The How of Wow

Ever wonder what you need to do to separate yourself and community from the competition?  THE HOW OF WOW, authored by Tony Carlson provides some insights.

The book is a guide about giving a speech that will “positively blow ‘em away”.  What does a book on giving a speech have to do with economic development?  Nothing, and everything.

The principles behind giving a memorable speech can be reapplied to making a great impression during a meeting or site visit with a potential capital investor.  The key is to understand how to put the WOW into your investor interactions.

Understand Your Audience

  • They learn and perceive differently.  Site selection consultants and C-level executives are not a mob.  They are individual people who all have their own style of learning.  One size does not fit all.  Some will be interested in physically seeing and walking a site, others will want a detailed presentation and written description.  You need to get to know each person you want to impact as an individual and understand how they like to learn.
  • Their memories are built on meaning and context.  Memories are built on the ability of the brain to recognize patterns.  This is a right-brain activity and closely related to a person’s emotional core.  The stronger the memory, the easier it is to make a connection.  The more you know about a person’s background, the easier it will be for you to create a connection that resonates with their experience.  Make a point of looking for that connection to your community and you will be creating a stand out positive memory.
  • They respond when you share your humanity.  The one thing that connects you with every site selection consultant and C-level executive is that you share the experience of being a living, breathing human.  If you start and end with a focus on the right brain, you will make a lasting impression.  As you plan your interactions, you need to think about how to create an emotional connection out of the gate.  You can share all the facts and figures you want during the interaction, but end on an emotional note as well to ensure the memory is established and relationship solidified.  Pre-plan these moments, and make certain they are related to your community so the memory is both relevant and authentic.

Tips on Execution

  • Begin with the end in mind.  It is not about you, it is about your visitor’s needs.  Start with what you want the person to remember about your community and work your way backwards from there to create the kind of experience that will create a lasting memory.  The goal is to get your community assessed objectively as a location choice for a potential capital investment.  If you begin with that goal in mind, you will ensure the time is well spent and the required information is included in the visit.
  • Golden Goals – 1) create a positive memory and, 2) have your community’s brand promise remembered.  Ensure every interaction is positive from start to finish.  Pay attention to the details, they matter.   Remember, a brand is a promise.  Your brand sets an expectation of what a C-level executive will experience if he/she makes a capital investment in your community.  You want that promise understood and remembered.
  • Find the hook.  You need to find the way your visitor will connect with your community.  There are five types of hooks to consider.
    • Story hook – Have the interaction follow a classic story structure.  Begin with a strong opening.  Build the interest as the interaction progresses.  End the interaction with a crescendo that cements the memory.
    • Metaphorical hook – Find an image that reinforces your community brand promise.  If your community promises the opportunity to discover new ideas, introduce your visitor to somebody in your community that brings the promise to life.  If you promise a caring environment, take your visitor to a community event that serves as a live demonstration.   Don’t simply tell … show.
    • Location hook – Connect your community with a positive location experience your visitor has had in the past.  Create an analogy.  Making a connection will help your visitor position your community in their mind and will strengthen recall.
    • Time hook – Culture and values are reflected in history.  Tell the history of your community to help make it memorable.  If there is a celebration in your community, share it with your visitor.  These are special moments that will be easily remembered and positively associated with your community.
    • Provocation hook – Drama is always remembered.  If you can, help create a dramatic moment for your visitor.  For example, introduce him/her to the oldest person in your community who can explain why it is a great place to live.  Or, introduce the person to some of the children in your community who might someday work for the C-level executive’s company.  Let your imagination run wild to create dramatic ways to communicate your community promise.
  • Use silence effectively.  You have two ears and one mouth, use them in proportion.  As the experience unfolds, let your visitor talk.  Sharing what he/she is feeling and thinking helps solidify the memory and makes it richer so recall is easier.  A pause on your part will reenergize your visitor and make him/her more engaged in the experience.


If you apply the principles found in the HOW OF WOW, you will successfully create memories in the minds of your target site selection consultants and C-level executives.  You will also find that you will become even more passionate about your community and what it has to offer.  This enthusiasm will translate in your behavior and you will be an even better job of being a community ambassador.

I would be interested to know about your perspective on the reapplication of the principles in Tony Carlson’s book.  Have any of them worked for you?  Did any of them fail?  If yes, why?

As always, if you liked this blog post, please share it with a friend who you feel might also enjoy reading it.  I am also working hard to try and increase awareness of the Strengthening Brand America website as a resource for economic development professionals to learn more about reapplication of product and corporate branding principles to better brand their communities, regions and states.  If you are a Facebook user, become a fan.  If you use Twitter, follow BrandAmerica and retweet messages so your followers can be aware of the educational resource.  If you have a LinkedIn account, join the Brand America Group.

Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts by leaving a comment.

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