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Posts Tagged ‘Frank Luntz

Title: Words that Work.  It’s not what you say, it’s what people hear.

Author: Dr. Frank Luntz­

Pub Date: Dec, 2006My colleagues over at the Kauffman Foundation recommended reading this book.  Definitely worth a read, and can get through it in a weekend.


Frank Luntz, a political consultant and pollster, knows how to pick just the right words to make a compelling case for whatever he’s shelping.  He uses lots of examples throughout of how one small word can make a big difference.

What I like at Luntz’s approach is that he focuses primarily on the listener (the audience).  He tries to get inside their head to hear the message from their perspective, then select just the right words to make his case or get his point across in a way that the audience can hear.

What he says isn’t revolutionary – basically your messages must focus on the benefits to your audience and the results you’ll deliver.  What is new is the depth with which he understands and explores the individual words we use.

Some tidbits:

  • “…tell consumers something that gives them a brand new take on an old idea.  The combination of surprise and intrigue creates a compelling message.”  Your objective is to generate an “I didn’t know that” response.
  • Focus on results not process.  For example, Luntz found that “getting value for government” was much better received than “limited government”.  One focuses on results the other is process oriented.
  • “A ‘service’ helps you live with a problem.  A ‘solution’ alleviates the problem.”

Best piece of advice:

How to avoid a ticket:  Create a hassle-free environment.

  1. First, recognize the police officer’s authority and superiority.
  2. Acknowledge your guilt.
  3. Turn off your engine, roll down the window, put both hands on the wheel where the cop can see them with your license and registration, and turn on the dome light if it’s dark.
  4. Say, “I’m sorry.” Don’t argue or make up excuses.

I tried it. It worked.

Business take-away:

It’s not enough to have the right solution, the best technology, or the only answer.  You must present it in a way that convinces your audience that it solves their problem.

  • Create personas for your target customers.  They’ll help you focus on what your audience wants and not what you want to tell them.
  • Remember that business people are people first.  Write to them, not at them.
  • Simple, straight talk wins out over complex marketing messages.
  • Speak to results first, and how later.

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