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”
Here’s what happened during the Zoom call with the podcaster:
After getting to know each other, I made my pitch for being a guest, which the podcaster declined for three reasons:
- I lack podcast experience.
- I don’t have a strong social media following.
- 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.
What’s a marketing hook?
A marketing hook is a meaningful phrase that resonates with your targeted audience. When effective, the hook provokes a level of curiosity and intrigue that drives your prospective audience to want to learn more about your products and services.
Several websites offer tips to create your hook, and some have inspirational examples like these:
- 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”
- 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.”)
- 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.
Do you get why I’m hook-challenged?
How do I reduce what I do to a single, well-defined, and alluring hook? To answer that, let me give you some background about what I do to explain my quandary.
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.
How a colleague found my hook
My business practice is founded on evidence-based practices from social-cognitive and constructivist learning theories. When I wrote my leadership books, I leveraged these practices to demystify the meaning of leadership and the underlying principles.
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.
Using my marketing hook
Having a hook is great, but how do you use it?
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)
After publishing this blog, I listened to Darren Hardy’s podcast episode, Does Servant Leadership Actually Work? (00:09:44). During the episode, Darren goes on a bizarre rant attacking the servant leadership concept. To him, servant leadership is an extreme that diminishes what leadership means and causes dependencies. He then introduces another label, human-centered leadership, and proclaims that this is what people need to practice. He then discusses how you can learn human-centered leadership through his course.
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
Gary is a Leadership Author, Researcher, Consultant, and Podcast Guest. His latest book, What the Heck Is Leadership and Why Should I Care?, is available in paperback, eBook, and audiobook. You can learn more about Gary and his other books at https://www.garyadepaul.com.