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Short, provocative,


word-crafted questions


with double meanings


that make you smile


 are what sell best! BUT


they’re not waiting


to jump out


of your closet!



At the risk of looking like one of those idiotic email FWDs written by “anonymous,” here are some inspiring examples of great double-entendre marketing theme line questions. . .

  • GETTING ENOUGH? (Delaware Sleep Disorder Centers)

  • GOT MILK? (Who doesn’t remember the white moustaches?) 

  • WHERE’S THE BEEF? (Years later, we still laugh at that one!) 

  • ARE YOU BREATHING? (Stress management exercise for businesspeople and healthcare professionals)

  • CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW? (Verizon has us still saying this with every static crackle)

  • IS IT IN YOU? (Yup, Gatorade) 

  • MOUSE GOT YOUR WRIST? (Safe-Zone Stop-wrist-pain brace for computer operators)

Add your own favorites: ____________________________________

Yes, fun stuff, and hopefully inspiring. That’s the good news. The bad news is that these short sweet nothings, these provocative, punchy few words of flair do not fall from the sky.

Neither do they get dreamed up by in-house staff people who write coherent emails, business reports and plans, even news releases, church bulletins, or local fundraising flyers (or well-intentioned poetry-writing relatives with Fine Arts degrees who want to save you money).

Great headlines that slam out great short questions are the product of many years of studying and understanding consumer psychology, consumer behavior, emotional buying triggers, and professional advertising and marketing writing. That kind of expertise costs money.

It’s your call! Not every business owner or entrepreneur wants to sell products or services by identifying them and/or the brand name with a custom-created household expression. But if you do, you can’t cut corners. Top-notch sales messages sell. The exceptional ones can literally bury the competition.

Each of the examples cited above took at least a month (and probably longer) of intensive focus and concentration.

Contrary to auto dealership mentality, words that sell are not seat-of-the-pants, knee-jerk, last-minute compositions. Even with a professional marketing writer, substantial time is required to experience a process of what I call “total immersion.”

A record-sales campaign I once produced for Great Western Wine and Champagne came only after a three-month process of picking grapes, working in the winery, giving tourists tours, cleaning the vats (a time-limit situation to avoid passing out from the fumes!), and learning about processing equipment and the aging process..

I met with the glass bottle manufacturers, the cork people, the wire and foil wrapper makers, the label makers, the glue makers; I worked on the loading dock, in the front office, and out in the field with the sales reps; learning the history of wine and how the master winemakers grafted vines together to create varietals.

Don’t believe anyone who tells you she or he can write you sales-winning words without becoming thoroughly engaged with every level of your business. It doesn’t happen, even for a 2, 3, 4, or 5-word theme question or 7-word branding line.

Award-winning author/journalist Malcolm Gladwell is the epitome of this thinking. To write about John Kennedy, Jr’s piloting death plunge into the ocean at Nantucket, he hired a pilot to fly him to the same spot and dive. When you’re seeking big-time copy, find someone with big-time experience who’s willing and anxious to dive!

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“The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson]

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One Comment to “GETTING ENOUGH?”

  1. […] in the manner with which you present your newsworthiness. Like a billboard or online banner, catchy short (six and seven-words max) headlines get […]

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