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How to Use "Upwords" to Increase Response
by Michel Fortin
I once took a media communications course in which I discovered an interesting example of the way the mind works. As part of a given lesson, a videotape was shown of a televised newscast during which a journalist was about to give a live report on a forest fire that was devastating the mid-west. The news anchor in the television newsroom said: "We now take you to Sally Smith -- she's in the station's helicopter flying above the scene of the fire."
He then turned around to face the background screen, which gave a live bird's-eye view of the raging fire, and asked: "Sally, tell us, how big is the fire?" In a voice partially drowned by the whizzing sound of helicopter blades, Sally reports: "John, it's so big, it's covering well over 140 acres of land -- that's about 200 football fields back-to-back for you and me."
You Ought to Be in Pictures
As you can sense from the above example, people don't think in numbers -- they think in pictures. The mind does not think in words either -- unless it is told to do exactly that. The mind is a simple organ and it hates confusion. It will naturally translate words or phrases into their visual equivalent. For instance, if I told you to think of a garbage can, you're not going to think "G-A-R-B-A-G-E." Your mind will automatically visualize some sort of garbage can.
Why do you think Microsoft Windows and the MacIntosh computer dominate the marketplace in operating systems? It is because, rather than having to type an elaborate command for your computer to execute, you can simply use your mouse, point to an icon, and click. These icons basically represent programs. They contain a string of numerous commands that are in fact translated into a language the computer understands. Our mind works in almost the same way. It instantly translates what it's being told into something it can easily understand.
What I call UPWORDS are effective in any conversation, sales call, or written message in that they simply help the message to be better understood and appreciated. Mark Twain once said that "numbers don't stick in the mind, pictures do." In fact, the word "upwords" is actually an acronym that stands for universal picture words or relatively descriptive sentences. Upwords are examples, analogies, metaphors, symbols, picture words, colloquialisms, and so on.
Use "Upwords" to Move Upwards
For example, a challenge among cosmetic surgeons is the fact that people will call for a quote over the phone when obviously the doctor needs to see the patient beforehand. Since cosmetic surgery is an uncommon process, doctors will often use the more common dental work as an analogy -- unlike surgery, most people have had their teeth done at some point in their lives. So, they'll say: "Like a dentist, I can not give an estimate over the phone without any x-rays of your teeth or the knowledge of how many cavities you actually have."
Beauticians usually face the same problem. Since many customers tend to shop around for these types of services, and since beauty is a subjective thing, then making a decision based on price alone can be detrimental to both the consumer and the business. So, using art as an analogy, beauticians will say: "A makeover is a makeover just like a painting is a painting, but there's quite a difference between a Rembrandt and a preschooler's fingerpainting."
If you're a computer programmer trying to sell your services to the plant manager of a farm equipment manufacturer, and in your presentation you provide complex technical data in abstract computer technolese, you will obviously do very poorly. You must therefore mold your message in a way that it can be easily understood by farmers or plant workers.
We all come from different backgrounds. Our education, experiences, and environment help to condition our thinking. Therefore, use analogies, metaphors, and picture words in your presentation that will make your message easier to understand by the other's personal set of circumstances. As Jack Trout once said, "A word is worth a thousand pictures."
[This article has been condensed in great part from "101 Power Positioning Tips For Turning Your Business Into a Powerful Magnet." See http://SuccessDoctor.com/power.htm.]
About the Author
Michel Fortin is a consultant dedicated to helping businesses turn into powerful magnets. Visit http://SuccessDoctor.com to receive a free copy of his book, "The 10 Commandments of Power Positioning." He is also the editor of the "Internet Marketing Chronicles" ezine delivered weekly to 90,000 subscribers -- subscribe free at http://SuccessDoctor.com/IMC/.