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


Metaphor Minute: Open Conversations, Close Deals with an Iceberg


Feb 17, 2016

Close Deals, Open Conversations with an Iceberg

What do you explain that

  • Is complex?
  • Requires broad resources?
  • Seems simple--or similar to others--but which you know isn’t?

Icebergs make great metaphors for quickly addressing all of the above. Why?

  • Everyone understands the associations evoked by an iceberg image: that what is below the surface of an iceberg is significantly larger and more consequential than what is visible to the naked eye.
  • Icebergs are easy to imagine and create in a presentation or on the back of a napkin.
  • Icebergs stick in people’s memory.

Here are three examples:

To Provide a Success Snapshot for New Hires
I do a variety of seminars for clients, one of which is Negotiate Like a Pro. People always want the quick answer to how to be a better negotiator. They think there is a magic bullet to getting a good deal. I use an iceberg to illustrate that there is NO magic bullet to a good deal, that a good deal depends on a number of hidden factors that people tend to overlook, e.g., Knowledge (of them, yourself, the industry), the people (their styles, interests), etc.

After we cover one area, I show the iceberg again and highlight the next factor, so that by the end of the session, the cumulative effect of seeing the one visual repeatedly drives home the importance of what needs to be planned before going into a negotiating situation. Then, they use all the factors in a negotiation case with better results than they would otherwise have realized.

Assuming you bring new people on board regularly or that you even coach individuals, what training iceberg can you use to help them quickly grasp the underlying success drivers for their job?

To Show Value to Clients or Colleagues
Howard Benson, CEO, National Community Development Services, Inc. an Atlanta based community and economic development fundraising company builds value for his services with the venerable iceberg.

It is one thing to have a focus, vision and even a strategy, notes Howard, but the iceberg image illustrates that without leadership, appropriate public/private cooperation, informed investors who are courted by competing organizations, and community buy-in, any fund-raising effort even with the best goals in the world won’t be successful. And, of course, NCDS offers those services.

The iceberg metaphor is useful to Howard in many ways. It can be

  • The basis for a full discovery/needs assessment discussion
  • A springboard for uncovering needs a client didn’t know he had
  • An easy-to-understand snapshot of his services
  • A simple way to identify key players in each area
  • The basis for laying out an approach or solution to a specific situation

What would your value iceberg to a new client look like?

To Position Your Market Expertise
Branding to most people usually only means a logo, like Nike’s Swish. But leading Atlanta brand identify firm Matchstic uses an iceberg to explain the true complexity of a brand while simultaneously positioning itself as the experts to handle your business.

  • “A brand isn’t just one thing. It’s the total of several pieces functioning together to create a reputation. An iceberg is a good analogy for understanding the complexity of a brand and all its parts. The tip of the iceberg is your brand name and brandmark. They’re the most simple and visual expressions of the brand. Countries have flags, companies have logos. Too often a logo is seen as something that exists on its own, disconnected, like a piece of ice instead of the tip of the iceberg. A true brand mark is much more than a signature. Over time, it becomes synonymous with the company, its reputation and its ethos.”

  • “Beneath the tip of the iceberg lies the larger visual identity system – the overall look and feel. It determines elements such as color, fonts, graphic styles, photography, key messages, voice and tone. Below the water lies the unseen, yet all-important foundation of it all: the brand strategy. This work is about defining the different aspects of the brand, including personality, core purpose, positioning, target audiences and the central theme—the BIG IDEA.”

  • “All of the different parts of a brand work together to create a solid and cohesive whole. Each piece is as important as the next and you can’t have one without the support and strength of the others.”

What would your education & expertise iceberg look like?

Keep it Simple
Metaphors and Analogies make the complex simple and the simple meaningful. An iceberg can do both for you.

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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