Anne Miller — Words Matter Make What You Say Pay!
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Words Matter – Make What You Say Pay!


Metaphor Minute: Wear Clean Underwear

The METAPHOR MINUTE Newsletter by Anne Miller

July 11, 2013

Wear Clean Underwear

Let’s talk about fun stuff: death and parentless children. No? How about estate planning and probate?

Rather not? Too dry? Too unpleasant? Too far into the future to worry about now? Well, you might change your mind if you were talking to Bonnie Bowles and Kimberly Johnson of Wills & Wellness in Denver, Colorado. These ladies use metaphors and imagery to transform a dry, abstract and unpleasant topic into a timely, engaging, emotionally positive conversation that helps them win business quickly. Kim writes…

We do estate planning. Specifically, we want to protect a person’s children after the death of the parents and make sure that if they have to deal with the trauma of the loss of their parents, the children will:

  1. Always know that they are loved and always will be loved

  2. That their parents have made plans ahead of time to make sure they have everything they need financially and emotionally to get through life

  3. That they will be raised by people their parents have chosen to make sure that they have the best support system that they can possibly have

This is sad stuff right? Well, here's what we have done after going off the lovely suggestions in your “Tall Lady” metaphor book. We use metaphors and analogies appealing and understandable to parents so that they know how important it is to set up a plan ahead of time (knowing that hopefully this will never happen, but if it does, their children will always feel loved and cared for).

We explain that

  • A trust is like a backpack...without it, everything falls on the ground and no one knows who gets what or when (cue arguments, anger, misunderstanding & pain)

  • A trustee is like the director of a movie. Without the director - the movie is just a Polaroid, without a script and without intent and meaning...just a memory (cue what now?)

  • A retirement account is not a "nest egg" - but rather a "family piggy bank" that needs protection

  • Living without legal planning is like walking on a tight rope with no net - everything you own could be lost, your children could end up in foster care, (temporarily or permanently) and your medical decisions could be delayed or made by someone you don't trust

Their website is equally inviting visually and in stark contrast to the many other more formal and intimidating sites in their field. Even the metaphorical title of their free estate planning book “Wear Clean Underwear” arouses curiosity rather than dread.

Translating these tough issues into family friendly images relaxes W&W’s prospects and makes the importance of estate planning not only user-friendly and easy to grasp but also more urgent to implement.

Your Turn
What is dry, dense, or dreary about the information you have to present? What verbal and visual metaphors and analogies can you use to inject interest, energy, and urgency into that information?

Make What You Say Pay — With Metaphors.
Anne Miller

P.S. For more information on Bonnie and Kim and to get a free copy of “Wear Clean Underwear,” visit 

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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. © 2013. Anne Miller. -- PERMISSION TO REPRINT -- Feel free to reprint in company newsletters or articles. Just include ©2013, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling,"
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