3 Reasons Metaphorical Content Makes A Bigger Impact On Your Audience
If you haven’t thought about metaphor since you handed in your final “Animal Farm” essay in tenth grade, you might be inclined to skip right past this blog post. (I get it, high school was a prison sentence.) But hear me out, because while he might not appreciate this, Orwell actually had some lessons to teach us about B2B content marketing.
We’re taught that the best marketing copy is clear and concise – and that’s true. But that doesn’t mean it always has to be completely literal. When used thoughtfully, metaphorical writing can have a more powerful effect on your audience than literal messaging.
To be perfectly clear, the title of this blog is itself a metaphor. Despite what the recent rise of AI copywriters might lead you to believe, there’s no actual magic button when it comes to developing marketing content, metaphorical or otherwise.
But metaphors can give you an assist with your messaging and help create that light bulb moment for your prospects (now I’m mixing metaphors, which is confusing and not recommended – let’s move on). Here are three reasons to consider using metaphors in your marketing.
1. To Help Simplify The Complex
Recently, I spoke with a financial advisor about retirement planning (see Mom, I do listen to you). He asked whether I wanted to invest more aggressively or conservatively and, after correctly interpreting my blank stare as the cry for help it was, explained why I might want to consider a more aggressive approach, in spite of recent market volatility.
“Think of shares like cans of tuna that cost a dollar when the market is up,” he said. “When the market drops, so do the costs per share – let’s say, to 33 cents each. So even when the market is down, and you aren’t earning as much, you’ll be able to buy more shares without investing more. That will pay off when the market rebounds.”
It’s worth noting here that I spent two full years in the financial services industry, and a tuna fish metaphor is what finally connected the dots for me.
In this case, “complex” is somewhat subjective. The stock market is complex to me, but I’m sure it makes perfect sense to others. So think about your business and your value proposition in the context of your audience. Remember, even if you’re a subject matter expert, your prospects might not be.
Are the benefits you offer easily accessible and digestible? When you talk about your features and differentiators with prospects, do they get it right away?
If not, think about injecting some creative metaphors into your content. This can work well as a disruptive ad campaign, especially if there isn’t a marked difference between your products or services and your competitors. If they’re pushing literal messaging, creative metaphorical content can become your differentiator.
2. To Help You Stand Out
That brings me to the next benefit of using metaphor in your marketing – to differentiate your business from your competitors.
To illustrate this point, I’ll use Square 2 as an example.
We like to think we’re unique – and while I would argue we do bring a fresh approach to inbound marketing, the truth is that hundreds of digital marketing agencies claim to do the exact same thing we do.
So we have to tell our story in a different way.
Throughout our website, you’ll find romance metaphors peppered across various pages as part of our #LoveYourAgency campaign. It’s not just a unique way to talk about the work we do or how you can engage with us; it’s also a preview of the creativity and disruptive thinking clients can expect from our team. It shows as much, if not more, as it tells – which is another pillar of powerful writing.
3. To Help Make The Abstract Concrete
Speaking of showing instead of telling, let’s talk briefly about the human brain and how wildly inefficient it is. The brain, which accounts for only about 2% of your body’s weight, uses approximately 20% of its energy.
The brain is always trying to do less work. And trying to understand abstractions is a lot of work. Think about the difference between one million and one billion. It’s difficult to conceptualize, right?
But if I tell you that a million seconds is 12 days, and a billion seconds is 31 years, it becomes a lot clearer. That’s because you can far more easily process the difference between those concrete time periods than between two abstract numbers.
Concrete imagery makes a bigger impact on your audience than abstract ideas. It evokes an emotional response, which creates a kind of stickiness between your message and your readers, making it easier for them to remember who you are and what you do.
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