How To Write A Catchy Tagline For Your Business Without Driving Yourself Insane 24/7.
In a few weeks’ time, my wife is going to have a 20-week baby scan to see what gender our identical twins will be.
In that scan, she’s goes going to lie down on a bed, and have blue gel rubbed onto her tummy. On the black and white screen next to her bed should appear two babies and we’ll see what gender Mother Nature has given our future children. However, until week 20, our minds – our Brain Wheels will be spinning, in fact – guessing the genders.
Today, however, I’m here to talk about a different topic that also gets our Brain Wheels spinning. It’s a marketing topic (not a baby topic) that I was asked about by one of my clients the other week: How do I write a catchy tagline for my business because I’m thinking about it 24/7.
There are a few techniques to writing a tagline, including pure luck and guesswork (although this is not one that I’d recommend). Today, however, I want to look at a result that gets you to an answer within a few minutes and stops you staying awake at night thinking of tagline and keeps your mind spinning.
Yes, it doesn’t need to be hard work. Let me tell you about it.
If you’ve ever had a headache before it’s likely that you’ll have wanted some pain relief in the form of an aspirin, or paracetamol. Typically, a lot of advertising on TV for headaches and migraines also uses the words ‘pain relief’ to say ‘you have a problem (like a headache) and we have the answer’ (like a headache tablet).
And that’s how many taglines work: they offer pain and they offer relief in one swift hit.
Yes, taglines have a problem and a pain in them, and they also have an answer or solution in them too.
Let’s look at a few popular taglines and see if you can spot where the moments of pain and relief are:
No More Tears (Johnson & Johnson Shampoos)
The Antidote to Boring Gyms (Gym Box in London)
The Antidote to Scattergun Marketing Advice (Brain Wheel)
M&Ms melt in your mouth, not in your hand
Did you spot the pain and did you spot the relief?
No More (is the relief) Tears (is the pain)
M&Ms melt in your mouth (is the relief), not in your hand (is the pain)
The antidote (is the relief), to boring gyms (is the pain)
The antidote (is the relief) to scattergun Marketing Advice (is the pain)
Each tagline acts like a little pill for the brain.
If you’re paying attention, you’ll notice the way they’re structured is more ‘relief–pain’, than ‘pain-relief’. 'No More’ is a relief, ‘Tears’ is a pain). for example. However, it doesn’t matter which way round the pain is or the relief is as long as you have an element of pain or relief in there.
All we need to do is deliver a few catchy words that promise to take the customers’ problem away.
This all sounds neat and tidy: you find a pain, then you find a solution to that pain to give relief.
However, life isn’t always neat and tidy, is it? That’s because, to find a pain or to find a relief, we must do a bit of legwork first. We must find a pain that somebody feels – and is not made up in our minds. And the best way to do that is by talking to at least one customer and asking them about the pain they have when it comes to the product you are selling.
If you sell children’s shampoo, talk to someone who buys shampoo for their children and you’ll find the pain that children have is crying during bath time when the soap stings their eyes. That’s why Johnson & Johnson created need ’No More Tears' shampoo.
If you run a gym, go and talk to someone who loves exercising and you might find that their pain is that gyms are dull which makes them give up their membership and exercise elsewhere. That’s why Gymbox gyms in London created ’The Antidote To Boring Gyms’.
If you sell marketing advice, talk to someone who needs it and you might find someone who is fed up with the pain of random and contradictory marketing advice that’s online. Well, I did, and that’s why at the Brain Wheel we created a book about ’The Antidote To Scattergun Marketing Advice’.
If you sell chocolate, talk to a chocolate lover, and you might find a mum who gets annoyed with their kids having chocolate that melts in their hands which then goes on the walls. That’s might be why M&Ms created chocolate that melts in your mouth, not in your hand.
To get to a problem isn’t difficult.
You find one person who really wants what you sell, you find their biggest pain and then put the phrase: 'No More…' in front of it. Or ’The Antidote to…’. Or 'Our product does this, not this’.
Johnson & Johnson, for example, could have written ’The Antidote to tears at bath time’, or ‘Make bath time playtime, not tear time’, not just ’No More Tears’
'No More Tears’, ’The Antidote to…’. or ‘Our product does this, not this’.
Three nice handy templates that you can use today, right now, without thinking about it too much. It will get you the result that you might be looking for if you’re struggling for a tagline and your brain has been whirring 24/7 about creating one.
However, there is a big catch: we humans aren’t very good at wanting to talk to a customer.
We think that we can make it up on the spot, or invent pains in our mind, or rely on some clever Google keyword tools. Maybe it’s fear of not wanting to talk to somebody or bother a customer. Or a place of laziness, or plain old inexperience.
But when you pick up the phone or meet somebody face to face, you can talk to them, to quiz them about the pains and frustrations they have.
But when you get on with the important business of talking to someone, something funny happens, something unexpected.
You hear that person say something that you’d never expect. They’ll use a word or phrase that you couldn’t have imagined by sitting at your desk. A word or phrase that reframes the problem and the pain that you are looking for.
And when this happens, the change to your tagline is beautiful to watch.
When I wrote my sales page for my book ‘The Science Of Getting Chosen’, I spoke with a friend and client called Richard, to find out his pain when I came to getting the right marketing advice.
We chatted for a while over a cup of tea and some sweet potato fries (don’t ask me why, they seem to go together).
Richard said how tired he was with confusing scattergun marketing advice. Now, I had heard lots of pains about the gurus online who charge you a fortune and deliver an empty fortune cookie’s worth of advice in return. But the word ’scattergun’, I had never heard used to describe this problem but it made so much sense.
Yes, it was Rich’s pain, but it was a big relatable pain that wasn't just Rich's, but other customers’ pain too.
And it was now a pain to plug into my tagline for selling my book fresh from a client’s mouth: The Antidote to Scattergun Marketing Advice.
You might think that it’s a risk relying on one person to find this big relatable pain.
And in many ways, it seems like it. But when you find one person who feels a problem, unless they’re mad as a box of frogs, they’ll express that pain in a way that others can understand.
If you think about it, we humans have a survival need to be able to express a pain and for people to be able to understand and empathise with us. If you say “I’ve got a headache and my head is throbbing”, people who have had headaches know what a “throbbing headache” feels like.
If you’ve got no money in the bank and you say, “I'm poorer than a church mouse whose wife has run away with all the cheese” (a line from the TV show Blackadder), you might not use that phrase in your life, but you know what it feels like and how it feels to be skint.
When you speak to different people with a shared pain, they’ll express it in different ways.
And that’s a good thing for your tagline. It’s a good thing because they use different words to say the same things. And when you have different words that you couldn’t have made up yourself, you have words that are different from the competition and get attention.
And, here’s the secret thing: if you want to get to the really rich, emotional words, talk to them for a while.
Keep asking ‘why, ‘how does that make you feel’, and ’what problems does that cause you in daily life’ and then you’ll get unique, and interesting language that breathes life into a tagline, and a sales page, and how you think of your product or service.
That’s where you’ll find your emotional acupuncture point.
I spent years working for marketing agencies and large brands and I can promise you that of all the award-winning case studies, best practice papers and my direct experience about businesses that do well, it starts by talking with customers in depth. Often, a big idea for their marketing comes from one surprising comment in a focus group or interview.
When you hear that word or phrase (yes it’s always out there you just have to look), everything changes.
There’s no going back to where you were with your tagline and the problem that you thought you are solving. So, get out there, take an hour out of your day, dust off those walking boots, head down to the local coffee shop and meet a customer or client.
Find that one big relatable pain, that pain that will make any tagline catchy.
Well, there we go for today. Things to be getting on with and kids and pregnant wives to take care of.
Before we go, remember one way (of many) that you can get to a tagline without going crazy.
• Find a pain from one person that lives that pain (and that others will relate to)
• Try out the template: 'No More...’ Or ’The Antidote to…’. Or 'Our product does this, not this’
Then you’ll have a catchy tagline and you won’t be going crazy 24/7 :)
Simon | The Chief Brain