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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

6 Things I Learned About Hooks and Marketing from a Minstrel

Over Memorial Day weekend, my family and I took a mini-vacation to Redding, CA, mainly because of a previously-bought, about-to-expire Groupon. We decided to go once again to the Sundial Bridge in the heart of the city, one of our favorite touristy attractions.

I didn't expect to get a lesson in marketing and writing a hook, but get a lesson I did, courtesy of one of the troubadours set up there.

First, we saw this guy:

Talented violinist. Young. Good looking. Lots of things going for him. But his violin case was practically empty.

But there was another guy, a guitar player, whose guitar case was seriously struggling to keep up with the overflow of cash. He was also young. Good looking. Talented.

What makes the guy above, whose name is Mitch Thomas Neal, so different from the first guy?

The answer is obvious. Mitch is the better MARKETER.

I took some time to really analyze how Mitch was pulling in the cash, and came up with six things writers can learn from him.

1) Create a hook with universal appeal.

Most everyone in the world has had money problems. We might not have needed money to get married, but we can relate to wanting/needing something and not having the money to buy/get it.

Here's Mitch's hook up close:

What hard heart among us could refuse to help this attractive, stand-up guy with a great voice marry the love of his life? He selected a very beautiful photo of his lucky lady which aided him in capturing the interest of every person heading over the bridge.

2) Takes a personal angle. 

If you haven't been married, you at least know people who have been. His plea tugs on our inner heartstrings that long for lifelong happiness and love and peace and all good things. By giving him a dollar or two, you'd be contributing to this ethereal concept.

3) Pique curiosity.

I wanted to know several things right off the bat: Who is this guy? What brought him to the Sundial Bridge? Does his girlfriend know he's doing this? 

4) Have a visual congruent with your message. 

Cover art isn't the be-all end-all, but it does play a part in whether someone will buy in to what you're trying to sell. Mitch's "cover art" was attractive. If he'd had a picture of an unattractive girl, he wouldn't have gotten as much money, I feel sure.

5) Evoke a call to action.

I passed Mitch and told my husband, "I want to give him money." What would make a reader pass your book on the shelf and say, "I want to pay my hard-earned money for that book?" The answer is that the book captures their attention in a way that is applicable or helpful to their life, or to the life of someone they know. Mitch standing there with a winsome smile didn't hurt, either. Either way, I was presented with a choice, not a bland interpretation of what Mitch hoped for...but a clear expectation.

6) Easily accessible to everyone. 

Mitch set up at the entrance to the Sundial Bridge. The other guy crossed over to the other side (which likely was because Mitch had already taken the golden spot). Everyone coming to the bridge was given no choice about whether to be exposed to Mitch or not. He was just there, and as a result, got more bills.

If you're interested, Mitch is a Christian songwriter trying to get his music off the ground. You can check out and "like" his facebook link here, but I also wanted to give him a shout out (told you I would, Mitch!) and give you a couple of links to listen to him should you have the time and inclination. He's got a great acoustic sound, clear voice...just really talented. Here's his song, Better Than I Thought, on SoundCloud (one of my favs).

Below is a video of him singing another song: It All Comes Together in the End.

Let's Analyze: Have you ever learned something from a least expected source? Give it up in the comments.