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Hook, line and sinker: how to do marketing (part one of many)

As it’s August and everyone is on holiday, I’m going to deviate a little bit from my usual daily blogging and talk about two other things:

  • How to do sales and marketing
  • How to explain FinTech to your kids

You may wonder how I can talk about how to do sales and marketing, but didn’t you know? Doesn’t it show? I have a background in sales and marketing. Marketing I describe as creating tomorrow’s sales, but then there was a marketing peer who described me as The Page 3 Marketeer. The comment is that my marketing is more suited to a tabloid newspaper than a serious business organisation.

Why? Because I believed in the hook, line and sinker. The hook is the headline; the line is the first paragraph; the sinker is the detail. It’s my way of marketing, and I still use it now (check my blogs).

The hook is 10 words or less. It’s the headline. It’s the elevator statement. It’s the clickbait.

  • We save you millions in making payments
  • We make it easy for you to get paid online
  • We allow you to trade with friends and make millions
  • We make your business work faster and better

In each case, the aim is to get your audience to ask you to explain what you mean. That’s the hook.

The line is then the next discussion, and would be a short paragraph outline that explains the hook in a compelling way.

  • We save you millions in making payments by removing the overheads of the four-pillar issuer-aquirier system and connecting you directly with the buyer (as a seller)
  • We make it easy for you to get paid online by providing simple software that allows anyone to get paid online anywhere
  • We allow you to trade with friends and make millions by creating a transparent market where you can see who is making money and how online, all-the-time
  • We make your business work faster and better because we create an end-to-end view of your supply chain where you can see who is doing what, where, all-the-time

The line draws you in. The sinker is then having the back-ups and references to these statements.

  • We saved ABC Co $100 million a year, and here’s the case study
  • We have allowed 100,000 companies to get online in less than ten minutes each, and here’s how
  • We enabled 10 million people to trade on the internet and make money, and this is the detail
  • We connected a million companies to supply chains worldwide and this is what they’re doing

Hook, line and sinker.

I’ll give you two practical examples from my days of when I had a proper job.

The first was when I met the head of transportation, who took great pride in claiming that the company was the industry’s best kept secret. As a marketing guy that already irritated me. The head of transport then turned to me and said: you know we were the company that put a man on the moon?

I didn’t know that, but thought it was a great line, so asked him to explain. Apparently the company had supplied all the compute power to NASA for the Gemini and Apollo moonshots in the 1960s. I asked him why that wasn’t discussed anymore? He said it was because it’s old news. I asked whether the company still worked with NASA? He said yes. The company still worked with NASA, and provided all the computing power to do Space Shuttle simulations. This was back in 2000 and yet, even now, I remember being stunned that none of the company’s marketing mentioned this.

In another discussion back then, I was talking with the head of the computer platform group, who was telling me that we had wired the Queen. I said what? He explained that the company had done all the wiring for Horseguards Parade. Horseguards Parade is a Grade I listed historic site, which means you cannot do anything that might damage the properties. It turned out that the company had laid many kilometres of wiring to connect Buckingham Palace to the internet invisibly. We wired the Queen.

I ended up using these lines to build a number of marketing campaigns.


  • We wired the Queen
  • We put a man on the Moon


  • We laid 100 kilometres of wiring across London to get the Queen on the internet
  • We provided all the compute power for the Apollo missions and still work with NASA today


Here’s the case studies.

Page Three Marketing?

Nah. It’s hook, line and sinker.


About Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog, TheFinanser.com, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal’s Financial News. To learn more click here...

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