yellow umbrella in a sea of black umbrellas

01.28.2019

Branding  |  5 min read

Why You Need Your Small Business Metaphor

Created with Sketch.

Ellis Friedman

We know: thinking up your small business metaphor is probably not the most pressing issue you’re facing today. But a little abstract thinking can strengthen your business marketing strategies and also help potential clients conceptualize what your company embodies.

But how does one devise a metaphor to describe your business? Read on.

Building your business metaphor

Is your product or service something that improves the lives of your customers, or is it a little luxury that makes them feel comforted? If it’s the former, you might liken your business to a fruit or vegetable, since they’re synonymous with nutrition. If you’re more on the luxury side, consider likening your business to a dessert, which will encourage potential clients to treat themselves.

Your market status

Is your business focused on reliability, safety, flash, or eco-friendliness? Then maybe if your business were a car, you’d be a Toyota, a Volvo, a Corvette, or a hybrid. This can be a bit aspirational, but it should also be in line with your vision. Sure, you and everybody else would love to be a Mercedes. If you’ve got a higher-end good, that’s fine; but if you’re providing a product or service that’s aimed at being accessible, you might have to recalibrate the metaphor that describes your business. 

Strategic Planning kit

Your values

Your company’s values should heavily come into play in your metaphor. Think deeper about other businesses or people who embody what you do or want to embody. Do you mentor and nurture lots of customers? Maybe you’re an Angelina Jolie. Is your company a serious contender for being the best in your field and for really immersing yourself in the industry? You might be a Daniel Day-Lewis.

Why your metaphor helps you

Once you get your simpler metaphorical groove on, you can move into more in-depth and helpful business growth metaphors. Movie executives, book publishers, and investors in general love to hear that a product is “Something-meets-something-else.” They don’t want to hear that you’re a Honda-meets-Banana.

Here’s why.

Metaphors provide context

People need to know what you’re talking about, whether they’re a potential investor or potential customer. This isn’t an earth-shattering revelation, but a lot of people don’t know how to provide context to people outside their bubbles.

Think about the times you speak with people in science, mathematics, programming, or any highly technical or specialized field. Often, when they try to explain what they do, they receive confused, blank stares in return. You do not want to receive these stares—they don't grow business. Your business metaphor can help ward off these stares.

Metaphors prove previous success

When you can describe your service or product as a hybrid of two existing services or models, it sets a precedent for your success. If you wrote a book about a post-apocalyptic southern belle who fought a Battle Royale-style Civil War alongside Clark Gable, that might get you those aforementioned stares. But tell people you wrote Hunger Games-meets-Gone With the Wind, and people might say, “Hey, cool, I want to read that.”

That’s what a metaphor can get you: interest and understanding.

Metaphors distinguish you

If your product or service is well understood and/or very common, metaphors are less vital for obtaining buy-in but can be excellent marketing tools. Say you’re a life coach; describing yourself as “Yoda-meets-Judge-Judy” can help distinguish you from others in your field by positioning you as a wise yet firm hybrid of two known dispensers of wisdom.

How to find your business metaphor

Discovering your something-meets-something-else metaphor requires research and creativity. Since you’ve already done your car exercise above, you should be in the right mindset.

First, break down your business model or product into its most basic parts. Using as few words as possible, write down what product or service you provide.

Then go find other people or companies that provide the same or very similar products or services. List everything you can find, then cull together and keep the ones that are both successful and accurately describe you.

Lastly, think outside the business box a bit. Is there a movie or book character who does approximately what you do? Or is there a pop culture icon who is similarly positioned in their industry as you are in yours?

With the info listed above, discovering a metaphor that describes your business will be easier than you think.


Was this post helpful?

Subscribe to our newsletter

Fresh small business insights and ideas delivered weekly to your inbox, gratis.

Loading spinner Loading spinner

You may also like

{{ record.displayCategory | smartCapitalize }} | min read

 
Before you go...

Get fresh small business insights and ideas delivered weekly to your inbox.

Loading spinner Loading spinner
Subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
Loading spinner Loading spinner

What you'll get from it:

As a thank you for subscribing, we'll send you a copy of our 2018 Small Business Marketing Trends Report with insights from over 1,000 surveyed business owners. The gifts just keep on coming.

4 Reasons to Subscribe:
  • Weekly tips to dominate sales and marketing

  • Expert small business resources that cost you zero dollars

  • We're focused 100 percent on small business success

  • Righteous GIFs

    GIF of Ferris Bueler principal's assistant

P.S. We'll never give out your information. We'll only use it to send you awesome content and resources, if you're cool with that.

Infusionsoft is now Keap. That’s weird to write, but it’s also exciting.

In 2001, trying to get Infusionsoft off the ground, there were many times when I wanted to quit. I’ll never forget my wife, after two years of struggling to survive, hugging me and saying, “Keep going.”

Over the last two years, we’ve talked with thousands of small business owners to get a deeper understanding of their unique challenges in today’s market. We learned that it’s harder than ever to succeed in small business. Customers expect more. On-demand is the rule. There’s no shortage of platforms on which to complain. A failed job or two can be damaging to your business.

Keap is our signal to the world—and to ourselves—that it’s time to make it easier to succeed. We’re on a mission to simplify growth for millions of small businesses. Our new name is a nod to the tenacity of the small business owner and encompasses everything we know to be true when it comes to success: keep going, keep serving, keep growing.

Along with a new name, we’ve expanded to two products. Keap, our newest product, is smart client management software that helps service businesses progress leads to satisfied clients. Infusionsoft by Keap is powerful CRM and sales and marketing automation software for advanced business needs.

Both are designed to make it easier than ever for more small businesses to get organized so they can deliver great service and close more business.

Clate Mask signature

To your success,
Clate Mask
CEO + Co-Founder