Aug 12, 2015
Mid-Summer Metaphor Mash-Up
If you read “The Tall Lady With the Iceberg” (the updated “Metaphorically
Selling”), you may recall I recommend that you keep a “Metaphor Vault,” a
collection of metaphors that you read, see, or hear that you can tap into for
direct application or for inspiration when you have a specific need to really
drive home your point.
My vault is overflowing! So, I am going to share some of these with you. They
illustrate just three of the infinite ways you can use metaphors to nail your
point and make the impact you want.
Swift vs. Apple
You wouldn’t think one person with one analogy in one post could bring Apple to
its knees but Taylor Swift did just that in June when she got Apple to change
its royalty free three-day trial offer for its new streaming music service.
While the financial hit to Apple would have been negligible, the effect on
various recording labels and artists would have been substantial. And Taylor
wasn’t having any of that.
what did she do? Did she rant and rave like Donald Trump? No! She presented a
very balanced appeal in an open letter to Apple on
Tumblr to repeal their policy and then clinched her argument by referencing
a situation Apple could not deny.
“But I say to Apple with all due respect, it’s not too late to change this
policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply
and gravely affected by this. We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please
don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation.”
Apple reversed its decision.
Take-Away: A most effective
analogy choice is one taken from the actual world of your listener that has the
absolute ring of truth to them. Swift’s response is a powerful one to use with
anyone who tries to lower your price or who demands excessive services for your
Commentary on the Iran Nuclear Negotiations
In response to an
article by John Kerry (“Our Plan for Countering Violent
writer sent this disagreeing Letter to the Editor of The Wall Street Journal:
“The bullies are beating up the kids on the playground while the school
administration is having a meeting to plan for a school party.” Letter to
the Editor, WSJ, 7/8/15.
Take-Away: Politics aside,
this analogy is a variation on “Rome burned, while Nero fiddled.” It sets up a
vivid alarming visual contrast in a current situation.
What’s “burning” and who is “fiddling “in your world? Are you up against people
who want to stick to old systems, technologies, policies, procedures, or
products? How can you set up a similar, but relevant, analogy to jar people out
of their thinking and rally them to your cause? (For other metaphoric takes on
the Iran deal, see previous newsletter,
Good Deal? Bad Deal?)
Sun, Fun, & Safety
As you hit the beaches, the “burning” question, no pun intended, is, just how
effective is sunscreen and how often should you reapply it to be safe? According
The New York Times, the surprising answer is that sunscreen is actually
quite effective, but the real danger seems to be that we don’t apply enough of
the stuff to protect ourselves.
How much is enough? One ounce. Got that? Can you “see” one ounce? Or can you see
it better when you read “a full ounce—or the amount a shot glass holds”?
Take-Away: Numbers by
themselves tend not to be very dramatic or easy to see, but the minute you
compare them to something your listeners can visualize they instantly see that
quantity in a way that is easy to understand, appreciate, or be wowed by.
Look at the key numbers you present. To what can you compare them to make them
come alive for your listeners?
And then there are the metaphors that don’t work, usually
because they are totally mixed up. Here’s one from “Block That Metaphor!” an
item that runs periodically in The New Yorker:
“People know they’re in a hole,” said Mr. Castellanos, the Republican
advertising consultant. “What they want is to know that there is a light at the
end of the tunnel. They don’t want you to throw the baby in the tunnel!”
(I should hope not.)
Take-Away: Test your
metaphor with friends or colleagues before you use it. You don’t want to jump
off the diving board and land in a cow patch, if you know what I mean.
With a nod to Capital One’s TV commercial’s tagline, “What’s in your
wallet?“ let me ask you, “What’s in your Metaphor
Enjoy the rest of your summer (literally, not metaphorically)!
Make What You Say Pay — With Metaphors.
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