A successful entrepreneur shares her thoughts on business success and failure.

How to Be the Most Memorable Person in the Room


Be memorable “I came to South by Southwest. In a kayak.”

Tyler Tervooren and I were walking along the street toward my rental car to head out and grab the best chicken wings in town for lunch at South by Southwest.

Tyler decided to stay in a hostel directly across the river from the Austin Convention Center. And although he took the bus from the hostel to the convention center every day, he told me he envisioned renting a kayak and simply kayaking across the river. “It’s a straight shot,” he said.

While Tyler saw kayaking across the river as an interesting story, I saw it as an example of something else: something I’ve recently been completely fascinated by. I call it the 100% verbal opt-in, and I’ve lately become obsessed with documenting this phenomenon.

While “opting in” in web lingo means having a person give you their email address to subscribe to your list, I consider a verbal opt-in to be when you pique someone’s interest enough with just one or two sentences that you get them to ask, “What do you mean?” or “Tell me more.” That acknowledgement is their way of “opting in” to your story.

Not only did I become fascinated by the introductions that made people verbally opt-in 100% of the time, I started noting them when I came across them. As we walked down the street, I explained verbal opt-ins to Tyler, and mentioned that his kayak story was a shining example of a 100% verbal opt-in. After hearing that he came to South by Southwest in a kayak, it would be hard to resist saying “A kayak?” or “What do you mean?”

Pattern Interrupts: The Key to Being Memorable

If you have studied NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), you will recognize this as an example of a pattern interrupt. That is, when people meet you, they expect you to say certain things. “Hi, I’m Tyler, and I’m a blogger,” is what they’d expect–it’s all about who you are and what you’re doing. (At least in America, we’re obsessed with the “What do you do?” question–and defining ourselves by our work.) But you can pattern interrupt easily by coming up with a creative story instead.

“Hi, I’m Tyler, and I came to South by Southwest in a kayak,” will not only pique their curiosity enough to get you the verbal opt-in, but it will make you instantly memorable. Here, in a room full of web designers, real estate agents, and social media douchebags, er, “experts”, you are unique. Different. Interesting.

If you hone your pitch to the point where you can get 100% verbal opt-in, you will find yourself quickly becoming, well, famous.

You see, however, there is a catch to all of this, and it’s why many of those other people who read this article will not attempt such a feat. Going for the 100% verbal opt-in means being different. It means having unique stories to tell, and it means living your life in a way that’s slightly off from the norm.

The Courage to Be Different

If you live your life as an insurance agent, for instance, it may require not only taking a vacation to a country most people would never visit, but actually re-crafting your story, so that when you introduce yourself, you’re no longer Bob the insurance agent, but Bob the guy who went to India and climbed the Himalayas in search of a mythical healer who lived in the mountains. (If you leave the story there, you’ve opened a loop that most people will find irresistible to ask you to close. “Well, did you find the healer? What happened?” 100% verbal opt-in. Like magic.)

If you go for the 100% verbal opt-in, it doesn’t matter what you sell or who you are in your day job. You will find that people naturally gravitate toward you, that people are constantly coming up to you and saying “Have we met before?” or “You look familiar.” In a sea of sameness, you will stand out. And, not surprisingly, you will have less effort selling whatever it is that you hawk in your business–even if it’s in a commodity market.

Creating a 7-Figure Business in Mere Months

I have consulted for so many people who are scared of commodity markets. When I started Whoosh Traffic, for instance, people seemed surprised that I was starting an SEO company. “Isn’t SEO dead?” they asked me. Au contraire…SEO is a thriving market with businesses willing to spend a lot of money on it.

Before I started Whoosh Traffic, I engaged other SEO services to see what gaps the market had. I found two major gaps. One, the market was full of individuals, often from other countries, who built links to your site and then sent you a list of the links they had built. These services were generally effective, but unwieldy. You had to pay the people via Paypal, usually weekly. You had to double-check all their work and ensure they weren’t building links on the same site over and over again, and confirm that all the links they built actually were linking to your site. They were inexpensive, but exasperating–managing them required a lot of work on your part.

The second gap was more interesting. We found quickly when we launched Whoosh Traffic that many of our customers didn’t know exactly which keywords to optimize for. We quickly adjusted and started offering a free 30-minute “keyword consult” to all of our new customers. In this consult, I personally walk through keyword analysis, showing our customers how to do their own analysis, what keywords they should go for, breaking down how their competition is doing SEO, and even how to redo their website to rank better in the search engines.

This analysis has proven immensely popular, and it’s also helped us gain feedback about the Whoosh Traffic website and user interface. We’re now working with a designer to redo our website to better address popular customer questions.

What Your Competition Can’t Do

This high-touch method is one thing most of our cheaper competition will never do, and it’s why I’ve been so insistent and vocal about doing these consultations myself, even though they can take up to 10 hours a week of my time. Yes, they could be easily outsourced, but I gain so much valuable insight into how our customers work that I’ve been happy and grateful to perform them.

There’s nothing more valuable for a business owner than talking to customers and understanding why they chose you (and why they almost didn’t choose you!) It’s that high-touch difference that allows you to grow a company quickly in any market. It’s exactly what I brought to the hosting industry. And it is why I am pleased to announce that after being open for only 5 months, Whoosh Traffic will hit 5 figures of revenue this month, and will be well into 6 figures of revenue in its first year. That’s with no outside investors and very little capital invested.

Whoosh Traffic could very well be a 7-figure business within 2 years of its opening. It has the potential to be a far larger company than my hosting company. (My hosting company didn’t hit 6 figures of annual revenue until the end of its third year!)

We’ve grown Whoosh Traffic so fast with no marketing so far…all that growth is from people who read this blog. I am extraordinarily grateful for my amazing community and how so many of you have chosen to engage our services…and I am amazed when I look back and realized that it all started with one story that made so many of you ask, “How did you do that?” or “Tell me more.”

That’s the power of being memorable.

Want to get started making money online? On Monday night, I’m co-hosting an online workshop with Chris Guthrie. Chris has generated over $1,000,000 in Amazon product sales, netting him about $90,000 a year, all from websites that you can set up too (no geekery required!) The online workshop is 100% free, and will show you exactly how to get started. You must sign up to attend: Sign up here now! Don’t miss this free workshop.

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I'm Erica Douglass.
After selling my online business at age 26 for over $1 million, I created this blog to help you grow your own business quickly.

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