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SMALL BUSINESS | IN BOX

Tagline must fit product, buyers

June 06, 2007|Karen E. Klein | Special to The Times

Dear Karen: How do I come up with an impressive tagline for a new motorcycle design?

Answer: A tagline should be memorable, viral and set you apart from your competitors. The exact wording depends heavily on what you're calling the new motorcycle, said Jay Jurisich, creative director at Igor, a San Francisco-based branding consulting firm.

"There is the potential for a tagline to play off the name in a way that adds deeper meaning to the experience of the brand," Jurisich said. "If the product has a highly evocative name, a more functional, descriptive tagline makes the most sense. If the product has a fairly noninteresting name, a powerful, evocative tagline can inject some life into the brand."

Mapping the competitive landscape will help you differentiate your product: What messages are your competitors employing?

What brand attributes do you want to convey? Match them with phrases that are already part of the culture and have deep resonance with consumers.

Consider how a potential tagline sounds when spoken, how easy it is to pronounce, how it looks in print, how long it is and what kind of poetic quality it has, including rhythm, meter, rhyme and wordplay.

Many taglines are all about how great the company or product is, Jurisich said.

"You could choose a tagline like, 'The best motorcycle in the world,' but the consumer would likely not believe you or tune you out completely," he said. "Taglines that are about the consumer, or about the consumer and the company, tend to have more power. A prime example of such a tagline is Apple's 'Think Different,' which is a statement about the company and its products, as well as an injunction to the consumer."

E-mail effort can bring clients back

Dear Karen: I'm a small retailer and I'm thinking of starting an e-mail marketing program to build repeat business. Is this a worthwhile idea, and can I do it myself?

Answer: Because it's easier to generate repeat business than it is to attract new customers, an e-mail marketing campaign can be a good investment. You can do it yourself or outsource the details for pennies per customer.

"E-mail works as well for smaller companies as it does for Borders and Amazon," said Jay Siff, president of Moving Targets and Loyal Rewards, two companies that provide business-building tools for small-business owners.

Start by collecting e-mail addresses from your current customers.

"Don't leave forms on the counter -- it won't work -- and don't request addresses, birthdays or other information," Siff said.

Every e-mail you send should give your customers an incentive for making their next purchase, whether it's 10% off or a buy-one-get-one-free coupon. Forget lengthy newsletters and concentrate on giving them bargains and value, Siff recommended.

You can send the e-mails yourself, but make sure that you write each message in a way that prevents blockage by spam filters and provide an opt-out method for recipients who want to be removed from your list. You can find out how to comply with the laws governing e-mail marketing at the website of the Federal Trade Commission: www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/canspam.shtm.If you prefer to outsource the job, compare pricing and service packages at firms such as Siff's (www.loyalrewards.com), BlueHornet Networks Inc. (www.bluehornet.com) and ExactTarget Inc. (www.exacttarget.com).

Got a question about running or starting a small enterprise? E-mail it to karen.e.klein@ latimes.com or mail it to In Box, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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