Searching for My Hook

To fuel your entrepreneurial services, you could use a marketing hook

In the current phase of my entrepreneurial journey, I’m asking podcast hosts if I can be a guest on their shows. Most hosts don’t reply, but a few scheduled interviews. When lucky, I’ll receive a rejection email with an explanation.

I want to share three reasons why one podcast host declined to have me as a guest. You might say that he gave me the hook idea.

Podcast host: “You need a marketing hook”

After getting to know each other, I made my pitch for being a guest, which the podcaster declined for three reasons:

  1. I lack podcast experience.
  2. I don’t have a strong social media following.
  3. I don’t have a marketing hook.

I thanked him for his feedback and let him know that I’ll schedule another screening after meeting his guest criteria.

I’m confident that I’ll achieve the first two tactical criteria. The third is a bit trickier.

Image of neon sign that reads, “This is the sign you’ve been looking for”
Image of neon sign that reads, “This is the sign you’ve been looking for”
Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

What’s a marketing hook?

Several websites offer tips to create your hook, and some have inspirational examples like these:

  1. Slack: “What it feels like to sit in 25% fewer meetings” (picture of someone sitting on a pink horse with a rainbow and clouds in the background) and “Slack: Make Work Better”
  2. Dollar Shave Club: “The Smarter Way to Shave” (in smaller print: “A delightful shave for a few bucks. No Commitments. No Fees. Try the Club.”)
  3. heal app: “Get A Doctor to You”

Back to my screening call:

The podcast host didn’t get what I had to offer his listeners other than my leadership books. Without a clear hook that exemplified my uniqueness, he didn’t know how to market the show.

Small boy at the bottom of some stairs looking at the first step
Small boy at the bottom of some stairs looking at the first step
Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

Do you get why I’m hook-challenged?

After about sixteen years of managing teams in corporations, I became an entrepreneur and consulted with businesses. While being on my own, I’ve achieved some accomplishments, such as:

  • Published two leadership books and one about clinical training in medicine
  • As a Certified Performance Technologist (CPT), clarified performance gaps and underlying root causes so executives could systematically mitigate them
  • Designed multiple interventions to resolve complex performance gaps and worked with talent development specialists to implement them
  • Coached executives to communicate effectively with their teams and strengthen how they influenced their organization’s culture
  • Discovered how HR Business Partners (HRBPs) can become more effective business partners (to be released in a forthcoming whitepaper and book entitled HRBP 3.0)

From this list, do you see a hook? Probably not. At first, I didn’t either, but then I had a conversation with a colleague that changed everything.

Image for post
Image for post

How a colleague found my hook

In contrast, I avoid what most authors do, which is rely on labels to discuss leadership. Some example labels are authentic leader, Millenial, introvert/extravert, dominant type, judging/perceiving, colored hats, maverick, spectator, authoritarian, transactional leader, and so on.

Instead, I emphasize leadership behaviors, the intent behind them, and what results by using them consistently.

In his blog, Reconsidering servant leadership, Adam Bryant writes:

“Jargon and buzzwords grow like weeds in the business world, and it’s good to thin them out.”

Our brains are drawn towards using labels to explain why people act the way they do (think about how we make the fundamental attribution error).

In a recent conversation, I explained to a colleague about how I avoid labels. Lightbulb! He discovered my hook: unlabeled leadership.

Image of a microphone connected to a laptop
Image of a microphone connected to a laptop
Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash

Using my marketing hook

I’ll use my hook as the basis of a podcast series that I’m starting in January. It will be called the Unlabeled Leadership Podcast. With my guests, we’ll talk about stories that illustrate leadership practices. we’ll uncover the underlying principles, and we’ll discuss how listeners can leverage them. The show will emphasize practicality and application.

One more thing (an afterthought)

Darren’s podcast illustrates the problem with labeling: what a term means to you can be much different than what it means to me.

About the author

An Idea (by Ingenious Piece)

Everything Begins With An Idea

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