Bill: Do you wanna start?
Lorenzo: Let’s start.
Lorenzo: Today’s episode-
Lorenzo: The power of micro-scripts, it’s not what people hear, it’s what they repeat.
Bill: Or it’s how to tell your story or differentiate your company or articulate your brand in a sentence or less.
Lorenzo: Boom. Pow. Mic drop.
Bill: End of the episode right there. We’re gonna have to do it.
Lorenzo: That’s it. Come again. See you next time.
Bill: Good morning brother Lorenzo.
Lorenzo: Brother Bill good morning how are you?
Bill: And hello to the whole, the Brand Brothers family out there in radio land all the people within the sound of our voices. I love saying that. Lorenzo, so we’re gonna talk, we’ve been hinting at it we’ve been the first few episodes been talking about it, we talked a lot about the dominant selling idea which is the big idea that you’re gonna stand for that is the difference that makes all the difference. As we go to future episodes we’re gonna talk about that, how to find yours that’s critical. But there was, well we’re gonna talk about micro-scripts today.
Lorenzo: We’ve been hinting at it.
Lorenzo: And now today’s the start, the start of the journey.
Bill: Right. We wrote some, we’ve written books. Lorenzo’s written a book that’s gonna be the number one bestseller in the United States. [crosstalk 00:01:17] well yeah. It’s a Newark number one bestseller like my books. Anyway, I also wrote books because when you’re a consultant, when you’re a mad man if you want to be, you have to write a book. See I wrote a book, means you’re smart. So we wrote Why Johnny Can’t Brand which is about the dominant selling idea but as we went through we realized that there was something missing. There was a piece of the puzzle that was missing.
I was on a radio show one day, Sirius XM radio, it was actually a show on politics. It was back on the days it was a presidential election or it might’ve been midterm, I’m not sure which one. It was a little bit of a political show. What was happening was that the democrats who have more registered, there’s more registered democrats in the world than republicans, but the democrats kept losing and the republicans kept winning with less people identifying as republicans. You watch the democrats, they’re very academic, cerebral, they would give you big long paragraphs of explanation. The republicans would just give you a tag line. We were talking about it like the republicans say “Well he’s a flip flopper,” or they’d say “He furlowed the murderer,” or … and the democrats would go “This person is a misogynist, a xenophobic, a homophobic …”
Lorenzo: And let me start reading my 12 page policy paper.
Bill: Right. Right. “He’s an adversarial person that distorts from the international conventions that we all adhere to.” And I’m sitting there going “Okay but, I went to an Ivy League college and I don’t even know what those words mean.” So they would sit there and expect you to get all excited and meanwhile the republicans would just come back and say, they grin and say “He’s gonna pull the plug on grandma.” The ploy was that the republicans were very good at coming up with plain speech and we realized that you couldn’t forget and repeat. So when you told someone “Hey, that guy’s a flip flopper,” the average voter who was sitting at a bar or something now he could tell his friend why he was not gonna vote, why he’s gonna vote. He’d say “I ain’t voting for that flip flopper.”
Bill: Things like that.
Lorenzo: It launched the story.
Bill: We were sitting on the show and I said “You know Mark, these are little scripts. They’re giving people these little, nice scripts. They’re like micro-scripts. I remember the day that was. I didn’t know but it was probably the best idea that we ever came up with. I mean the dominant selling idea came from the USP, we’ve talked about that, the unique selling proposition. We turned it into, we called it the dominant selling idea but it’s the same thing because we updated it a little bit. But micro-scripts, this idea that you had to be able to tell a story and get people to remember things but you had to do it in a sentence or less.
Lorenzo: Quick disclaimer to our brand new familia. This is a non partisan show, the brand brothers you know. We pass no value judgement on … because we want to break down the science of what’ going on.
Bill: We’re not talking about democrats or republicans, we’re just talking about the facts that I think that I as an observer of things, that the republicans have been better at it for years. I can go down a long list of how good they are.
Lorenzo: I want to set you up real quick because I’m gonna, we’re gonna define micro-scripts here in a second but I remember when I bought your book The Micro-script Rules on the cover, or one of the great lines is “It’s not what people hear, it’s what they repeat.” I remember I sat there, before I even read any of the rest of the book I just thought “I need to sit here and soak this line in. This is really, this is awesome.” When I got into the book, it’s one of my favorite marketing books of all time and it’s not just because I’m trying to flirt with you. It’s an amazing book.
Bill: It’s okay, no flirt taken.
Lorenzo: Well thank you. So, for the brand new family that’s with us, define what a micro-script is.
Bill: Let me just … I can answer that with an official definition but it’s a little bit better for me to talk about examples and we’ll get to it okay? What I’m gonna do is, I’m gonna think about the audience out there, our listeners out there, I’m gonna give you a phrase and you see if you can complete the phrase. Here’s a go, the first phrase is, it’s a city’s PR campaign “What happens in Vegas …”
Lorenzo: Stays in Vegas.
Bill: Right. We’ve all used that one before. There was a famous murder trial of a football player and he said “If the glove doesn’t fit …”
Lorenzo: You must acquit.
Bill: Yeah. People don’t get that. I mean they never fail to get that. You could say “Pork, it’s the other …”
Bill: White meat.
Lorenzo: White meat.
Bill: That’s close. See it’s getting old now. Wheaties breakfast …
Lorenzo: Of champions.
Bill: Yeah. How about “Call enterprise because we’ll …”
Lorenzo: Pick you up.
Bill: Yeah. “friends don’t let friends …”
Lorenzo: Drive drunk.
Bill: Yup. “size doesn’t …”
Bill: “The milk chocolate that …”
Lorenzo: Melts in your mouth not in your hand.
Bill: Okay. “Location. Location …”
Lorenzo: I’m crushing this.
Bill: Yeah I know you’re crushing it.
Bill: Right. And “Ask not what your …”
Lorenzo: Country can do for you but what you can do for your country.
Bill: Yeah. I mean that’s … so I have been in India, and maybe I mentioned this before, but I’ve been in India giving a speech, this is before the internet and I’d say “If the glove doesn’t fit,” and 500 people from India go “You must acquit.” So, these are like these little magic words that just, these little phrases that, and the fact the interesting thing is you can remember a zillion of these that’re on the top of your head. You start to go back and look at … these are all happen to be tag lines and great tag lines are written in this kind of phrasing. But if you also think about how your mother taught you to be safe growing up she used these little, we call them little micro-scripts.
Lorenzo: Nothing good happens after midnight.
Bill: That’s right. Look both ways when you cross the street. Or they say “Stop drop and roll.” Or they say …
Lorenzo: Stranger danger.
Bill: Stranger danger. The early bird gets the worm and on and on and on and on. There’s no pain, no gain. They’re teaching you with these little rules of thumb. Little heuristics.
Lorenzo: I remember when I read the book there was two, the two of the variables that define it that I loved. Where that, one of them was it’s repeatable. Which is the ultimate test. Do other people repeat it? I think that a lot of companies, a lot of market departments will come up with a line that they think is a zinger and nobody ever repeats it.
Bill: That’s true.
Lorenzo: And I think that one of the tests is that you say it and people can’t stop saying it which is really awesome. The other thing too that really kind of was my ah-ha moment was there was a phrase that you had in your book which was “It launches a story,” in there head. And I just went “All of those lines, if I go back, I can imagine the story.” If the glove doesn’t fit you must acquit, I feel like I’m in the courtroom when you say that.
Bill: Yeah. For sure. What happens is this gets back to is, as we were talking about, why do these things work? We started to think “Hey, maybe we need to, maybe these micro-scripts is the last, this is the missing link in all of our doctrine of branding and positioning.” Which is that, you may have a great idea but if you want people to remember it and repeat it you’ve got to put it in these little micro-scripts because these micro-scripts are magic. Let me give you another time how we did … so we talked about how if the glove doesn’t fit you must acquit.
Now, a lot of people are too old to remember this although there’s been a lot of OJ documentaries back on the air recently because the OJ trial was the trial of the century. I can’t believe it’s over 15 years ago I think. Is it 20? OJ Simpson, he was a great football player who went out and eventually murdered his wife and a guy that was just delivering her keys that wasn’t her boyfriend or anything and OJ got off the hook. But it was a terrible notorious thing. Now the people that were doing the prosecutor spent nine months basically with experts and scientific evidence detailing every single reason in nature why a rational person could not fail to convict OJ for this crime. They spent nine months of data, data, data collection. Every possible thing.
But OJ’s lawyer, Johnny Cochran he knew about micro-scripts and how they worked and he basically said, he came to the jury and said “You can remember nine months of facts and data or I’ll save you the trouble and you can just remember this one thing. OJ was framed by the racist cops. He didn’t do it, he was framed,” and he said “I’m gonna give you a little script for you to remember what you’re supposed to do tomorrow,” he said “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
Lorenzo: I love it. And when I read the book what I loved is that the principle here is no one remembers data.
Bill: They don’t remember data.
Lorenzo: They will forget it the second the slide switches. And that story in the book I loved because I feel like so many companies, so many startup guys, so many founders, they put all this work in the data and just go, they’ve already forgotten it.
Bill: That’s the thing so these words are like magic. Now what happened is OJ was acquitted the next day or three days later. It’s twenty years later, twenty years later, and you ask somebody about the OJ trial, remember what do you remember, they go “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.” These phrases, when it’s a real micro-script, they are unforgettable. Because what they do is they launch a story in your mind. A much bigger story.
Lorenzo: Now you’ve been refining the micro-script doctrine over the years and I’d love for you to tell us more about brain speak.
Bill: Well thank you very much. Now I’m gonna give you a definition.
Lorenzo: Yeah. Why do they work?
Bill: Well first of all, the official definition is that a micro-script is a short phrase usually it’s a rule of thumb, like a little rule of thumb usually or a key idea that people love to repeat word for word to inform or persuade others. Okay, so people like to repeat this thing word for word. It usually contains very vivid or descriptive metaphors and rhyming and rhythmic language. People love rhymes. There’s a reason why Shakespeare wrote in rhymes. There’s a reason why Dr. Seuss wrote in rhymes. Our brains love these little rhymes and rhythmic language. It triggers a story in the mind and basically we call it brain speak because this is how the brain shrinks everything down and remembers it. So if you’re a marketer and you give someone a little micro-script, people say “Thank you,” because then they can tell their friends. Then they can remember it. Then they can use this stuff and they sound smarter.
People love these things, that’s why you’ll always hear the same ones. I’m a skydiver right. Did you know I had a nun from Tibet, you tell them you’re a skydiver the whole world stops and they give you this little micro-script they go, I bet everybody listening knows this one “Why would anybody jump out of a perfectly good airplane.” Okay, a nun from Tibet and I was sitting there thinking “Why do I need to hear this skit,” everybody knows that line because it’s memorable, because it makes them feel smarter to say it, and because they think it’s a pithy clever thing to say.
Lorenzo: What I always realize, after I read the book, you start seeing them everywhere.
Bill: Oh you do, you hear them everywhere.
Lorenzo: Our audience is gonna, they’re gonna start emailing us which I can’t wait for.
Bill: Micro-scripts yeah.
Lorenzo: One of the things I realized, because you know when we talk about the dominant selling idea, it’s about selling. One of my discoveries is that a good micro-script for your company is the unpaid sales guy that sells when you’re not there. Right, it stays with people so long that it’s selling for you because it’s so repeatable. I just think that, anybody that says what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas is selling that city. They’re selling it even though the Convention Visitors Bureau of Vegas is not there selling you in person. That line sells you. Come here it’s the adult playground. I think that for a business person this is the ultimate, when you nail it, it is selling on your behalf when you’re not there because it’s so repeatable.
Bill: Then we started to find out more things. So we wrote the first micro-script book in, it came out in 2010 I think it was, which is god I can’t believe how long it is. We’re now writing the second edition because in the last few years we have learned so much about these micro-scripts and everybody has them and there’s so many great ones that we wished that we’d used back then. Then you know, brother Lorenzo was critical in helping us even develop the doctrine even further.
Lorenzo: I was just getting coffee in those meetings.
Bill: Well you gave your little micro-script that how I met Lorenzo the first time. Here it was, Lorenzo was a natural. The first day I met you. Lorenzo had been working for Rackspace and he had travel and had a tour in Europe for Rackspace and Lorenzo, when you meet him, he doesn’t look like, you know the hero in Beauty and the Beast? Remember when the beast turns into, what he turns into? He turns into a Norwegian tennis star. I mean, did you see what he looks like? He’s got blond hair, he’s got blue eyes, he’s got a big turned up nose.
Lorenzo: Pretty much the opposite of that.
Bill: And he’s got a tennis racket, he’s in white. Did you see this guy? He’s a freaking tennis player. This is what he turned into. Now Lorenzo looks like a tennis player to somebody from you know …
Lorenzo: From Saudi Arabia.
Bill: From Saudi Arabia yeah. Lorenzo’s dark …
Lorenzo: Minus the billions.
Bill: He’s darkly handsome but he’s got a beard. He’s got dark skin. I wouldn’t say it’s a turned up nose.
Lorenzo: It’s got it’s own area code.
Bill: Well it’s kinda like mine. It’s a little bit of a beak. Well I have one.
Lorenzo: When you’re growing up you say “It gives you personality. You’ve got personality.”
Bill: Well it’s a prominent nose. It’s probably a very strong nose. Anyway Lorenzo, he’s a great looking guy but he doesn’t look like a tennis star. He was in Europe flying around on his days off and he basically noticed that people didn’t want him to be on the plane with him.
Lorenzo: Awkward shifting.
Bill: It was awkward but he looked a little bit like the guy that, I don’t know. It was scary. So Lorenzo makes a T-shirt and he wears it on all the planes and it says, and he’s wearing it the day I met him, it says “Don’t panic, I’m Hispanic.”
Lorenzo: You know I thought it was very clever, but only one security guy laughed ever. One security guy. I said “This is gold.”
Bill: Yeah and that was the guy that already had you in handcuffs right?
Lorenzo: He had already had his fun.
Bill: “Yeah pal, we’re putting you in. We’ll see what the judge says after we beat you.”
Lorenzo: Well also, I think what I loved about the book is that I grew up in the Hispanic culture that I grew up, everybody tells stories and everybody has little lines. It just to me, I gravitated to it. I remember also a speech you gave once where you said “They asked Hemingway once if he could write a book in a sentence.”
Bill: Oh well that’s another point. I want to make this point for a second. That’s a big big point, don’t forget that point though. Because I want to tell just a little bit about when we decided this micro-script thing might be a big idea we started to write a book, we started I said “Why is it like this?”
We read about a little neuroscience about how the brain works. You start to find out that the way the brain works. Is that first of all, the brain only has 40 watts of electrical power but there is electrical connections. When the brain runs down, because thinking our thinking that happens in the frontal cortex, thinking actually makes the brain tired. When you’re done with a final exam, taking something or a stressful thing, you really feel your brain is tired. You need to rest. Because your brain has actually used up it’s power. The brain always needed to conserve that power in 50 million years ago because you had to be able to think in emergencies. Every day …
Lorenzo: So it’s looking for shortcuts.
Bill: It’s always looking for shortcuts. It’s always looking for shorthand. A. Because it has to remember stuff fast because you think every single day you go outside …
Lorenzo: It’s trying to keep you alive.
Bill: Life or death every day right? There’s saber toothed tigers running around, there’s guys with spears, who knows right? It’s your mother in law, even in those days they had mother in laws. What happens is, think about this it’s pretty interesting, we found out how the brain likes to work. The brain loves to work. So you think about it, it’s pretty interesting that people go “Life is so complicated. I got all these things to think about,” but it’s interesting that when all of a sudden, lets say you’re in a dangerous or emergency situation, let’s say somebody’s pointing a gun at you for the first time. Or lets say, I like this one, let’s say that you notice that you’re holding up the cute little bear cub to do a selfie at Yellowstone park, and you just noticed the mother bear just saw you doing that. Or a tornado happens to be coming up your driveway does a u-turn.
At times like that life gets very very simple. Everything is shut out because you go into survival mode quick and what actually happens is when the body thinks its freezing the body does all these automatic things. It shuts down all your extremities and sends all the blood to your brain and to your heart. Every cell of your body does the same thing. When it’s very important it gets right to the heart of the matter really fast. The brain has these little rules of thumb, they call them heuristics but they’re little rules of thumb and that’s how the brain works. Because the rules of thumb are very, they’re shortcuts.
The brain loves to do these things. For example, when the brain, and you’re born with a lot of these. For example, you know a little catches a fly ball. Little kids, they just instinctively catch a fly ball. But if they’re brain had to do a thousand different mathematical calculus equations, it would have to do that to catch a fly ball. But instead, the brain has one little rule of thumb. It says, and it’s called the gaze heuristic, the gaze rule of thumb. It says “Fix your gaze on the ball. If the angle is constant duck or catch.” That’s called the gaze heuristic.
Now you know why we like brands by the way? We like brands because there’s a heuristic we’re born with that says “The one I know is the one that’s safe.” We’re born with these little things and the brain can remember an unlimited amount of those. But, here’s what’s going on because you talked about data, what the brain is telling us to do is the opposite of what you learn in schools, what your teachers taught you or what big corporations try to do when they’re doing research. The brain tells you that in times of emergency like this, too much data gums up the works. It slows you down. Data makes you dumber. What the micro-scripts do is say the simple message always wins.
Data makes you dumber, the simplest is how you’re gonna survive. What they do is, instead of collecting more data, it discards data. And these little rules, they’re not always right but they’re basically, what they do is they give you the best right answer to make a decision with the least amount of data. That’s what these rules do.
Lorenzo: And so much of shopping and buying, so much of commerce these days are quick transactions. So you’re confronted at the grocery store and you’re in the checkout line, the kids are going crazy a lot of times you have to make a split second decision. The scenario is the same, so that your brain says “Okay which is the brand that I recognize, what’s the benefit,” in the shortest amount of time.
Bill: That’s right. That’s right. So what happens is, if you know this and you’re a communicator, then you say “Well, wow. Shouldn’t I package my idea in a little micro-script like this? Shouldn’t I make a little micro-script,” because the brain loves it when you do. That’s the theory behind … and the great advertisers knew this and they made these great taglines. But that’s how it works because our brains love to work this way. We call it brain speak.
Lorenzo: Also, and we’ll talk about this in a future episode, but in the book I remember some of the examples you gave, which to me redefined the whole arena of politics, was how effective politicians use this. The bridge to nowhere. No child left behind.
Bill: Look at that. You could have called no child left behind which was a huge famous law, you could have called it the educational resource act of 2018. But the politicians, again republicans are just so good at this, we’re not choosing sides, we’re just talking about facts, they called it no child left behind.
Lorenzo: Who’s not gonna vote for that?
Bill: Who’s not gonna vote for it? But it also, see what’s so great about it, it triggers a story. Because it gives you something to remember and it gives you a reason to remember it which is also why friends don’t let friends drive drunk. Or, the great taglines like Splenda, it’s made from sugar so it tastes like sugar. So it give you the benefit, gives you a reason to believe it all in eight words. That little micro-script by the way made it go to a 50% share of the market in two years.
These things still work. You brought up another point Lorenzo which is people say “Well my brand is too complicated. I can’t do this.” I love it when they say that.
Lorenzo: And they vomit every nook and cranny and story and variable about their company. As my nephew Elijah used to say “Boring.”
Lorenzo: It’s boring. Nobody remembers that. The brain certainly is not remembering it.
Bill: Because we say, what the brain does, remember we told you the brain defaults to that one item of carry on?
Lorenzo: That’s right. The one rule of carry on.
Bill: But we actually use the example of the guy that made a two hour political speech and the reporter came up and said to the lady “What did he say?” And she said “He was against taxes.” That’s what the brain does. If you know that, furnish it to the brain and the brain will use it and people will repeat it like those great taglines that we talked about.
Lorenzo: So the person who says “I’m too, mine’s too complicated.”
Bill: “Too complicated. I can’t do it my product is a technical product. I can’t do it.” So I love to say “Really? Okay well.” Someone asked Hemingway the great novelist if he could write a novel in six words. He thought about it and he said “You know, I can.”
Lorenzo: My favorite.
Bill: He said first for sale, here it is you ready? He said “For sale baby shoes never worn.”
Lorenzo: Grab your tissue people. I mean it launches, there’s so …
Bill: Six words.
Lorenzo: Six words. The first time I heard that it redefined, it also showed how brilliant he was about the art of prose. I’m gonna launch a story … I remember reading in the Old Man and the Sea he was describing the old man and he said “Everything about him was old except his eyes. They were cheerful and undefeated,” and all of a sudden now he had painted a picture in just those lines. He didn’t have to say anything else. I knew exactly what it is. But he was selling a character right? That is what the great micro-scripts do. They are launching these stories in your head because you’re trying to differentiate yourself from your competitors and say “Pick me. Pick me.” Politicians do it so well.
Bill: They do. They change history. I mean, my favorite line is “It’s six words is what changes history.” But here’s another example of I can’t do it too complicated. Somebody asked a great rabbi supposedly if he could describe the bible and the rabbi said “I can tell you the whole bible in one sentence. Do unto others as you’d have others do unto you. All the rest is commentary.”
Lorenzo: There it is.
Bill: It’s pretty good right?
Lorenzo: Just give them one story.
Bill: Well that’s what it is. Another thing, in another episode we’re gonna talk about story and the power of story, everyone talks about stories but you need to know really how they work and why they’re so powerful. But what happens is when you’ve told a little story, then when you can bring it down to this one … a micro-script is a little trigger. Remember that story that I told you that you’re never going to forget? Well here’s my little trigger and it gives you just enough pieces of that story to let, it’ll explode inside your head. That’s what happens because the only way you can persuade another human being to change their point of view at all is to help them change their story. There is no fact that is gonna change anyone’s mind.
Lorenzo: Well and also I feel like sometimes you have to just, by trial and error, test out micro-scripts because there’s really no way to guarantee it’s repeatability. I remember after I read Micro-script Rules we were doing a bunch of city work in downtown San Antonio and there were two lines that we beta tested. One was that we were the city on the rise. That “Hey we’re not perfect but we’re doing things.” The other one which was my personal favorite was “The city you can build.” I like that because it said very few people get to participate in building a city in their lifetime. But you know what I found? I started giving these speeches and I would use those two micro-scripts but only one of them ever got repeated. And it was the city on the rise and never once did someone come to me after a speech and go “Oh, the city you can build. I love that.” There was no repeatability to it. So I said “Clearly I need to flush this one down the toilet and go with the one with the that’s working.”
Bill: Right. But the thing is you wouldn’t necessarily know it wasn’t the repeatable one. No one ever really knows what the ones that are gonna work. You make an educated guess about this one sounds like a micro-script. Sounds like it, sounds like it, sounds like it. But the only test is if you basically talk to people or show people and they start using it back because it’s just … the only way to prove it is to have people do it. You just have to go out and try it out. That’s why the, listen the word micro-script was a micro-script because I would start to talk to people about it. I’d stand around with people. Anyone, business people, anybody and we’d be talking about “I was just working on this script called The Micro-script Rules,” and “What’s a micro-script?” Within 30 seconds everybody in the group was talking to me about micro-scripts. They’d say “Well micro-script that. I need micro-scripts. And here’s one little one I know.” You realized it was a micro-script itself and by the way a single name could be a micro-script.
Remember we talked about Home ATM? Well that’s a little micro-scripted name. Another one is Diehard Batteries. I wanna talk about politics, how micro-scripts change the world. Everyone knows about the war in Vietnam. The war in Vietnam changed the history of the United States. It changed the history of Asia, it did all these kinds of things. Unfortunately millions and millions of people died. The rationale, the micro-script that gave Americans permission to believe in the policy was two words called the “Domino theory.”
The domino theory. I think it might’ve been president Eisenhower that talked about it but Kennedy talked about it. Everybody talked about the domino theory. All the domino theory meant, because in those days everyone was scared of the communists, they thought the communist wanted to take over the world, and what they said was “We have to stop them in southeast Asia because if we let one country fall all the countries in the world are gonna fall like dominoes.”
Now they use the domino theory in that rationale and everybody in America back then from fifth grade kids to grown ups could talk to you about the domino theory, remember the domino theory and they saw the picture in their mind of all the dominoes falling. That was the reason they said “This is why we have to go into this war.” Now the sad thing was of all these years later the domino theory was untrue, it wasn’t true, but at the same time that’s the permission we had. That idea changed history and there’s a million examples of that through history.
Lorenzo: No I love it. I was recently watching, I was doing a Netflix binge on Narcos and I saw one, the great use Pablo Escobar, one of the greatest marketers of all time, he had a great micro-script. This was in the top five of nefarious uses of micro-scripts but he a phrase in Spanish that said “Plata O Plomo,” which is silver lead. You’re gonna take the bribe or you’re gonna take a bullet.
Lorenzo: But imagine the story it launches. And look, you wanna talk about brain speech, I wanna live. I wanna survive this. So who’s not gonna take the bribe? I just think that he packaged it, why send a loan shark to break your kneecaps when I can send you this little micro-script? It’s so effective.
Bill: That’s right and it just turns you into a … it leaves you cold. No it’s true. Micro-scripts are used, now here’s the other thing that people say “Well these micro-scripts, are they used for good? Are they used for evil? Are they used to manipulate people?” And the idea is no. What they are used to get ideas to penetrate and stay in people’s heads so they can be used for greatness or they can be used for … if you’re lying or doing propaganda, they can do the same thing.
Lorenzo: Well the flip flopper is a great example.
Bill: Right. And one of the things we teach and if we taught to people that are in politics and things, you know if people use micro-scripts against you, how do you defend against a micro-script attack?
The way you do it is, we can talk about it another time, but what you have to do is use another micro-script which is reframe it. Or you have to just throw the same micro-script back and pretty soon they’ll just stop using it. If John Kerry had turned around and said “Flip flopper? You mean I’m grown up enough to change my mind when I learn more, when I have a better way? Yeah.” He would’ve said “That guy is the flip flopper here.” Then he would’ve gone away. The other thing, what I love is where you reframe it. Winston Churchill said, I was watching one of the Winston Churchill movies, he said “Those who never change their minds never change anything.” So you see he could’ve come out and said “Sure well let me tell you I change my mind sometimes when it’s important to do so.”
You can see though if you are branding something and try to make it famous, try to get people to talk about it by word of mouth because word of mouth is still the most powerful medium there is. That little phone in your hand is a word of mouth machine. It is the same thing that cavemen 50 thousand years ago …
Lorenzo: Ten thousand songs in your pocket.
Bill: There it is.
Lorenzo: That’s a micro-script.
Bill: Exactly. So you see the power of these micro-scripts. Anybody can do them. There are techniques like anything else for recognizing them, seeing what they are, and developing your own. But once you have them they are absolutely magic because this is how the brain really talks to itself and how you talk to other people.
Lorenzo: I want to do one story about a one word micro-script because when I was going through and really wrapping my mind around the principle of micro-scripts is right around the time I joined Geekdom. I realized that the great Nick Longo had created a one word micro-script in Geekdom.
Geekdom for all our listeners out there is a co-working space in San Antonio for tech startups. What it said when, so first off, once you said it people would repeat it 10 times. It was so repeatable. Geekdom and they would giggle, Geekdom. But the story it launches is it’s a kingdom of geeks. You don’t imagine slick backed suit and tie guy walking into Geekdom. You imagine the guy in T-shirt. You imagine the guy that’s kind of playing World of Warcraft. It says that “If you’re a geek this is home turf.” Right, and if you’re not a geek you’re a visitor in this land. I sat there and I thought “What a great micro-script in one word.” Pow. It launched the story but also it was a selling idea. It said “Hey if you’re part of this tribe you need to come join our community.”
I think that when you do it right it just helps everybody. It helps you sell. It helps your customers opt-in to the mission. It helps the employees and it really shows the power of the repeatability of it but also the value.
Bill: Well look at, so look at we were writing an another book called The Unstoppables which was about entrepreneurship and could you actually train more entrepreneurs or were entrepreneurs just born that way. And we ended up talking to, we were fortunate to talk to real navy seals and also people in the Israeli navy seals. Now these are guys that are out there in battle and their issues are life and death, they really are. I mean it’s not TV, it’s not video games. It’s life and death. A lot of times they’re behind enemy lines and you get the thing when the bullets are flying like crazy they will tell you they go into battle with, they actually have a mental tool kit. The tool kit are these little micro-scripts because when things are so crazy you don’t have to think, this is how you think without thinking. Pilots use them for example.
I grew up on Cape Cod and taking boats into harbors and every time I go into harbor I have a little micro-script that I remember and I say it to myself. I say “Red right returning.” That micro-script, every pilot, every sailor that ever went into a harbor says that to himself. If a pilots landing a plane he sees the lights on the runway he says “Red over white all right.” These are the little things that you remember when you gotta think without thinking.
Lorenzo: So tell us some navy seals.
Bill: The navy seal ones, they basically, one of them was when you’re in the door … you know when they go in the buildings and stuff? “When you’re going through the door keep going.” Basically they’re saying never stop in the door. Always move. Another one is when their rifles jam in battle is “Tap rack bang.”
Bill: Yeah tap rack bang. I’m just gonna try and come up with some. They’ve got tons of them. There’s another one was, the guys that are down there … I knew a guy the longest he’d been underwater with a tank was 13 hours if you can imagine that.
Bill: But they talk about when they explosions go off or when you hear the enemy thing “Suck the mud.” That means get on the bottom and freaking suck the mud. But there little things that, there’s all kinds of memory devices that people use. When you’re flying an airplane, you know what you do when things start to go screwy? It sounds pretty but not, but it’s very important it just say “Fly the airplane.” What that means is, stop looking around, stop doing all kinds, stop. Level the wings. Level the nose and just fly the airplane and then relax. These are the kinds of things that when you’re in those situations that …
Lorenzo: Yeah your suck the mud one reminded me of one of my favorite business books by Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. I’ll never forget that I had to use this principle. Because if you’re a leader you inevitably have to do hard things and he had to … what I loved is all of his chapter sections opened with gangster rap quotes. I forget who the quote was from but it was a great micro-script and it was about having to do layoffs and firing people and he said “If you’re gonna eat shit, don’t nibble.” I just thought, and there was a time where I had to do a layoff, I had to let go of a bunch of people and I remembered getting up that Monday morning and I just, I don’t wanna do anything else but that, and I remembered that “If you’re gonna eat shit, don’t nibble,” and just gotta do it. Don’t put it off. Don’t extend it, don’t delay, just do it all and I just said “I’m gonna eat it all this week.”
Bill: Micro-scripts, they’re used for rules of thumb like business rules. What’s a famous one is “Hire slow, fire fast,” right? Other one my dad used to make em up all the time he’d say “Nothing succeeds like sales.”
Lorenzo: “People don’t leave companies they leave managers.”
Bill: Well sure. I’m just looking at a whole list of things. Like here’s one “What would Jesus do?” Very simple, everybody remembers it, makes you stop and think, right?
Bill: Okay or what about this one “Do the next right thing.” You can live your whole life, whole life with that little rule. Just, what do I do now? I just screwed up you know, don’t. Just do the next right thing if you don’t know what to do. You look at brands like “The quicker picker upper,” or “Only you can prevent forest fires.” How about “Save the whales. Speed kills. Make love not war. Stranger danger.” This is how your mother taught you right. “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” right?
Lorenzo: Those are great.
Bill: Yeah. “Stop drop and roll. Look both ways when you cross the street.” But this is how, again this is how …
Lorenzo: It’s brain speak.
Bill: … and that’s why your momma taught you those little things when you were first old enough to hear words and you never forgot them. Because the brain is designed to remember these little heuristics and file them away because it can retrieve them so fast.
Lorenzo: I think a lot of times, I think one of the mistakes that people do and I’m guilty of it, is thinking that a micro-script is a tagline. But it’s not necessarily a tagline. I also think that people try to come up with it first. What advice do you have for our entrepreneurs out there?
Bill: What I’m gonna say is the best taglines are written in micro-script. If you can write a tagline you want no one to ever forget and you want them to repeat, why wouldn’t you write them in micro-script? That’s what they did. That’s what, you know when they came up with what happens in Vegas stays in … by the way who hasn’t said to someone “I’m going to Vegas for the weekend,” and someone goes “Oh, don’t cha know?” And they tell it like you’ve never heard it before. It’s like this insider knowledge “Don’tcha know? What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” Oh really?
So you write them in micro-script. You say the quicker picker upper. You say, see when you have a dominant selling idea like “I’m gonna make the world’s toughest watch. The worlds toughest affordable watch.” That’s what Timex was, the worlds toughest watch that you could afford. That’s not what their tagline was. Their tagline was “It takes a lickin’ it keeps on tickin’.” Nobody forgot that. But people still remember these and they remember them 30 or 40 years later.
Lorenzo: Yeah but I think that the lesson that I had to learn the hard way was, you have to start with the value. You have to start with the basics.
Bill: Of an idea.
Lorenzo: Of an idea and then … But I think so many people think “I can’t do anything until I have that magical tagline.” And I would say go sell.
Bill: No. First you have to have the idea. You say “We’re gonna make the worlds safest cars,” or “We’re gonna build, we’re gonna make, our city is gonna be known as the adult playground of the world.” You have to know what your idea is to differentiate then come up with micro-scripts for people to remember it.
Lorenzo: Or, I think that happens more times than not is, go sell your idea and listen. Because the sales guy or the customer or the guy sweeping the office, they’re actually gonna be the one more times than not, they’re gonna give you the micro-script.
Bill: Well that’s what we were saying. What you can do is you can come up with an idea. You can come up with things you think are microscriptee, right? And you talk to people about them and you’ll hear people talk to you back but then the most powerful thing you can do is two things. One is to make your own, and some of them will work. But also listen to your customers because they will come up with some of the most creative things that you never ever thought of. That story about Airborne where the customers came up “Oh it’s a the one used by flight attendants.” They didn’t make that up. The point is that these micro-scripts, you want to find them. They’re the most powerful human communication tool there is. Once upon a time a big book writer said to me, he said “You ad guys, you can spend a whole week writing a six word sentence for taglines.” I said “Yeah because six words are what changed the world.”
Lorenzo: Hey that’s right. Amen.
Bill: All of history is remembered that way. Because that’s how our brain remembers it. When you talk about the two most fundamental things, find that dominant selling idea, that difference that makes a difference, that you can own, right?
Bill: That you can be best at. That people believe you can do that’s important and memorable. And then articulate it. And one of the most powerful things of all is to be able to come up with these, to start writing these micro-scripts. Practice makes perfect, there’s a micro-script.
Lorenzo: Practice makes perfect.
Lorenzo: Yeah. And in future episodes we’re gonna walk people through, we could do an episode on just city micro-scripts. You know, branding cities and … I think that there is a great episode of how politicians because it is infinite when they’re done well.
Bill: I wanna make one more point because you talked about that people will say it’s just a tagline. And you say “Well no, it doesn’t have to be,” but the taglines that you remember are the ones that, they’re taglines but written in micro-script. Another one people say it’s a soundbite. One of the most important things we realize is “No. It’s a story bite.”
Lorenzo: It’s a story bite.
Bill: It’s a story bite. So in other words, there are commercials, you’ve seen them before, where a guy comes in and he goes “What’s up?” Remember “What’s up?” These things where, for me even dilly dilly. I got a problem with dilly dilly. But what’s up, people run around remembering what’s up and they remember they talked about it but it was just a meaningless little thing. So you say “Well that’s great, what beer is that for?” I don’t know.
Lorenzo: Yeah. It didn’t make you buy anything.
Bill: I think it’s a beer commercial. I don’t even know. When you say “The bridge to nowhere.” Or you talk about the specific or Diehard batteries or invisible fence. There’s another, you know to keep your dogs in?
Bill: That’s a name that’s also a micro-script.
Lorenzo: The one that’s always confused me is Nike “Just do it.” Because, to me it doesn’t launch any story. But I feel like their brand is so famous that everybody knows it, but it’s not a micro-script.
Bill: That’s exactly right. This gets controversial because there’s probably about 500 different brand guru’s running around making speeches that are basing their whole career on the fact that they worked at Nike once and they’ll all tell you that they worked on the brand just do it, and so they get hired okay?
Bill: And so, this is anathema to them. But I will say that no there’s no way. My plumber could have that same tagline and he probably does. Or anything just do it. It really could be anything. The reason it works is because they have 500 million dollars, half a billion dollars to spend on TV commercials and ads …
Lorenzo: To hammer it into your brain.
Bill: … and to get the worlds most famous athletes using the product. You, dear listener … it’s like dear leader. I’m not talking about North Korea here. You our listeners, don’t have 500 million dollars to spend. It’s not a micro-script and it never would be. But when you have 500 million, people remember it. You don’t have that. You’ve gotta have a real micro-script which works on its own. Micro-script works on it’s own and we talked about this, the real brand for Nike was that they went out and they spent the money to get Michael Jordan and the worlds best athletes using it.
Lorenzo: I’ll tell you a campaign of theirs where I think they actually followed the rules correctly which was Beau Jackson. For the kids out there that don’t remember …
Bill: Oh yeah, Beau knows.
Lorenzo: Beau knows. He was a professional baseball player and a professional football player at the same time.
Bill: The greatest athlete ever.
Lorenzo: The greatest athlete of all time and I think the Beau knows campaign, you know Beau knows baseball, he knows basketball. But the idea was, here’s the guy who cross trained and they were selling the cross trainer.
Lorenzo: Such a unique idea but it actually launched the right story as opposed to just do it.
Bill: It also had, it followed some of our rules which was it was vivid, it was specific. It’s about a specific guy, Beau Jackson was the most famous athlete in the world, everybody knew that. And it had a little bit of rhyme and rhythm to it so it was really good. You look at, for example, Geico. If I say Geico the whole world can tell you “Fifteen minutes can save you,” right? The whole world knows that. Now they have the gecko, the lizard okay? The lizard, which I, if I saw the lizard you know what I’d do?
Lorenzo: I’d like to squish him.
Bill: I’d step on him.
Lorenzo: I’m sorry PETA.
Bill: But he’s a little bit, he’s sort of funny and stuff but the fact the matter is, if they hadn’t started and spent 20 years saying “15 minutes save you 15%,” they now have a platform that is so utterly well known and they know it for that micro-script which is a real value proposition, then you can fool around with lizards.
Lorenzo: Bill I think you’re bringing up such a great point because there’s gonna be some charlatan out there that’s gonna go to one of our listeners and say “Hey I was on the team that came up with the gecko,” and you need to pull the fire extinguisher off the wall and you need to spray them in the face with it immediately. As soon as they say that because sure, there’s no value add, sure it’s famous but the original idea was not the gecko.
Bill: No. The gecko was … you know what they do, they did the gecko to make it a little bit fun, a little bit humorous because they got so many darn ads out there. But they still finish most of the commercials with “Just remember 15 minutes will save you 15,” the announcer says that. But they can have fun with the gecko. If they started with the gecko, don’t get me started on the Aflac duck. That’s a whole different … you guys still remember the Aflac duck?
Lorenzo: That’s another episode.
Bill: I was gonna cook the Aflac duck. Actually that was gonna be the first, on the cover of the first book we were gonna have someone serving that Aflac duck for dinner. Holy jeez. Yeah. This is just a little introduction into these micro-scripts.
Lorenzo: There’s much more to come.
Bill: But remember you can find your micro-scripts they are indeed, they are magic words. Our brains can remember a zillion billion of these things instantly. They’re the ticket, if anything is the ultimate communication machine, these micro-scripts are it.
Lorenzo: To the brand new family out there, go pickup The Micro-script Rules by Bill Schley.
Bill: That’s right. Absolutely. Pick it up.
Lorenzo: Take away the day.
Bill: Yeah you got it. Well my single take away would be listen, find your big idea and find your micro-scripts.