Jimmy Fallon’s 60-Second Sales Hook

by Kevin

in Copywriting

jimmy-fallon-tonight-show-debutDid you watch Jimmy Fallon take over as the host of The Tonight Show this week?

It’s hard to fathom how much pressure he was under to get this moment right.

The last time NBC attempted to bring the popular 12:30 show into late night’s 11:30  “prime time” slot, it was a ratings and PR disaster.  Hard to determine if even Conan ultimately came out a winner in that debacle, but the whole affair certainly cranked the pressure dial for NBC and Fallon on Monday night.

There were a thousand ways he could have blown his first impression. The worst outcomes would’ve been if he came off as pandering to Jay and Johnny fans (with over-the-top homage to the history of the gig)…

… or to be the bull in a China shop kicking the down door and scuzzing up the joint with outrageous skits that could’ve easily missed the mark.

What he did instead was something masterful that instantly won the affection and confidence of 11 million viewers. It’s the same thing we, as marketers and experts, should be doing every time we get in front of a new audience. Yet, very few get this right.

So, with months to prepare and the eyes of the world staring him down, what did Fallon do?

He simply walked out and said “Hello, I’m Jimmy Fallon.”

Making no assumptions about predetermined objections or affections of any one viewer, he told us…

– who he is (a 39-year-old husband and father of a 6-month baby girl)

– where he’s from (Saugerties, NY, also introduced his parents in the audience)

– what he has struggled with (humanizing jokes about barely graduating high school)

– what he discovered along the way (story about begging to watch Tonight Show as a kid, discovered stand-up comedy, making it onto SNL)

– the result of that discovery (shocked to be hosting Tonight Show)

– and why that matters (heartfelt story explaining “to think there is some kid asking his parents to stay up and watch me”.)

It was the perfect tone for humanizing a bigger-than-life moment. His stories and sincerity in telling them took what could have been a blinding spotlight and reduced it to the soft glow of a cozy bar where conversation flows easily between friends.

To pull it off, Fallon leaned on a classic go-to story hook formula that never fails in the biggest moments. It goes like this:





You’ll see this same story hook formula used in everything from presidential inauguration speeches to classic print ads to 30 second TV spots during the Super Bowl.

Comics often rely on it to establish their persona when making a big debut, like a first appearance on national television, and, of course, their first minutes hosting the legendary Tonight Show.

What’s really cool about this formula is when less famous folks like you and me use it to introduce ourselves to audiences (speaking at conferences, during interviews or to visitors to our websites) it respects the moment – and the listener – by allowing us to share what makes us real.

Afterall, we only listen to and buy from people we know, like and trust. This is the secret to why we feel bonded to certain people and could care less about others. It’s all about the stories we tell, and our willingness to be human in sharing the details.

If you want to start using this simple formula to tell your own story, I’m happy to show you how. I’ve just completed a book called The 60-Second Sales Hook and it walks you through the formula step-by-step.

The book is off to the publisher and I’m promised it will be polished and ready for final approval this week (it’s fun to be on this side of a deadline for a change :-)

The paperback version will be for sale on Amazon next week, but I’ll be giving away free downloads of the book to subscribers of The Copywriters Edge, so stay tuned. I’m really excited to share this with you.

And in case you’re interested, I’ll also be posting some stuff about how I finally got out of my own way to get this book published after pulling my (tiny) hairs out over it for more than a year. (HINT: stop being a writer and become an author instead!)

For now I’m interested to hear what you thought of Fallon’s Tonight Show debut, so sound off in the comments!


{ 2 trackbacks }

How to sell your story | Kevin Rogers|Direct Response Copywriting Expert|Marketing Consultant|The Copywriter's Edge
February 20, 2014 at 12:01 pm
5 Content Publishing Models For Bloggers
May 20, 2014 at 9:02 am


Christopher Tomasulo February 19, 2014 at 10:45 am


Congratulations on the book! I’m looking forward to reading it.


Kevin February 19, 2014 at 11:02 am

Thanks, Chris. I’d be honored.

James February 19, 2014 at 10:47 am

Awesome, Kevin! Can’t wait to read your upcoming book.

He really hit the nail on the head. Who can’t remember (and recall the feeling of) being the kid who got to stay up and watch Carson or SNL? Powerful stuff.

– James

Kevin February 19, 2014 at 11:09 am

Thanks, James. I’d to have your feedback on the book.

Yeah, referencing that was a strong bonding moment for us viewers over 30 or 35.

I assume people under 30 never really had that experience because the landscape was so crowded by then. Younger people today still get the relevance of the late night shows on broadcast, but with youtube and cable channels in the mix, those days of begging to stay up and watch are long gone.

It’s a brave new world.

Ken February 19, 2014 at 3:56 pm

And trying to stay up until the end with the hopes of seeing a Mr. Bill skit. OOOHHH NOOO

Adel Refai February 19, 2014 at 11:14 am

Hey Kevin! Great article. It’s so cool how you notice those kinds of things in everyday life. I need to take more notice myself. Look forward to the book and I’ll definitely be sharing this post! (If it’s ok with you).

Kevin February 19, 2014 at 11:17 am

Hey Del!

A share would be a great compliment.

Thanks, bud.

Ryan Levesque February 19, 2014 at 11:25 am

Hey Kevin – great piece. I’m a huge Fallon fan (“man crush” style) – and loved that dissection. Just shared on FB for ya :-)

Kevin February 19, 2014 at 11:41 am

Hey Ryan… too cool of you. Thanks for sharing.

Ya, I don’t know how this dude could be any more likable. It’s going to be a blast watching him evolve and also to see how CBS and Letterman counter. Who will ultimately replace Dave and compete?

Bob February 19, 2014 at 11:40 am

Hey Kevin. Haven’t watched the Tonight Show since Carson. Love the ISDR formula. Love you and your blog. Can’t wait for your book!

Kevin February 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Thanks. I’m a huge Bob Berman fan as well.

Hope you’re doing great.


Brian McLeod February 19, 2014 at 11:41 am

Great post, Kev.

About Jimmy Fallon & the Tonight Show:

A) I’m a huge fan already.

B) I thought he was going to lose it emotionally a few times in the opening monologue which made it riveting to watch.

C) U2 bored me on the roof, but Bono’s performance on the couch blew me away.

But more importantly, I’m super excited about your upcoming book!

The KLT Hook, 60 Second Sales Hook, Figure Out WTF To Say About Myself When I Shake Someone’s Hand Hook… whatever it’s called – it’s like bottled lightning for folks who feel stuck about communicating their identity FAST.

I can’t say enough good things about it. You know this…

See you soon, hermano.

Kevin February 19, 2014 at 2:15 pm

Brian… you’re a great friend. Happy almost birthday buhro!

Greg Rollett February 19, 2014 at 12:58 pm

Hey Kev,

Killer stuff. I watched it last night (on demand) and loved it. Thought he was completely authentic and a real person. Jokes were spot on and his story was a perfect introduction.

Looking forward to the book. Listened to the introvert podcast with Carlton. You guys killed it. I’ve been writing about introverts in our newsletter for the past few months and the responses have been crazy. Anyway, just shouting a hello and killer stuff bro!

Kevin February 19, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Thanks a lot Greg.

Amazing how so many introverts feel so alone in it. Makes sense in a way. I like to tell them, “you’re not alone… even though you probably wish you were.”

Thanks again for your comments!


Erick Monzon February 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Hi Kevin, I really liked your post.

I Totally agree with your appreciation of the ‘go-to story hook formula’ since it’s something that’s never failed me in important moments. I’m very glad to hear about your new book and I’ll be looking forward to reading it when it’s done.

Take care,

Dana February 19, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Great breakdown. I took your course on KLT and am looking forward to the book.

Kevin February 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm

Thanks, Dana. How’ve you been bud?

I’m planning lots of cool new training about KLT and story selling.

I think you’ll dig it.


Brian T. Edmondson February 19, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Nice post and great analysis!


Joel Helfer February 19, 2014 at 2:32 pm

Congratulations Author:
Looking forward to reading it and maybe even getting an autographed copy.

As a fellow blazer, your 60 second sales hook has finally worked for my new business.

After retiring, looking for a new career, educating myself, repeatedly starting business ideas that providing zero income, and catching hell from wife wife and kids, that daddy went senile,
I finally stumbled by accident and persistence that’s making me money.

More in the firs two weeks than I’ve made in four years… and the best part is that my offer resonates on an emotional as well as financial level.

The 60 second sales hook in action.

Everyone should read this book. It’s a must. Can’t wait.

and Thanks

Zak Garcia February 19, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Awesome write-up Kevin. This is valuable information, you broke it down concisely and accurately. Thank you for your insights!

bill burns February 19, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Hey Kevin,

Great post.

Can’t wait for your book.

I’m no copywriter – and I didn’t see the show

so I’m perfectly qualified to comment on your post.

I’m familiar with the KLT formula – used something similar when presenting to corporate audiences 20 years ago – called it “Telling one on myself” – how I made the plane by 2 minutes – or left the presentation on the desk in my office and had to have it Fedexed, or got lost on the way over, etc.

With that, it seems that every webinar I attend, the presenter seems to drone on endlessly – telling us his/her life story (somehow don’t mind it as much from women ) why he’s qualified and his applying own version of KLT

and it almost always bores me to tears.

I think there is something about the “likeability factor” that Jimmy Fallon obviously has

I call it “easy to be with” – the guy you could easily have a beer with –

and the lack of an obvious ( unstated) agenda – as opposed to the guys on the webinars – who are there to “teach” but never without an offer in their back pocket.

Guess what I’m saying is KLT is necessary – but the best results come within a special case of the general principle.

And yet – we are all (almost) here to sell something – myself included.

Your take?



Charles Terrence Harper February 19, 2014 at 3:03 pm

I came here at the suggestion of Brian McCleoud. This was a good ten minutes that I spent here, and am now looking forward to your book. 10 minutes ago, Ididn’t even know you existed. Peace. CT

Kevin February 20, 2014 at 3:16 pm

It’s magic, Charles!

Thanks for stopping by.


Adam Levine February 19, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Another great post Kevin!! When you break these things down like this it is so powerful!! Looking forward to reading your book man!! Congrats :D

Kevin February 20, 2014 at 3:17 pm

Hey man! Didn’t I see you on QVC the other day?

Simon James February 19, 2014 at 5:53 pm

That’s a great article. Thanks Kevin. I’ll have to track down a copy of the show in the UK.

Looking forward to the book. Hope there’s a Kindle version.


Kieran McDonogh February 19, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Great post Kevin – it resonated with me on so many levels.

Haven’t seen Fallon’s show debut as we don’t get the Late Night Show here in New Zealand, but your breakdown of his performance via the framework of your KLT Formula gave me the insights.





Having had the good fortune and pleasure of hanging with your good company Kevin back in 2011, and you coaching me through this formula that day was HUGE. As simple as those 4 components to a story sound, the effect can be long-lasting and memorable.

I pretty sure I’m seeing many podcasters who get interviewed use the same or similar framework to the classic opening questions “Give our listeners a rundown of who you are, what you do and how is it you’ve come to us today?”.

In my case your KLT Formula has had a lasting effect. Cant wait for your book Kevin – yes, “best selling author” has a nice ring to it that suits you well. Its coming brother!


Kevin February 20, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Kieran… hey pal. I remember that day very well.

I believe your career skyrocket just after that. I take full credit :-)

How’s things? Are you still in NZ?

Robert Michon March 11, 2014 at 10:15 am

He’s come a long way since being the King of crack on SNL.

Good to see you share your wisdom in an easily accessible format.

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