Charismatic communicators are able to make the abstract meaningful, and the meaningful simple. Successful people achieve this effect with metaphors and stories. (Fortune magazine cited Jack Welch and Ronald Reagan as outstanding users of these techniques.)
Selling online is no different. In presentations, it’s critical to make the complexities of your sites and services simple to understand, and the simplicity of your points meaningful to your advertisers.
Most people use examples to help illustrate their points. However, the most skilled consciously use distinctive and meaningful metaphors, analogies and comparisons (imagery) to really drive those points home, as well.
Imagery Peppers The News
When Bill Gates was called before the Justice Department to remove his browser from Windows 98, he didn’t just say that Justice was being unfair and ridiculous. To make his point, he couched his statement in a comparison that he knew anyone listening could immediately relate to.
He said that telling Microsoft to remove the browser from Windows 98 was as ridiculous as telling automotive companies to remove radios from their cars, because it might put radio manufacturers out of business! (We’ll see what imagery he uses next, in the coming months.)
When asked why Disney was launching the GO portal on the Internet, Chairman Michael Eisner made his point crystal clear when he said, “We want to be a relevant company. I don’t want to have our company be in the railroad business while people are flying overhead in airplanes.” (The New York Times, 12/13/98)
Imagery Is Everywhere
Creating imagery to increase the impact of your point is a natural daily occurrence. How many of these have you heard or used?
- Bricks and mortar companies need to become clicks and mortar businesses to survive in the millennium.
- Bulls and bears invest in stock markets that crash, tank, take-off.
- We are cold as ice, hot as fire, down in the dumps, on cloud nine.
- We avoid putting all our eggs in one basket, build a nest egg, save for a rainy day.
- Are you a road warrior working in a dog-eat-dog world?
- With the new year, are you ready to spring into action, start with a clean slate, give it your best shot?
- Is your site the 800 pound gorilla of its category or is it only a blip on your customer’s radar screen?
- Do you know people who do not mix like oil and water or who go together like rhythm and blues?
- Does rejection bounce off you like bullets off a Sherman tank or are you drowning in a sea of disappointments??
- Are you right as rain, under the weather, on top of the world?
We use analogies (extended comparisons) to drive points home.
- You better stay sharp or you will be roadkill on today’s information highway.
- Minds are like parachutes. They work best, when open.
- Trying to compete without a strategic e-commerce strategy is like going off into the woods without a compass. You are going to get lost.
- Information is coming at us very quickly. It’s like drinking water from a firehose. If we’re not careful, we could drown.
- “A woman is like a tea bag. You never know how strong she is, until she gets into hot water.” (Eleanor Roosevelt)
Imagery Ignites Numbers
Imagine the impact of the following facts without the added imagery.
- A gigabyte can store a billion characters, roughly the equivalent of 1000 average sized novels.
- A billion dollars is enough to operate every school in America for five hours.
- Do you dump (instantly forgettable) demos on a media planner or are you nimble enough to translate those numbers into a meaningful picture for that buyer? Example: “The ideal user has $… household income, a house valued at $… and a budget of $…… In short, we are talking about the Bloomingdale’s customer, not the K-Mart shopper.”
- Do you “tell” or “sell” the number of unique visitors to your site? Example:(Talking to a buyer who is a football fan). “We reach 1,000,000 people. That’s 10 super-bowls of potential buyers for your product!”
- Do you argue cost against newer, lower priced competition or use analogies to show value in what you’re selling? Example: “Let me ask you a question, Ms. Buyer You fly for business. Do you want to be on the cheapest plane with the newest pilot in the cockpit? or Do you want a tested plane flown by a pilot with experience? (Buyer: “Obviously, the second.”) Exactly! The same is true with your advertising. You want it on a proven product-mover. XYZ gives you that track record of success and reliability, because of its…..”
Outstanding salespeople use carefully thought out, hard-hitting imagery to achieve emotional, visceral, gut understanding to:
- Position their site/service vs. the competition
- Neutralize objections
- Help buyers “get” the story
They know that the toughest sale is won, not only with the tools of a logician, but with the techniques of a poet as well.