Monday, May 27, 2024
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Making it Real

When talking about the benefits of a product or service, it helps to have quantifiable results or metrics.  It’s one thing to be able to say that your product is “high performance”, but quite another to say it’s “Twice as fast” as your leading competitor.

Often however, these results can still be a bit intangible for prospects, particularly those who don’t have much experience with your particular type of product.

There are lots of ways that you can make your metrics more real in the mind of customers.  Here are a few common ways to get it done:

  1. Use finite numbers vs. comparative numbers – A 2% increase in sales doesn’t sound all that impressive but if you tell me you sold 40,000 more units or increased revenue by $2M, that 2% sounds a whole lot more interesting.
  2. Compare to common measurements  – 41 hours doesn’t seem all that long but did you know you could drive from L.A. to New York in that same amount of time?  25,000 miles flown probably wouldn’t even get you any special status on your airline but it would be far enough to fly you around the world once.
  3. Make an emotional connection – Non-profits are the experts at this.  Feed the Children taught us that $10 a month can feed a child in Africa and Habitat for Humanity has taught us that fully one third of the people in the United States have housing problems and that 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises are unintentionally caught and killed each year due to unsustainable and irresponsible fishing practices.

The other day I was driving and listening for the traffic report on AM radio.  The 2 minute news broadcast included a report on “the environmental impact of spam”.  This report stated that “the greenhouse gas emissions associated with 1 spam email message was equivalent to driving a car 3 ft (1 meter).”  This seemed a bit abstract to me but what I was really impressed with was the fact that MacAfee had managed to express the results of their research in such a way that not only did the mainstream media understand it, they considered it “news”.  The full report is here and is full of examples of what I’m talking about in this post.  For each point they give the statistic and then back it up with an illustrative example to make the stat real.  Read the following list and imagine how memorable oe “real” each statement would be if you only got the statistic and not the illustration:

  • Globally, annual spam energy use totals 33 billion kilowatt-hours (KWh), or 33 terawatt hours (TWh). That’s equivalent to the electricity used in 2.4 million homes in the United States, with the same GHG emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using two billion United States gallons of gasoline.
  • Spam filtering saves 135 TWh of electricity per year. That’s like taking 13 million cars off the road.
  • If every inbox were protected by a state-of-the-art spam filter, organizations and individuals could reduce today’s spam energy by approximately 75 percent or 25 TWh per year. That’s equivalent to taking 2.3 million cars off the road.
  • The average GHG emission associated with a single spam message is 0.3 grams of CO2. That’s like driving three feet (one meter) in equivalent emissions, but when multiplied by the annual volume of spam, it’s like driving around the Earth 1.6 million times.



  1. April:
    This is a great post. It goes right to the heart of what the Heath brothers talk about in “Made to Stick” – in order for messages to have more impact and staying power, people need to be able to relate to them in simple, everyday ways, as opposed to via abstract concepts.
    I think you capture some great examples to illustrate that here.


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