If you’ve got good stats to back up the value of your clean technology product, congratulations.
Quantifying the benefits your product delivers – e.g., pollution reduced, revenue generated, costs lowered, or time saved – can make a big difference to the communities you are trying to engage. Great stats, however, only work when the context is clear. How much is, say, 37 percent? 10 tons? A nanoliter? Compared to what?
To deliver that context and drive home the impact of your numbers, try drawing a simple, concrete analogy. That’s exactly what Reno Contracting of San Diego did a couple of weeks ago with a news release that began…
Reno Contracting has recycled more than 60,000 tons of waste from construction projects since the beginning of 2009, accounting for an average 72% of construction debris diverted from going to a landfill.
Great stats, but did they not get a lot better when the analogy kicked in?
This amount is the equivalent of three football fields, each 100 feet deep.
… and when the analogy was reinforced by this simple graphic?
While 60,000 tons of waste and 72 percent diversion are impressive, they operate on the cerebral level. Football field imagery, coming in the heat of playoffs for the country’s most popular sport, adds emotional impact.
So valuable is emotion that we’re in New England blogging about a West coast construction firm after seeing news that somehow caught the eye of Inhabitat, which gets 100,000 readers a day. Although I have no way of proving it, I think the football fields comparison made all the difference between obscurity and publication by one of the world’s premier green blogs. Okay, two, including us ;).
Ten days later, the Boston Globe rolled out three tangible comparisons in a front page story about coins that went missing in an armored car transfer. The coins weigh 4,317 pounds, equivalent to an average hippopotamus. Stacked, they’d be three times taller than the city’s iconic Hancock Tower. And, in case you hadn’t heard about the NFL championship tournament, the coins weigh more than the starting linemen of the two Super Bowl teams. There were graphics for all three of these analogies. Pounds are abstract. Analogies deliver emotional, or at least sensory, impact.
A client of ours offers up high-impact comparisons like these through their software. The product’s main function is performing forward-looking environmental impact assessments on manufactured goods while they’re still in the design stage. The software measures carbon, energy, air and water impacts of a design, not only in the straight-up metrics you’d expect, but also in their layman’s equivalents, such as:
Energy consumption – hours of TV watching, light bulb burning, laptop operation
Carbon production – miles driven (European car, American car, hybrid)
Air impact – liters of sulfuric acid created, Kg of corn grain produced in the USA, and (my favorite) bags of corn chips produced
Water impact – Deep ponds depleted, shallow ponds depleted, Kg of corn grain produced in the US.
Take your pick. If you can say your clean technology product can do the equivalent of taking 10,000 cars off the road, unscrewing 30,000 light bulbs and preventing 50,000 ponds from drying up, people will listen.
What other effective comparisons have you seen?