How to Create a B2B Marketing 'One Liner' That Sells Your Product

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As a marketer, if you were to hear the phrase "140 characters," chances are you already know the platform that phrase is referencing. The truncated - some might even say stunted - constraints of Twitter have forced a level of brevity that today's marketers have embraced as the norm. Paragraphs-long Facebook posts are mercilessly slashed, hiding the bulk of content behind a "read more" prompt that serves as an orchestral swell nudging long-winded Oscar winners off the stage. Viral-hungry gifs loop a few seconds of video endlessly, and Instagram snaps encapsulate an entire brand message into a heavily-filtered blink of an image. Ours is an age of digitally-hastened short attention spans, down to 8 seconds from 12 in the last 17 years alone, according to the New York Times. For B2B marketing, that means that a one-liner might very well be the most important thing you'll ever craft. 

The B2B Marketing Elevator Pitch

Once a term used exclusively for businesses pitching to investors and partners, the elevator pitch premise is simple: you should be able to explain your business idea and hook interest in the span of a bottom-to-top elevator ride - say, two minutes or so. Remember that 8 second statistic from earlier? Two minutes is asking far too much from a B2B audience with no emotional investment in your product. If you're skeptical, just think about the length of the average commercial - 30 to 45 seconds - and the wild success of commercial-free Netflix over flagging, ad-heavy cable. You're fortunate to get a moment "alone" with your potential customers, so it's crucial not to waste it talking yourself out of a sale with long-winded branding efforts.

How to Create Your One Liner

  • Step 1: Tap into an emotional connection with your customers. Select your words carefully to mesh with your already-created brand "feel" to ensure there's no dissonance, and lean on positives over negatives. Words like revolutionize, reinvent, relax, innovate give a feeling of power to your pitch, and speak to the solution your product offers. Use caution with "stop" words, such as end, forget, and, of course, stop itself - these could communicate an unwanted subconscious command to your reader that can damage momentum.
  • Step 2: Make sure it's actually a one liner. The shorter and sharper your one liner is crafted, the more memorable the branding will be - think about slogans like "I'm loving it." and "Just do it," and how each one instantly brings to mind its associated company. These are powerful one liners that build on brand association by emphasizing those one liners campaign-wide. If the "one liners" were too long, this effect would be a hard one to achieve, and might leave otherwise-streamlined campaigns feeling like they're trying a little too hard.
  • Step 3: Find your hardest-working statistic and make it work even harder. Can you prove that 50% of your users experienced an improvement? Or that your product removes 99% of something negative? Use it in your one liner. People like hard and fast facts when they're learning about something new, and numbers make your product more palatable and trustworthy to explore. 
  • Step 4: Try not to be overly-literal. Steve Jobs, when describing the then-new iPod, didn't call it a portable music player - he sold a concept that could "put 1000 songs in your pocket." You want your one liner to tell just enough about your product to pique interest without revealing every single card in your hand. Your language should be solution-focused, leading your potential customers down the path while letting them walk the last part - the steps of discovery - via their own power. 

Follow these four simple steps and, with a little bit of brainstorming, you'll have a one liner that perfectly describes your business and serves as a great "hook" in your marketing campaigns. 

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Isaac Oswalt

Owner of 21 Handshake, a strategic marketing company, driven to grow relationship-driven businesses. Futurist in nature, Isaac displays a deep desire to preserve the human element in today's business. Trust being the ultimate currency, his clients appreciate that "new and stronger handshakes" is a success metric in their businesses.

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