from Guest Blogger David Lee:
Two weeks ago, I heard one of the coolest examples of how analogies make your point pack a
punch. It happened at a “pitch fest” hosted by the
Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development’s
Top Gun program.
Ten entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to an audience
of several hundred, competing for a $10,000 prize.
It was also a chance to hone their pitch craft.
Several entrepreneurs stood out for their speaking
One of them was Togue Brawn, founder of Maine
Dayboat Scallops. who will be speaking on June
24th at the upcoming Maine Startup and Create
First, she clearly had passion for the impact her
business would have in the lives of her customers
and the fishermen she served.
In fact, after the event, I was talking about what a dynamo she was to a seasoned angel
investor–a man who has seen it all. He laughed and said, in true When Harry Met Sally
fashion–“Yeah…I want whatever she’s having!”
Besides her passion, one of the other aspects of Togue’s talk that stood out for me was how she
used a powerful analogy to capture the difference her business makes.
In Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath cite analogies as being one of the six power tools of the
communicator who wants to make their idea “sticky”–i.e. people can’t get it out of their heads.
Why are analogies such a powerful communication tool?
1. They translate the unfamiliar into the familiar…making your idea easier to understand.
2. They translate the abstract into the tangible. The brain has a much easier time
processing concrete images and situations from real life than it does making sense out
of abstract concepts. Also, because concrete images and real life situations have a
strong sensory component, they evoke more emotions that abstract ideas that only
involve the intellect. BTW…notice that this point is an abstract concept. Now…let’s share
a specific situation and concrete image that will make this point much more
Before you hear Togue’s analogy, here’s some quick context, so it makes more sense…
As part of her Origin Story, she shared her epiphany about the plight of Maine’s scallop
fishermen and their customers. Most commercially fished scallops that are caught in federal
waters in boats that are out to sea for a week or more. These scallops, when sold to consumers as
“fresh” can be 12 days old. Maine’s scallop fishermen are all of the dayboat variety, meaning
they go out and come back with their catch in one day.
Their scallops are a day old. But…because no delivery system existed to get these into
customers’ hands, Maine day scallop fishermen can’t charge the premium price their premium
product deserves. Instead, their uber-fresh scallops have to go to the same processing plants as
the federal water harvested scallops that are several day’s old. So day old scallops get mixed in
with a week or more old scallops.
Now here’s the analogy Togue used to make her point about how this didn’t make sense:
“That’s like pouring a bottle of Dom Perignon into a bathtub of Barefoot bubbly,” she noted.
When I heard that, I thought “Score! What a way to capture the difference.”
While there’s a reason why Barefoot wine is a popular brand, there’s a reason why Dom
Perignon has a cachet that popular consumer brands’ don’t. If you made Dom Perignon, would
you want it blended into any popular consumer wine and sold at that price or…would you want
to get the price your product should command?
While giving the factual differences between scallops harvested in federal waters vs. those
harvested by local scallop fishermen made for a clear comparison at the abstract, intellectual
level, Togue’s analogy made it tangible. The listener could instantly get the difference at a
deeper, more experiential level.
Hence, the power of a good analogy.
So…if you want YOUR ideas to pack a punch, start generating analogies to make your points hit
To learn more about how to use analogies and stories to make your ideas more interesting and
persuasive, come to: