and prompt them 
to move from prospect to client. When you hear people 
repeating your meme to others, you'll know you've got 
one that works.

Coming up with an effective meme isn't easy, but its the
lowest cost and most valuable tool in your marketing tool kit.
You may be pushing prospects away with your current
tagline instead of helping people understand what you do
and, more importantly, what you can do for them. So get
meme, and get going with your marketing.

2003 © In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved. 

The author, Charlie Cook, helps independent professionals 
and small business owners who are struggling to attract 
more clients and grow their businesses. To get the 
free marketing guide, '7 Steps to Get More Clients 
and Grow Your Business' visit or write

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