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Use an Analogy to Pack a Punch… Togue Brawn shows you how

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:

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Top Gun 2013 Showcase.

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Quite possibly Portland's best networking event.
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Once again, we have received some very promising applications from some intriguingly innovative ventures. It's time to put Maine back on the grid and introduce the rest of the region to our talent and vision. The Top Gun program continues to receive a great deal of support from both the private and public sectors in the form of mentors and financial contribution. I am really pumped about this year's curriculum and can't wait to introduce the class of 2010.

If interested in applying, don't delay any further,

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