Anne Miller — Words Matter Make What You Say Pay!
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Metaphor Minute: Mid-Summer Metaphor Mash-Up

The METAPHOR MINUTE Newsletter by Anne Miller

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.

So 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 quoted fee.

Commentary on the Iran Nuclear Negotiations
In response to an article by John Kerry (“Our Plan for Countering Violent Extremism,” one 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 to 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?

Metaphor Mess!
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 Vault?"

Enjoy the rest of your summer (literally, not metaphorically)!

Anne Miller
Make What You Say Pay — With Metaphors.

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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. © 2015. Anne Miller. -- PERMISSION TO REPRINT -- Feel free to reprint in company newsletters or articles. Just include ©2015, Anne Miller, author, "Metaphorically Selling,"
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