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Just because you sell a service, doesn’t mean you should sell yourself short on an emotional level. It just involves understanding and following a simple rule:  Service businesses need to communicate tangibles.

This is especially important when people have a difficult time understanding exactly what you’re trying to sell them, like a complex financial or technical service, for example. Here’s where a mini-story — a metaphor or analogy — can come in particularly handy.

To generate your mini-story, ask yourself, “What’s your service like?”  Then come up with a list of metaphors that describe your service or the problem it solves.

People need to find a standard of identity or association, like being able to associate Prudential with a rock or Travelers with an umbrella.

Case in point: ADP, a company that provides outsourced HR administration services, ran an ad showing a frustrated executive trying to fashion a paper clip from a piece of wire.  The copy read: “Make your own paper clips?  No?  So why would you do HR administration in-house?” Or, if you boiled it down: “Trying to get by without our services is like trying to make your own paper clips.”

Giving tangible examples not only make your product more real — they give it a distinct personality and emotional resonance. That’s what effective selling is all about.

The complete research study cited in article 1 can be found at

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