Does Your Message Include “Concrete Imaging?”

Authors Chip Smith and Don Heath cover an interesting selling dynamic in their book, Made to Stick. The authors cite all sorts of research and findings about how the buyer’s memory works, and there is one point in particular that stands out to me as a salesperson. That is:

“Our buyers are much more likely to remember an important part of our value proposition if it is communicated to them in concrete rather than abstract imaging.”

Here is an example.

Let’s say I am a financial planner and I have an offering I want to communicate to my client that is potentially the fastest growing investment vehicle I represent.

I could say: “Bob, I have one investment here that I think could really take off and become a high performance part of your portfolio.”

Or I could say: “Bob, this next investment I am going to talk about is what I call my Porsche offering. It is not for everybody and involves some risk but it has the potential to really take off if the patents they have pending are approved.”

According to Smith and Heath, by converting the more abstract phrase of “high performance” with the concrete imaging of a “Porsche,” we greatly increase the clarity and impact of the statement.

There is a secondary benefit to such translation as well. Brands like Porsche, Tiffany & Co. and Rolex have established powerful reputations and imagery over many years and through millions of dollars of marketing and advertising. Yet it costs us absolutely nothing to leverage such powerful brand recognition to create memorable points about our own goods and services to our customers.

This week, think about your own value proposition and experiment with ways to convert abstract features and benefits to more concrete images. It does not always have to involve linking to a famous brand. It could just be a matter of slightly changing a phrase from “very strong” to “rock solid.” Part of the fun of the selling game is the never ending honing of our presentation and messaging, and using concrete imaging can have a big impact on the impressions we make.