What do you do?
This is a question my Mum asks me at least once a month. She will no doubt pretend to listen as soon as I start telling her and then the story starts again the next time I see her. Christmas break can be a challenging time catching up with the extended family and fielding the same questions on repeat.
This year, I had my cousin in town for Christmas explaining his recent trip overseas. He was trying to describe a local dish he had eaten and I caught something useful in his delivery. He said:
“When I was in Thailand I had the best Tom Kha Gai - it was just like hot and sour soup but really creamy and light.”
I applied this principle to my work to explain to everyone what exactly I do:
"I create websites. Websites aren't like a brochure anymore, they are like a 24/7 resource tool for anyone wanting to help themselves, crossed with a sales and customer service team."
The analogy is not a cliche; It’s the easiest way to discuss our different jobs, lifestyles and experiences. It helps us to communicate with each other in a way that keeps all subject matter and people tuned in to a universal language.
- a comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification.
How does this apply to your sales & marketing, you say?
You can apply this simple structure to your business marketing message to clarify your brand position, explain your product or service, and relate to your customer in their own language.
This especially applies to the features vs. benefits argument of most products. For instance:
- Apple is like PC but with a stronger design focus and simpler user experience.
- Amazon Ebooks are like books, but you purchase and read them on a computer screen instantly.
- Optus is just like Telstra but are primed for family data sharing over business.
You can be recognisable and discuss the benefits of the product or service to the end user - without ever really going into the technical detail of what it is you are providing. You can piggyback on someone else’s marketing strategy, simply by explaining the differences in relatable language to your end user.
The formula is simple.
“__________ is just like _______ but is different because it _________ for you.”
Once you create this statement for your business, you can build any number of marketing campaigns that relate to the PEOPLE on the other end of the campaigns. not the stats.
Why it works?
You’re giving your audience a seat at the table, rather than a drive thru dinner. Allowing your company to be on the same level as your customers makes you more like neighbours than interstate relatives.
When to use?
When looking at your high level marketing message and language in relation to your Persona.
So, what does a decent analogy look like?
The best marketing comes from brands and businesses that take a step back and remember that we’re all people going about our day – seeing the world through our own lens or perspective. To that point – there are excellent opportunities to bridge gaps with your customers using relatable or common interest messaging.
A handful of the best analogies from marketing campaigns are:
Airbnb - Welcome Home
The message: AirBnb is like a hotel, but you’re staying in a home instead.
Why it works:
This brand have taken the feeling of home and placed the humanity back into the modern travel experience. It’s pretty much their only message, but when you’ve nailed it this well, why bother doing anything else?
Apple Music - Playlists are the new mixtape.
The message: Playlists are like mix tapes
Why it works:
Apple have become known as the most user friendly technology provider in their field, and that pretty much comes down to their ability to take things that are ‘techy’ and turn them into real life, human things. The launch of Apple Music from the tech giant took their iTunes product and pivoted it to an additional music subscription service (a la Spotify).
But you didn’t need to hear that. You needed to hear “Apple Music playlists are just like a mixtape, a boyfriend who lives inside your computer and knows what you like”
Invision - Design better, faster, together.
The message: Design isn’t like it once was - a 3 week, one person job.
Why it works:
Invision have realised the biggest problem people have is around the visual misinterpretation of creative design. “It’s just not what I thought it would look like in my head” has design teams everywhere in tears.
This product markets to the benefits of the consumer - it’s fast and collaborative and keeps everyone on the same page - a very difficult thing to do in creative industries.
Newcastle Permanent - Fast Forward your Home Loan.
The message: Your life is like your VCR (did I just sound old?) DVD or preferred Streaming Platform - you can control which direction it goes in.
Why it works:
Great example of a very simple analogy from a local NSW business, Newcastle Permanent. We’re all very familiar with fast forwarding these days. The pain associated with paying down a home loan and the satisfaction gained from ‘fast forwarding’ is oh so comforting to us. I actually even move my thumb in anticipation when I hear this. Well done Newcastle Permanent.
The power of analogies for human connection and communication cannot be beat. It’s not a new tactic by any standards, and can absolutely come off corny if not executed well, but when it’s done right your consumers will understand your brand, identify with it, and want to be a part of the community you are providing. B2B industries are no different - in fact, the more difficult the need for the product, the more necessary the use of the analogy.
BONUS: Further reading for marketing brown nosers like us:
There is a genius book by John Pollock that goes by the name ’Shortcuts’. If you haven't read this book and are in sales OR marketing - drop what you are doing now, head on over to your local book shop and get this book on its way.