How to Explain a Complex Product or Service (so people easily understand)

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networking elevator pitch

One of the biggest reasons why people aren't getting attention for their brand, product, or service is that people don't understand why they should care. If you're pitching a reporter (or a potential customer), and you see their eyes gloss over, pay attention to the rest of this post.

Because there's an easy solution.


If you're pitching a reporter (or a potential new customer), and you're using jargon or industry language, people will mentally shut down. Even if you have the best stuff, or you're the smartest person around, and they NEED what you're offering... no one will care, or should care, if they don't understand it. And you want them to 'get it' immediately so they'll want to listen to what you have to say.

Here’s a little technique called the Anchor and Twist that’s used in marketing a lot. It’s been used in practice going way back, but I think the Heath Brothers actually coined this particular term to define it.  

Anchoring is just comparing it to something that’s already well-known. Something doesn’t have to ‘be’ something else, but it can be ‘like’ something else, and used in comparison.

And the Twist refers to how it’s different, or your new angle.

A perfect example was in the Comedy Central Roast of Rob Lowe (that I hope everyone watched because it was hilarious!) when Nikki Glaser said that Peyton Manning was “like the Tom Brady of being in Commercials.”  Haha (I don’t follow football at all, but even I understood that one.)

Or, Netfix is like a library for movies.  We all know what Netflix is now, but when it first came out, that description helped them a lot.

And here's a great example from the peeps at AppSumo that I saw today in a facebook ad. Makes perfect sense! 

Appsumo software deals

AppSumo is the Groupon for Entrepreneurs.

Get the idea?

The basic formula for the Anchor and Twist is:

{THIS PRODUCT} is like {ANOTHER PRODUCT] for [THIS RESULT].

So, basically, you’re riding the coattails of the hard work of another product or service. But you do want to make sure that whatever you’re comparing yourself to is something positive and well-liked, not just something that is well-known.

By comparing yourself to something else, you’re making it easier for people to mentally catalog, and compartmentalize,  making it easier for them to understand.

What other brands do you know that use this technique?  Or can you use Anchor and Twist about your own brand? Or in your Elevator Pitch?  Let me know in the comments below.

About the Author Melanie Downey

I'm Melanie Downey, small business brand innovator and public relations expert. I like to teach and write about what I've learned in 20 years working in brand development, PR, and marketing. And when I'm not doing that, I cook, drive my kids around, hang out with my hairless dog, Penny, and practice playing my ukulele.

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