Producing Results Blog

Does Your Business Have a “Hook”?

Posted by:

You’ve got a nice little business with all the things that a nice little business requires: a great product or service, a company web site, maybe even an expensive sales and marketing campaign. The only problem is, you’re not getting the customers. You’ve built it, but they’re not coming. What’s the problem?

You have no hook.

One of the primary reasons for the Beatles’ enduring success is that, above almost anything else, those boys could write a hook! Some little musical idea that instantly drew you in and made you think, “I’ve got to listen to more of this!” Think about these examples:

  • The haunting mellotron (on the flute setting) that opens Strawberry Fields Forever
  • The unforgettable guitar riff that IS Daytripper
  • The barrage of drums that catapults us into She Loves You (or, on a later album, Birthday)
  • That chord—the most famous guitar chord in the world—that announces the beginning of A Hard Day’s Night
  • McCartney’s exuberant “One, two, three, FAWR!” that propels us into the very first song, I Saw Her Standing There, of their very first album

In each of these cases, and dozens more, the Beatles created something so compelling that you just have to keep listening!

Merv Griffin, the creator of the TV game show Wheel of Fortune, was once asked why the show was so successful. He said, “I think it’s because if you’re walking past a TV set and you see one of Wheel’s puzzles on the screen, it’s almost impossible not to stop and try to solve it.” That’s the kind of hook that helped make Merv one of the richest people in show business.

“But Bill,” you whine, “I’m not a songwriter or a TV producer. What does this have to do with me?”

Plenty (and stop whining).

Any place your business comes into contact with your customer, you have the opportunity to create a hook. It could be a slogan or a brand promise. “Pizza in 30 minutes or it’s free” is a powerful hook. It could be a cleverly designed web site that really shows off your company’s sense of humor. (For example, check out my colleague Mike Rowe’s site at Or it could be the unique way your employees approach what others would see as a mundane job. (Just look at how the guys at Seattle’s now world-famous Pike Place Fish put their little seafood store on the map!)

I don’t know what it is for you. You’ve got to figure that out for yourself. And I know that some of you may still be thinking, “This whole ‘hook’ thing sounds kind of like a gimmick, and I don’t do gimmicks.” Fair enough. I can’t force you to find a hook for your business (not legally, at least). All I’m saying is that if your competition finds a hook and you don’t, don’t come crying to me when they get all the customers.

But don’t take my word for it. Just ask any of the thousands of bands who tried to compete with the Beatles.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
  Related Posts

Add a Comment