Anne Miller — Words Matter Make What You Say Pay!
Presentation & Sales Specialist
Author | Speaker | Coach
Words Matter – Make What You Say Pay!


Metaphor Minute: To Sell The New, Link To The Old




November 25, 2009

To Sell the New, Link to the Old

Mary Tripsas, associate professor in the entrepreneurial school of management at the Harvard Business School noted that when early automobiles were first introduced, people were very confused as to what to make of them or call them. And why wouldn’t they be? They had no frame of reference for understanding them. A clunky vehicle with wheels? Not exactly catchy. A car? No connection to anything they knew at that point. Eventually the term “horseless carriage” was coined to help them grasp what these new contraptions were. That worked because everyone knew what a horse and carriage was and could therefore make the leap to a “horseless carriage.”

Technology may have changed since the late 19th century, but how we, as humans, mentally process information hasn’t. We still have an instinctive need to sort and classify things in our minds to make sense of them. This is true not only in business, but in social situations as well. When you go to a cocktail party and you meet someone new, don’t you very quickly ask a variation of “What do you do?” or “Where are you from?” You need that information to peg people in your mind so that you can have a more meaningful conversation.

For Your Business
Bill Herp, founder of Linear Air, a locally based airline in Boston, provides custom-scheduled flights that let people avoid the nuisances of commercial travel for less than a larger business jet or charter would cost. It isn’t exactly an air taxi or an on-demand charter, so how to explain it to potential customers? He tried many different ways until he hit upon the one metaphor that worked: Herp describes Linear Air as “Boston Coach with wings” Local customers, familiar with the popular Boston Coach bus franchise, instantly understand the service and its value proposition.

Launching a product, service or website? Make it easy for people to get excited about your launch. Help them easily categorize it in their minds and associate it with quality and positive feelings.

Have a very Happy Thanksgiving.

See you next month. Remember to Make What You Say, Pay—with metaphors.
Anne Miller, "Metaphorian"

Mary Tripsas, “It’s Brand New, but Make It Sound Familiar,” NYTimes 10/4/0

Glad to Help...
“I had the benefit of Ann's coaching at a point in my career where extensive client presentations and industry speeches were critical. She imparted skills that really enhanced my effectiveness in a variety of speaking situations..... these skills have made public speaking a strong personal asset.....and frankly, an occasion that provides tremendous personal satisfaction”
Gary Lineberry, Senior Financial Executive, Horton International

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"The Metaphor Minute" is a brief monthly note with examples from business, media, or politics that illustrate the power of metaphors and analogies to make a point, solve a problem, and get results. Use these stories to stimulate high pay-off metaphoric thinking in your business. © 2009. Anne Miller. -- PERMISSION TO REPRINT -- Feel free to reprint in company newsletters or articles. Just include ©2009, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling,"
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