Now, there's no room for potty humor on a dignified site such as this. But the real subject I'm tackling does not stray at all from my headline--or, at least, not far enough for me to have stepped into 'doody'. Life is short, art is long...so here comes some serious shop talk about our common quandary.
In any art or line of work, we're all bedeviled daily by the superabundance of signs. Specifically, the signs of money-grubbing bastards selling the same thing that we are. The fact that our product is better--we think--means nothing if nobody sees it. So the first essential step is this: to compel the paying public, by whatever magic, to give our 'stuff' a try. The key word there is:
Real Magic. Not a game of smoke and mirrors involving discount prices and/or swaggering titles for bandy-legged work. If the work lacks Real Magic, the best signs will fail; it's only a matter of time. But the best work may sink if betrayed by our signs. Whatever our price point, whatever our title, our signs must promise Real Magic...and our work must deliver the goods. Our signs/titles/hooks/books must all be of a piece. Otherwise, we run the risk of fooling readers once or twice...then losing them forevermore.
Sign/title/hook/book...All these add up to our Package--which still isn't enough though our fingers are crossed. Until it's been blessed with Real Magic, the Package itself may seem plain, even though it's packed with quality, craftsmanship, style and much more. The Real Magic of any sign or hook makes light work of buyers' doubts and nails their two big questions: what's inside our Package Deal and what can it do for them?
Our signs are expected to answer these questions at a glance. We can be catchy and we can be cool, but unless they spy a Package Deal containing the 'fix' they want, buyers move on.
There's a wonderful book on the subject of smart marketing and signs or hooks that work. The book is called YOUTILITY.
Jay Baer, the author, describes Youtility as a change in focus:
"...stop trying to be amazing and start being useful. I don’t mean this in a Trojan-horse, “infomercial that pretends to be useful but is actually a sales pitch” way. I mean a genuine, “how can we actually help you?” way.
It's pretty clear what Baer would think about most of the titles contained in this list:
Of the first FIFTY (of 189) titles listed I have heard of one:
And I've heard of that one because it really did its job. It delivered something unique at the time: a Jane Austen novel rewritten as a Zombie story. The Youtility factor's at work because I'm told that a perversely literate mind is at play and I'm told precisely how what I'm getting will prove to be totally different. The Package Deal is clear to me: a literate writer conceived of this book...and a bold, bad-ass writer set out to pull it off. Definitely worth a look.
Sad to say, though, far more quick-buck writers are producing signs like these:
All right, it's time to
I'll evaluate my title now in terms of Youtility:
1) Tone/style: Eye and ear-catchingly cheeky, I hope, with its alliteration and use of the childish PP's. Some will--er--poo-poo I know. But my chances are better than they would have been with 'A Discreet Guide to Public Restrooms' or 'Continence for Civilized Travelers'. Better on one strict condition: that I make clear from the get-go that I have useful info to which the title is connected.
2) Universalizing: In using a new feature of my Seattle blog as a springboard here, I replaced the word Seattle with Intrepid. If our Package seems too local, its usefulness may not be seen.
3) Youtility-Plus: I provided links to a Jay Baer'sYoutility, along with two links to book titles.
4) Mytility Too: I seize this opportunity to provide a link to my Seattle blog, in which Potty Man was introduced. My motives are honorably mixed: the link may bring in more traffic to a blog some wrongly feel is only about Seattle. In fact, the blog's no more limited than the New Yorker magazine. Also: seen in its original context, the title's adaptation here will be even clearer.
5) Synchronicitility: As I began to write this post, I learned I'd already been scooped by the clever folks at Charmin--who also know a thing or two about Youtility. The Charminites had also given some serious thought to limited public rest rooms in U.S. cities their customers visit. Result: an incredible Website called Sit or Squat. There's no way to compete with a wonder like this...or resources like Charmin's. So I'm happy to pass on the link, with this single caveat: the maps are tough to navigate, with red and green icons mushrooming like clones in the final Matrix. (Green's for safe/clean restrooms, red's for those to avoid). Meanwhile, I'll continue my own, very limited Seattle version--with far more detailed notes. The link to Charmin's Sit or Squat:
Now I'll sign off by making good on the promise implied in my title: a little potty humor.