Imagine this: Making bread.
When you ask someone to picture an elaborate process, they usually don't. Like making bread. It's not one definitive thing. It's not a single image appearing in your head and you know exactly what it is and what it does.
A bunch of ingredients. Flour, spices, dough, ovens, breadmakers, kitchen utensils... and all the rest.
It's a process. And a complicated one at that. The actual process isn't necessarily difficult. It's not that hard to make a loaf of bread. It's cheaper than buying it at the store and tastes an infinite times better when fresh out of the oven.
But people don't generally make bread. I think one of the reasons is that while making bread isn't necessarily very challenging, the idea of making bread is psychologically challenging.
Picture A Toaster
Huh. How about them apples. That was easy, wasn't it?
When growing up in my childhood home, we had this broken, white Phillips toaster with Winnie The Pooh stickers on it. I loved it in that same way kids sometimes are delighted by seemingly meaningless and random things.
It used to make the bread fly up out of that thing like little rockets, often clearing the toaster altogether. We used to try and time it exactly so we could catch the slices as they shot up out of it. It was so unpredictable too. Sometimes the bread turned out perfect, and sometimes the toaster spit out these mean pieces of charred death.
So when I say 'picture a toaster' - you probably have a very clear image of what I mean by that. Maybe it's the one currently hanging out on the kitchen table, or an iconic one you remember from your childhood. Or the one you bought when you first got your own place.
Press The Button
But you have a specific image. And you know exactly what it does. It's instantly apparent what it does. Stick a piece of bread in it, press the button.
Compare that to the idea of making bread. Much more difficult.
Here's the lesson: When explaining your ideas to others... whether that's trying to explain mobile phones to your grandparents or clearly articulating your offer in a carefully orchestrated sales presentation... you want to make your thing into as much of a "toaster" as you can.
In a few lines, your audience should have a clear picture in their head of exactly what your thing is and what it does... and most importantly, what it does for them.
A big reason people fail in their marketing is because nobody knows what the hell they're talking about. They think using flowery adjectives will make it sound like they know what they're talking about and that they are worth listening to. But ack! Not so.
Early on in my journey of discovering and learning copywriting, I had my first salesmanship A-Ha! moment after first hearing this:
Clarity beats persuasion
It's not very accurate, as being clear will enhance your chances of also being persuasive... but it gets the point across, which is this: When it comes to explaining things, clarity comes first.
This is also the most important when it comes to journaling. Journaling is all about clear thinking. Figuring things out for yourself, about yourself, from yourself. Nothing matters nearly as much as seeing things as clearly as possible.
When in doubt, get clear.
Finally, I'm not taking credit for the toaster analogy. I first heard it from Dan Kennedy. But it is useful and highly important. And I happen to be sitting here by my kitchen table and the toaster is within arm's reach, and it's right there in my line of sight. So I got inspired to write this in the hopes it would be useful to you.
So think toasters, not making bread. Clarity beats persuasion, and when in doubt, get clear.