I spoke with Sam recently to get a preview of her session. What are some of the steps, I asked, to create that perfect elevator pitch. Her answers were intriguing - and practical.
"POP! (the title of her book) stands for Purposeful, Original and Pithy," she told me. What you're looking for is a memorable sound bite that elicits "that chuckle or bark of laughter when the eyebrows go up."
Sam, who is also the author of Tongue Fu! (the verbal form of Kung Fu), said it's particularly important for entrepreneurs in crowded markets to Pop! their business or brand. "The best way to corner a niche is to create a niche and the best way to create a niche is to coin your own word."
Step 1: The first thing you need to do is alphabetize your core words, Sam explained. You need to create a word or phrase that you can trademark, obtain the domain (unique URL) for and possibly even license and merchandize.
A quick example (there are dozens in her book): a bar in Alexandria, VA wanted to distinguish itself from every other watering hole. They had the idea of creating a happy hour for patrons with dogs. In other words, you could bring your dog with you. So... using the alphabet method, they went through every letter until they came up with (you guessed it): Yappy Hour.
Step 2: Don't repeat cliches, Sam advises, rearrange them. For example, she said, the motto of The Economist is Great Minds Like a Think (I don't see this on Economist.com but I love it.)
Go to www.clichesite.com for help, she advises. Identify your 10 to 20 core words and look for cliches that use those words. Keep going through the alphabet. (Hmmm... this sounds fun but hard. Probably best to do as a team with a couple of pizzas on hand and maybe some beer. That's my suggestion, not Sam's.)
Step 3: Test market the various versions of your brand name or slogan. "Watch people's eyebrows," Sam said. "If they knit or furrow, it means they don't get it." And if they can't repeat it, "they didn't get it and they won't remember it."
Step 4: Take a page from some recognizable brands and use alliteration. There's a reason, Sam said, that it's Bed, Bath and Beyond. And not Bed, Toilet and Shower. Best Buy and not Best Purchase. Circuit City and not Circuit Town.
Step 5: Consider attending Sam's session on Friday. However, it will be hard to choose. There are half a dozen other sessions during the 3:30 - 4:30 PM slot that sound excellent, including presentations by lifestyle celeb Tim Ferriss and Think Big guru Michael Port.