Nov 2, 2016
Selling the Intangible
How do you distinguish yourself with a product in a field that is not
only seen as a commodity service but is also difficult to understand? That is
the challenge that Andrea Goulet, CEO & Co-Founder of Corgibytes, LLC faced when
she and her high school friend, M. Scott Ford, began their software development
“Software development is the ultimate intangible to less-technical
buyers. It’s like sausage: people have no idea how it’s made. It’s a magic
box. So, how would we describe it to business people to help them both
understand what we do, feel comfortable with it, and appreciate the value of
our work to their bottom-line?”
“We knew we had to find a global metaphor to solve that problem. By
global, I mean that it would work on many levels: from describing what we
did, to explaining unexpected glitches that invariably occur, to justifying
changes, and even to describing our roles in the process.”
How They Did It
attacked this problem in a counter-intuitive way. Instead of running a
one-time brain-storming session with the self-imposed pressure of finding
“the” right metaphor that day in that meeting, we gave ourselves permission
to step back and take time to explore and be open to ideas that came our
way, trusting that the right metaphor would jump out from that process. We
knew the solution lay in getting outside our specific software world, so we
intentionally varied our experiences and observed what we saw. For example,
we went to art museums, we watched documentaries, etc. Many ideas popped up.
Then we tested them with friends and knew we would have the right one when
people said, “That’s great! Now, I get it!”
Ultimately, the winning idea came when Andrea and Scott were watching “This
Old House,” the home remodeling and improvement show, featuring Bob Vila.
During the show, Andrea blurted out to her now husband, “You are the Bob
Vila of software!” From there, it was an easy leap to the global metaphor
that would shape their business positioning and even values. They would be
the “software re-modeling” company.
“Re-modeling is so relatable,” says Andrea. “Everyone understands it. If
they don’t own a home, they have likely seen ‘This Old House’ or HGTV.
Everyone understands the concept”
The remodeling metaphor works for their business on many levels…
On their website:
“As a boutique software consultancy, we focus exclusively on modernizing
codebases, championing the idea of ‘software remodeling’ as a way to save
money over performing a complete re-write...”
Emphasizing one of their core values as “craftsmanship” and caring about
Describing Scott Ford, Co-Founder and Chief Code Whisperer, as “the Bob
Vila of software.”
Justifying unexpected needed changes, “Like remodeling a home, the
unexpected often arises in software development.”
Finding bugs in a client’s system that have to be removed, they compare it
to “finding termites in the walls of a house. It Is critical to get rid of
Explaining why a particular infrastructure change is necessary, they will
say, “It is like needing to replace outdated plumbing.”
The remodeling analogy meets the criteria for a winning metaphor:
- It is easy to understand
- It works for their audience (on many levels)
- It is appropriate in tone to the situation
How Can You “Remodel” What You Do?
What is your positioning challenge? What global metaphor can you use to help
your clients better understand what you do, embrace its value, and sign on
the dotted line?
Make What You Say Pay! — with Metaphors
P.S. Find out more about how you can “remodel” your software at:
Need to "Remodel" Your Presentation or Demo for Better Results?
Call today for individual coaching and
learn how to turn information into a story that sells. 212-876-1875
"Anne and I recently worked together on a speech I gave at a large
conference. She helped me turn a series of somewhat interesting points into
an expertly crafted, compelling and actionable story. Together, we built a
storyline with attention-grabbing headlines. We worked and re-worked the
language, making sure every word was important. Finally, Anne coached me on
the delivery. The result was so exciting - I've never been so well received
in a speech before. Thank you, Anne!" Kate Griffin, Vice President, CFED.org
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