The Hook

In my last letter, I talked about the marketing hubris trap: foolishly assuming everyone wants to hear about your products as much as you love to talk about them. Boorish people get called a jerk behind their backs. Boorish marketers get ignored. In both situations, aggrandizement causes a disconnect that alienates your audience.

The tactic we use to overcome the hubris trap is one we learned from 30 years of pitching product stories to the media. It’s called the hook. The hook simply means packaging your sales message within a related message that is intriguing to your audience. And the hook always comes before the sales pitch. No exceptions.

As an example, when we arrange media coverage for Great Clips hair salons, we don’t call reporters and producers to tell them Great Clips offers stylish haircuts at exceptionally affordable prices. We ask them questions like, “Would your audience be interested in a story about this year’s three most trendy back-to-school haircuts?”

The hook is simply putting the other parties’ needs before your own. Having the discipline to think more about your market than your company is the first step in creating a meaningful relationship with them and your products.   

You might say, “Big deal, who doesn’t know that? Having a hook or story angle has been around forever.” To a degree, you’d be right. But you could also say the same thing about eating the appropriate amount calories and saving for retirement. The difference between what people know and what people do is evident all around us.

Here’s what sets our agency apart and why we walk the walk not just talk the talk. It’s our daily contact, pitching stories to the media for 30 years. Their constant demand for the hook has genetically altered our company’s DNA. A couple more examples of the hook are the “snoring contests” we thought up to promote Breathe Right Nasal strips and the “shopping cart makeover” we used to promote our health-related clients who had products in the grocery stores. Morning radio loved the snoring contests and morning TV loved the shopping cart makeover.

Most marketers produce content with little or no hook. They use ads, social media and their website to launch right into how wonderful their product is and why everyone should buy it. It’s almost like a warning to the audience: THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT. If you want your product’s story told, you first need to entice the audience to pay attention.

Look at this letter, The Hook, and my last letter, The Hubris Trap. I don’t lead with what a great agency we are. I use the hook to pique your interest and then I layer in what a great agency we are.

The lesson of having a hook that was drilled into us by the media translates directly to the other services we offer: websites, social media and advertising, writing and graphic design. We have even trademarked a term that sets our work apart from competing agencies. We call it Media Grade Content®; content that would meet the standards of a good reporter.

If you would like to hear some examples of hooks we would use to promote your product(s), you can reach us at 952-697-5269 or schedule a time to talk. We’d love to hear from you.


Lonny Kocina
Founder & CEO

Written by Lonny Kocina

Lonny pioneered the concept of our nationally trademarked Pay Per Interview Publicity® business model which allows clients to purchase publicity by the story rather than pay hourly with no guarantee of coverage. His business foresight is evident in many ways including quickly reserving portal web addresses such as publicity, media relations, and checkerboard, and advising clients to do the same. In his spare time and as a way of giving back, Lonny teaches marketing as an adjunct faculty member at Dakota Technical College.

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