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How do you find ‘the hook’?

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I talked yesterday about how to do my layer cake for a hook, line and sinker marketing structure.

It made me remember generating this approach so I dug out an old document that discussed how to generate a hook. The hook is meant to be thrown to get the fish interested. What hook can we throw out in business to get customers interested?

The hook is not just a benefits statement, but a range of in the round statements that all work together as you get into the lines of the cake. It starts with statements of credibility, capability and value. These statements combine to form the hook, and are the middle of the cake: the lines.

The hook starts with a value proposition that summarises in less than ten words the unique selling points and differentiation of the product.  One of the best hooks ever generated is the Gillette Mach 3 launch back in the 1990s with the slogan “three blades, fewer strokes, less irritation”.

This clearly set the product apart and gained major market share as a result.  Most hooks are built from a detailed set of base criteria, represented in credibility statements, capability statements and value statements.

Credibility Statements

Credibility statements provide key information about the strength of an organisation, its size and breadth of customers and revenues, the excellence of its people and systems.  The hook in the Gillette Mach 3 statement is three blades. Good examples are numerous, but ABC Corp has clear credibility statements that they push in all marketing materials, press releases and website:

ABC Corp

  • more than 20,000 clients in over 50 countries
  • 47 of the world’s 50 largest financial services institutions.
  • $15 trillion in investment assets worldwide are accounted for and managed daily on ABC Corp systems
  • Financial intermediaries process over 3 million transactions on ABC Corp daily
  • 70% of NASDAQ trades flow through ABC Corp systems

Capability Statements

Capability statements tend to be product-centric, and focus upon highlighting the feature, functionality and technical benefits of the product being offered.  The capability of the Gillette Mach 3 statement is fewer strokes. These are used in many software organisations and are best exemplified by ABC Corp.

ABC Corp

  • First database to pass 15 industry standard security evaluations
  • First native XML support in a relational database
  • First fully integrated relational and multidimensional database
  • First database with table compression on Unix, NT and Linux
  • First complete and integrated business intelligence platform

Value Statements

Value statements focus upon the benefits of the solutions and products offered.  The value statement of the Gillette Mach 3 is less irritation. In B2B marketing, these statements are normally cost-based, but should also take into account any revenue increase, customer relationship, employee management and related benefits identified.  CRM firms, such as ABC Corp and Siebel, ten to be extremely good at using such statements.

ABC Corp

  • 50% increase in responses to followed up leads, Advance Bank
  • Response rates of 38% to 50%, Banco Populare di Navara
  • 14 million contacts per year, with response rates up from 10% to in excess of 25%, Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Savings of more than $700,000 in the first year and incremental revenue is more than $1.5 million per year, Royal Bank of Scotland

From these statements, you can generate the hook.

ABC Corp: global services, trusted technology, guaranteed results

But that's a bit dull. I still prefer Page 3 Marketing:

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

It’s the elevator statement that’s meant to draw you in to asking: please explain. Then you get into the lines of the statements. By the time you’ve got through the lines, you can present the detail of each line, which is the sinker. Simples!

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, 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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