High Concept Marketing: Sell it in a Sentence

Cujo the St Bernard

It’s well known in politics; if you say three things, you say nothing.

We’re all bombarded with ideas all day long. What we need, what we’re looking for, is an idea that jumps out at us. A single understanding so extraordinary that everything else around it suddenly ceases to exist.

So profound in its simplicity and still … still, it has the ability to describe an entire world to us. An idea so loud, so clear, so universally understood that it can’t be mistaken for anything else … ladies and gentlemen, I give you, “jaws on paws”.

? … Dude, you’re losing it. Okay, let me explain …

Millions of Dollars are Made Everyday with Single Sentences

In 1975, a little director made a little movie based on a book. The director’s name was Steven Spielberg and the movie was Jaws (which became the highest grossing movie ever at the time).

In 1983, another book was turned into a movie. It wasn’t an easy idea to pitch if you try to flesh out all the ideas the story involved. But it was successfully pitched, and made, and enjoyed moderate success.

The movie was Cujo; Stephen King’s rabid dog horror flick and it was sold with three simple but powerful words. Jaws on paws.

Million dollar deals are made every day and the best ones are locked in with a single sentence.

High Concept or “Single Sentence Marketing”

What are you selling. In one sentence. You’ve got 5 minutes with a play-maker. You’ve got 5 words to fit on a poster that has to capture people as they stroll by. You’ve got a flyer. A business card. All you’ve got is a freakin’ t-shirt.

And in that tiny space, and space of time, you have to fit the weight of thousands of words and images. You have to fit in an 80 minute Powerpoint presentation. A video. Pie charts, spreadsheets, an interactive workshop, an expert-panel discussion and a live action skit.

High concept marketing makes it easy. Every person on the planet has a wealth of preset understandings of the world and the things in it. All that stuff you need to say … is already in their heads.

You just need the right sentence to bring it out.

What are you selling. In one sentence.

7 thoughts on “High Concept Marketing: Sell it in a Sentence”

  1. Say more by saying less! The design philosophy concept for this is to use whitespace to draw the focus to what content you do have on the page.

    The opposite disease, which I struggle with occasionally is to be typeractive.

  2. Hey Jamie,

    Great correlation. I’m kind of experiencing less-is-more design focus now. Since I simplified my blog theme, “Subscribe to Zoomstart” is speaking a lot louder than it was and that’s produced a jump from 200 to just about 300 subscribers in the last couple weeks.

  3. I’m never really sure how to pick the right phrase. I always feel like I’m leaving too much out. I struggle with business cards too. I can’t use the cheap vistaprint type online deals because I want 2 phone, fax, email, url, slogan and they don’t allow it. I just need to leave more out I guess but it’s hard for me.

  4. Hey Percy,

    Personally I don’t like cheap business cards either. I prefer the heavier ones (16pt card stock). When it comes to picking the right phrase … that can be tough. Using a metaphor that people can already relate can be really helpful; that was the power of “jaws on paws” … people already related Jaws with horror + success at the box office.

    Another great sales slogan is “One stop shop”. It’s an old one and well used but I know people employing it with great success today. They offer a lot of related services and one-stop-shop tells people that they do everything.

  5. Brilliant stuff, small but great info that’s what you call an awesome blog post….Thanks for sharing.

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