In Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Daysthe late founder of guerrilla marketing, Jay Conrad Levinson, and guerrilla marketing expert, Al Lautenslager offer a dynamic marketing blueprint to help business owners attract more customers and maximize profits. In this edited excerpt, the authors explain how to make your marketing hooks stand out from the crowd.

As a business owner, your goal is to hook the prospects in your marketing pond (i.e., your target audience). But to hook customers, you must have interesting bait. This is where understanding your market's needs, wants, characteristics, habits and preferences becomes very important. You must do your research to get this information before you develop your hook.

A hook is not the whole offering: It's a tease, a sample and a mental appetizer. The hook should give your prospects just enough taste to leave them wanting more. Information is an ideal hook because the cost of developing this type of hook is relatively low or nonexistent. Let's look at some examples:

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  • For a chocolate candy company: Contact us today for a free recipe booklet using our candy bars to create outrageous desserts.
  • For a health products company: Email us today for your free height/weight/blood pressure and cholesterol chart.

When customers taking the hook, they're giving you permission to follow up and market more to them (the hooked prospect)--just like the fish that took the bait is giving you permission to do something further (throw back or pull it in). The fish might not agree 100 percent with this statement.

A memorable hook attracts attention to you, your message and your business. There are things that can make your hook more memorable:

  • Hooks can announce new information.
  • Hooks should be surprising. Catching a prospect off guard gets attention.
  • Hooks can be emotional or exclamatory.
  • Hooks can promise a benefit or a solution.

Hooks can come in the form of jingles, tag lines and memorable ad content. You probably can list five to 10 tag lines with no problem. It's sometimes remembered more than the product itself. Look what "Just Do It" did for Nike.

But Nike is a big business. Let's "guerrillaize" this concept and look at how some small businesses can hook prospective purchasers:

  • Dentist: Just relax. We know the drill.
  • Bakery: A fresh approach to your morning.
  • Plumber: We are your security plumber. No leaks anywhere.
  • Financial planner: Your peace of mind is a piece of our mind.
  • Caterer: We'll make you the guest, not the host, at your own party.
  • Body shop: We're the one for you when you run into old friends or strangers.
  • Appliance store: We cook it, we clean it, we chill it.
  • Car wash/detailer: Leave the details to us.
  • Orthodontist: We'll give you the straight talk.
  • Cleaning service: We do the dirty work.
  • Sub sandwich shop: Made with nice warm buns.

Hooks are just as important for online marketing. Some of the more popular hooks online include a coupon, contests, free downloads, free consultations and free ezine subscriptions. Once you get a prospect or, in this case, a browser to take one of those hooks, your probability of converting them to a paying client increases significantly.

Evan Geiselhart, president of Home Trust Mortgage in Schaumburg, Illinois, offers a chance to pay one month's mortgage payment for the visitors to his website in exchange for their email and permission to communicate with them on an ongoing basis. People are hooked by this offer and generally sign up.

Hooks can also be something you do differently in your business that's noticeable. That's what was in the mind of the first hotel that offered free newspapers at the doorstep of every room each morning. Now most do it. Think of the restaurant that offers free coffee with every dessert purchase. People remember that one. That's a hook.

A hook can be an offer of something of value to customers and prospects. Many times this takes the shape of information: special report, top-ten list, checklist, article, white paper, etc. Catching the attention of prospects increases the chance that the hook will do its job. Here are the titles of some examples of a special report that you can craft for your audience:

  • 7 Mistakes People Make When Choosing a (insert your business here)_
  • Before You Purchase (insert your product or service here) You Should Read This Report
  • This Is What Our Competition Won't Tell You About (insert your industry or product or service here)

A marketing hook is a start. It holds your bait. It's a taste of more to come. "Leave them begging for more" was never truer than it is with a marketing hook. The best part is the cost. A marketing hook costs you nothing. Just put your mind to it, think out of the box and let your mind wander.