You have refined your personal value propositions using the techniques of exponential differentiation and the Three Circles. You have even developed a punchy tag line and hook for your email signature and business card with a slightly modified version for verbal delivery during mixers and industry events.
This article will introduce the MAC technique of checking your tag line against important criteria that ensure successful delivery and retention of your one-line mini-resume. The three-letter acronym MAC stands for
- Approachable and
Memorable – Using ancient brain filters to stand out and be remembered
The human brain has an amazing ability to filter environmental inputs for things that are critical to our survival. Moving objects receive preferential attention over static ones, things that are colorful draw our attention more so than drab items, and anything that threatens or potentially aids survival of ourselves or our genes is given top-shelf priority. How can we use these evolutionary facts in personal value communication? Adding elements of color, motion, personal and property risk and survival all boost memorability and retention.
Compare the two value propositions / tag lines below
- “I deliver comprehensive telecommunications solutions, including expert cabling, end point configuration and user training”
- “I make sure my clients never miss that million dollar phone call”
The thought of missing a million dollar phone call is pretty scary (and memorable) as it sets off alarm bells related to the survival instinct. This makes it a powerful agent to arouse the natural curiosity of the listener and provide an opportunity to explain how – exactly – the telecommunications expert could provide similar peace of mind to other prospective clients.
Approachable – De-jargonify your pitch
Management buzzwords, acronyms and technical jargon can make your tag line and hook ineffective as they may distract, confuse or even turn off your audience. As previously discussed in my post on the differences between written and spoken communication, you should carefully evaluate your tag line for its “authenticity factor.” If it sounds too stilted, overly slick or rehearsed, the listener may question your motives and wonder about the authenticity of your communication. Excessive use of industry jargon and especially acronyms can lead to a feeling of exclusion and intimidation in the uninitiated. So, drop the buzzwords and jargon and replace them with common, everyday words.
- “I provide expert advice on the implementation of IPv6 smart devices with a special focus on low-power NFC for smart grid peak-shifting and peak-shaving as well as OSS/BSS integration”
- “I can make your power and water meter really smart to save you tons of money in utility bills and cut down on global warming”
Credible – If it sounds too good to be true…
I recently met a very gregarious individual at a business mixer who had clearly spent a lot of time preparing his networking pitch. His opener (or hook) was short, clear and to the point with a seemingly compelling value proposition. There was only a small problem with it: it sounded way too good to be true. It went something like this: “I show people how to collect valuable assets – like gold and silver – for free.” Needless to say, alarm bells went off in my head as picking up free gold and silver (short of using a metal detector) seemed simply too farfetched and a bit sketchy. Our conversation was brief and I never did find out how to perform this magical feat.
For your tagline to work, your audience has to have a reason to believe that you can actually fulfill your “brand promise” and deliver the results you advertise. This sometimes leads to creative tension with the imperative for Memorability and you should carefully balance the M and C in MAC. Going overboard in either department can make the tag line either excessively flamboyant (raising alarm bells) or overly drab (inducing boredom).
So, the next time you refine your value proposition for a new target audience or update your tag line or hook, don’t forget the MAC. By the way, Memorability, Approachability and Credibility also work great as guidelines for other settings, such as a sales presentation, company overview or investor pitch.
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