Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3-Second World by out-of-the-box thinker Brendan Kane breaks down the most effective strategies to generate new opportunities, innovate and scale your business, and create a compelling brand – both online and off – so you can thrive in the new micro-attention world in which we live.

A lot of people know who they are, what they do, and a few even know why they do it – but even when brands or individuals have clarity in these areas, they often struggle to grab a potential audience’s attention for long enough to get them to learn about their attributes. Others have amazing products or services that fail to achieve great success because they don’t know how to talk about what they do effectively. This is because digital and social media have reshaped our world into one of micro-attention.

John, Adeela and I discuss our favorite examples from the book (and from real life!)  in this episode.

From Amazon:

There are more than 60 billion messages shared on digital platforms each day, and the average person is exposed to between 4,000 to 10,000 ads a day. This bombardment of stimuli has changed the way we communicate and market content both online and off. In fact, research shows that you have less than three seconds to capture a person’s attention. With such a short window of time, we need to hook audiences quickly, efficiently, and consistently if we want to successfully fuel brand awareness and growth.

Luckily, Brendan Kane, a thinker and strategist who’s built platforms for celebrities like Taylor Swift and Rhianna and worked with Fortune 500 companies like Paramount, Viacom, and MTV, has mastered the art of standing out. In Hook Point: How to Stand Out in a 3-Second World, he reveals the power of hook points – a communication tool that helps marketers package their messages in a succinct, attention-grabbing way that leads to better opportunities both online and off. Whether you’re promoting a brand, product, or service, this book is the essential guide for making it in our three-second world.

Paula Williams: Welcome to this week’s episode. Our chances of remaining on the air for the duration of this episode are somewhat dubious, given what we’re hearing from our internet company today. I’m Paula Williams.

John Williams: I’m John Williams.

Paula: We are ABCI. ABCI’s mission is.

John: To help everybody in the aerospace industry, sell more of their products and services.

Paula: Absolutely. Today we’re talking about Hook Point by Brendan Kane. Brendan Kane is also famous for the 1 million followers in 30 days book which I hated. This book is not so bad, so I did not have high hopes for this one. But it is easier to show than to tell what a Hook Point is at least according to the definition of the book.

Actually, it is an excellent, amazing, fabulous, powerful concept. He’s got some excellent, amazing, fabulous, and powerful examples. In the book, read just a little tiny bit here from the very beginning, there are so many people, and this is actually a quote from Gary Vaynerchuk who is also one of our favorite people. “There are so many people who are wasting money in marketing every single day because they’re chasing what used to work. But the reality is the tactic that used to work yesterday will put you out of business today.”

That’s why a Hook Point is so important. This is something that we get a lot of resistance from our aviation marketing people because we work with a lot of engineers and very technical people and people who want to tell everybody everything all at once, right?

John: Yep.

Paula: Okay. A Hook Point can be text, it can be a phrase, a title, or a piece of copy. It can be an insight, a statistic, a philosophy, a person’s thought, an image, or a video. It can be a personality or a performance. It can actually be a beat drop from a piece of music that is instantly recognizable. The Star Wars theme is a Hook Point a cadence, a product or a service, or a combination of all of these things. But what it is, is it is a distillation of an idea into its simplest form, right?

John: In other words, kiss.

Paula: Yeah.

John: Keep it simple, sweetheart.

Paula: Keep it simple, sweetheart. That’s the nice way of putting it, right? There are a lot of these that are really helpful. I’m going to share an example from the book. Okay. Also, Hook Points can be used for better or for worse. In the example of using it for better. I don’t know if you know this story. Do you know how toothpaste came to be in modern usage or common usage in the United States?

In the 1920s, there was a gentleman called Claude Hopkins, one of the pioneers of advertising and modern-day marketing. One of the most famous stories about Hopkins is working for Pepsodent toothpaste, right?

John: Yep.

Paula: In the 1920s, Pepsodent approached Hopkins and he started writing about how you could improve your appearance without spending a lot of money. This was a big deal in the 1920s because nobody had any money, right? But you could afford toothpaste, so you may not be able to afford to get your hair done. You may not be able to afford nice clothes, all of those things, but you could afford toothpaste.

Prior to this, and this sounds absolutely disgusting, but prior to this, people didn’t brush their teeth, or if they did, they used baking soda, or something else. But people didn’t sell toothbrushes and they didn’t sell toothpaste in the United States. It was just not a thing. And then in the 1920s, they started featuring PinUp Girls and Men in the service. They were the celebrities at the time on billboards and other advertising.

By the time they said by 1957, the jingle was everywhere. “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush with Pepsodent.”

John: I remember that.

Paula: This is absolutely true. We know from Mickey’s experience in the Peace Corps in Morocco, there are a lot of people that still don’t brush their teeth in the world. It’s just not a thing unless they are marketed to or were marketed to. The Peace Corps now is doing the marketing that Claude Hopkins did in the United States in the 1920s. That’s an example of a Hook Point, just making it super simple. You can look better without spending a lot of money. That was the Hook Point, right? Okay. Here’s a bad example,

John: No, it’s an example of a bad way to do it.

Paula: An example of a way to do it for evil. Any power can be used for good or evil.

Woman: Hi. How are you [inaudible]

Paula: Happy to see you.

Woman: Thank you so much. It’s actually 2:00 AM in the morning.

Paula: Oh, goodness.

Woman: Actually, but I just got a notification and I just wanted to attend a book club because I wanted to learn so I thought I should not miss it.

Paula: Great. Well, I’m glad you’re here, and we are having some technical issues on our end. I’m hoping that this is all will work well and things. But anyway, so this is an example of a bad Hook Point. We’re, of course reading Brendan Kane’s book this month.

Woman: [inaudible]

Paula: Right. George Washington Hill, the president of the American Tobacco Company, asked Bernays how they could get more women to smoke. Bernays contacted psychoanalyst Abraham Brill, who disclosed that to a feminist, a cigarette could symbolize nonconformity and freedom from male oppression. Bernays decided to get media attention in a natural way that wouldn’t look like advertising which was something that was revolutionary at the time.

He chose to do it at the biggest social event of the season, the New York City Easter Day parade of 1929. They hired society people who would have floats there. A group of debutantes who would be the equivalent of the Paris Hiltons and Kim Kardashians of the day Bernays contacted the press the day before the parade and told them that a group of women’s rights marchers would be lighting torches of freedom at the parade.

He gave the debutantes and other women packs of Lucky Strike cigarettes, and they were instructed not to light them until after they had crossed the street where he had photographers eagerly waiting to take pictures. April 1, 1929, the New York Times reported on the event and wrote “Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of Freedom.” That was the headline in the New York Times that day.

So much power is used for such a terrible purpose. It can be used for better or for worse, but in either case, it was super effective. What this book is about is kind of about how to construct and test a Hook Point, right?

One other example is that there is a group of doctors that call themselves ear, nose, and throat doctor the technical or the English term. It’s very difficult to pronounce a very complicated concept of how the ears, the nose, the throat, and everything are connected, and how it all works together to keep you healthy. There is one doctor Michael Bruce, who is known as the sleep doctor, and that’s his Hook Point.

He takes all of that stuff, ears, nose, throat, snoring, gastrointestinal problems, heartburn, all of the things that keep people up at night, and just simplified it to one term, the sleep doctor, right? It is so much more effective. But the interesting thing about him is that once he started calling himself the sleep doctor, every other doctor on the planet hated it, right?

He developed strong positive recognition from his customers, but the backlash came from people in the field. His colleagues thought he was implying that he was the best sleep doctor in the field or the only one who did this type of work so there was a lot of jealousy. He was pushed out of many professional circles. He wasn’t invited to conferences in his area of expertise. It took somewhere between about 5 and 10 years for people to stop calling him a charlatan or sellout, even though he was practicing the same type of medicine that these other doctors were practicing.

The only difference is he was calling himself the sleep doctor, and the others felt like that was either inaccurate or inappropriate or bragging or something like that. When you’re creating a Hook Point, you’re going to have your customers probably react strongly in a positive way, but you may have your colleagues react strongly in a negative way. I think that happens a lot, or at least that’s what people fear in the aviation industry because you get these people who are literally rocket scientists, and they don’t call themselves rocket scientists.

They call them something that has 14 syllables in it, their specialty is something much more specific than rocket science. But the way that they explain things is just so complicated that the average person is not going to spend the energy to understand what it is that they do.

John: I do have an example,

Paula: Okay. Of course, you do. Everybody does.

John: Our contractor, his company name is Honeydew Pro.

Paula: That’s on his T-shirts, that’s on everything that he does and it’s a Honeydew Pro.

John: Yep.

Paula: A professional who does all the honey doos around the house.

John: Right. People call him up and say, “Can you?” He says, “Of course.” It just takes time and money.

Paula: Yeah, exactly.

John: His schedule’s filled from the time he did that to current.

Paula: Yeah, which is absolutely true. Now, we’re having a hard time getting him back because he is got so much work that he has a hard time doing ours. How about you? Did you have any examples or anything that comes to mind?

Woman: Right now. I know the example is coming to mind, but one thing I would like to say is that you see that in the doctor example that you quoted, although he was a doctor, he combined the sales techniques to market himself. This shows us that even if we are like innovation and we’re in technical feed until we combine the sales techniques in it, we’ll not be able to sell ourselves.

This is the major thing that many aviation professionals need to understand as well, although they’re very powerful, they’re very skillful in their field, they need personal branding, and they need [auditio cutting out] is one thing we can learn from the doctor’s example.

Paula: That’s absolutely true. I love that example because you know, if it were me, I would think, I don’t need an ear, nose, and throat doctor, but I can’t sleep. I do need a sleep doctor if I can’t sleep. It puts you in the shoes of your customer and says, “You know, what do you need? I don’t need your nose and throat doctor, I need sleep.”

Woman: Also, his popularity also spread because of word of mouth, and the word sleep became associated with it. It’s a very good way that he chooses for his marketing.

Paula: Absolutely. This reminds me of a story of a conversation that I have at least once a week with our customers. The more famous example is Steve Jobs and Johnny Ive. Johnny Ive was Steve Jobs’s advertising guy. Steve Jobs, of course, is famous for Apple which simplifies products. They didn’t invent the MP3 player, they didn’t invent the cell phone, they did not invent the tablet. They didn’t invent the personal computer, but you would think that they did because they made these things so popular.

This conversation was early in Apple’s beginnings. They didn’t have a lot of money. Steve Jobs was making a big investment in a full-page newspaper ad and he’s like, “Well, we’re spending a lot of money on this, so I really need to get my money’s worth. Let’s put this in and this in and this in and this in, and make sure that we make all these points and explain all this stuff.”

Johnny Ive, took five sheets of paper and them up into a ball, went the balls, right? He had five of these sheets of paper and he threw one of them at Steve Jobs, right? He said, “Catch that.” Of course, Steve Jobs caught it, and then he took five balls of paper and said, “Okay, that’s great, but now catch these,” and you threw the five balls, right? Steve Jobs was batting them around the room and didn’t catch any of them.

He said, “That is why this advertisement needs to make one point, and it needs to make it very simple because people can only catch one thing at a time.” That really summarizes to me, and that example wasn’t even in the book, but that’s the example to me that comes to mind about a Hook Point and why it is so important. People are so busy, even if they’re flipping through a newspaper, they’re not going to read the whole sheet unless there is something, unless there is a Hook Point that grabs their attention and pulls them in. People say, “Well, everybody has such a short attention span these days.” That is not true.

John: Well, what you have to do is you have to keep the headlines simple. If you keep the headlines, that’s why people spend 45 minutes trying to determine a headline in 15 minutes on the document,

Paula: On writing the document. The headline is everything.

John: Yes.

Paula: The hook is everything. In a video, it’s the first three seconds in a text or a post or an article or anything like that, it’s the headline in an email, it’s the subject line, all of those things. But people do not have a short attention span these days. We just spent two hours watching Yellowstone last night, and we have spent hours watching Yellowstone. It’s because that hook at the beginning of each episode and at the end of each episode hooks you into the next one.

The first five seconds or the last five seconds make you go, I have to find out what happens next. Five seconds is actually a long time, that you have time to read an entire sentence, but if you can bring it down to two words, like free solo or save money or the sleep doctor or something like that, that just makes it thousand times more effective. Anyway, that was my thought about Hook Point.

Woman: Go ahead. I was reading, I had this book my brother bought it. A Rich Dad. You must have heard of it. I always thought that this is going to be a very boring book and I never read it. Then one day I just opened it and it was a long time ago, but I opened it and I know that the first line, it was such a storytelling in it, and the hope was so good that I realized. Okay, he is telling about finances, like how to manage finances, such a boring topic, but he tells it in a story and the hope was so good that at least I’ve read up to two to three chapters that day. Hope matters a lot and also you carried the story and everything,

Paula: Right. Yeah. That’s Robert Kiyosaki, right? Rich Dad Poor Dad.

Woman: I don’t remember the writer. It was such a long time ago.

Paula: Right. No, that’s a great book. He even has a board game that teaches personal finance that we used to play with our kids when they were younger because it’s like Monopoly except it’s a little bit more realistic, it has to buy a TV and then you’re making payments for years, and things like that. It’s a really good lesson. I’m sorry.

John: They use current events.

Paula: Yeah. They use more current events than Monopoly, which is silly. No, that’s a good example. Rat Race is another great example of a Hook Point. It’s something, everybody knows what that is and they feel it, you talk about the rat race and they go, “Oh yeah.” That is something that really causes me a lot of stress because I’m trying to get off the hamster wheel. I’m trying to get ahead so that my finances aren’t controlling me, so I’m controlling my finances very much information in one phrase, or two words really.

That’s a great example. Just to wrap up really quickly, I had very low expectations of the book. I thought it was going to be like Brendan Kane’s last book, which was Get a million followers in 30 days, which I thought was really spammy and useless because it doesn’t matter if you get a thousand followers or a million followers in 30 days if they are not the right people. I thought he was putting quantity over quality, and so I thought this book was going to be the same not true. This actually was very much worth reading and really good information. I’ll give it 8 out of 10.

John: Good for you.

Paula: Next month, Content Inc by Joe Pulizzi. We’ve read his books before, I’m expecting that this one will be good. I haven’t started it yet.