How to Effectively Use Metaphors in Copywriting

How to Effectively Use Metaphors in Copywriting

Metaphors in copywriting are one great way to improve sales and conversion. Good copywriters use metaphors to infuse their copy with emotional imagery that will entice customers to buy.

The Power of Metaphors in Copywriting

Metaphors are shortcuts. They can reduce complex concepts to a single image the audience can understand. They also have the added benefit of amplifying the emotional impact of the object or experience you’re describing by tapping into the customer’s pre-existing emotions.

It connects with the reader, eliciting emotions and shaping their thoughts about the product. Metaphors are appealing because they are a double whammy. They capture your attention with the emotional and visual right brain while making sense of things with the logical left brain.

So, What Are Metaphors?

A metaphor is a word or phrase that means one thing but serves to represent another. A simile describes an object or experience as simply ‘like’ something else, whereas a metaphor implies that it is so similar that it ‘is’ something else.

This is extremely useful for describing or reframing a product.

So Shakespeare could have said that the world was ‘like a stage’ if he thought a simile would suffice. Instead, he stated that it is a stage, allowing him to continue with ‘And all the men and women are merely players’ and so on.

The Importance of Metaphors in Copywriting

Humans tend to forget their experiences quickly, regardless of how memorable they are.

But what if something profoundly affects your subconscious?

If your conscious mind is a river, imagine your subconscious as an ocean. It is more powerful than most of us realize and can generate strong impulses.

Your subconscious mind actively gathers information from your surroundings to help form an opinion about things you see or events you attend.

Unlike your conscious mind, which prefers logical or analytical information, your subconscious mind is good at processing various types of data, such as visuals, metaphors, and symbols, to generate ideas or drive specific actions.

This is why metaphors are so important in copywriting.

When you use metaphors in your copy, you are communicating in a language that the subconscious mind understands best. It allows you to tap into your target audience’s psyche and convey a message with greater depth and emotional impact.

Metaphors allow you to imprint your thoughts or ideas deep within an individual’s mind and send impulses to areas of the human brain that are typically out of reach.

Simply put, metaphor-infused copy has a higher subconscious appeal and is more likely to persuade your target audience to take action.

Now, When Should You Use Metaphors in Your Copy?

The key to using metaphors in copywriting is to make them meaningful. Use them when you need them the most, such as when communicating complex information or overcoming an objection.

Or to make a product seem like a ‘must-have’. Use sparingly and avoid wasting them.

How to Use Metaphors in Copywriting

Metaphors (or similes) allow us to compare one thing to another. We do this to explain it, understand it, or simply to make our language more vibrant.

1. Use Relevant Metaphors

The first rule of using metaphors in copywriting is to ensure that they are appropriate for your topic, audience, and purpose. A metaphor that works in one niche, market, or situation may not work in another.

For example, if you’re writing about fitness, you could use metaphors from sports, health, or strength.

However, if you are writing about gardening, you may use metaphors related to nature, growth, or beauty.

The key is to select metaphors that will connect with your readers and support your message.

2. Use Fresh and Original Metaphors

The second rule of using metaphors in copywriting is to stay away from clichés and overused phrases. Metaphors lose their impact and significance when they become overly familiar or predictable.

For example, saying something is “a piece of cake” or “a drop in the ocean” is unlikely to impress or persuade your readers.

Instead, try to come up with new and unique metaphors to surprise and delight your readers.

For example, you could state that something is “as simple as breathing” or “a splash of color in a gray world.”

3. Mix Metaphors with Other Figures of Speech

The third rule for using metaphors in copywriting is to combine them with other figures of speech like similes, analogies, personification, or hyperbole.

This can help you increase the variety, contrast, and emphasis in your copywriting.

For example, you could use a simile with “like” or “as” to compare two things, such as “your product is like a breath of fresh air”.

You could use a familiar example to explain a concept, such as “your service is like Netflix for books”.

Personification can be used to give human qualities to an object or idea, for example, “your website is your best friend”.

For effect, you could use hyperbole to exaggerate or understate something, such as “your offer is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.

4. Make Your Metaphors Easy to Understand

The fourth rule of using metaphors in copywriting is to make them easy to understand. Metaphors can improve your copywriting, but they can also confuse or distract your readers if used excessively or ambiguously.

For example, if you use too many metaphors in a row, your readers may lose interest or wonder what you are trying to convey.

If you use metaphors that are too obscure or abstract, your readers may struggle to understand your point.

The key is to use metaphors sparingly and strategically, while also ensuring that they are clear and relevant to your main message.

5. Test and Optimize Your Metaphors

The fifth rule of using metaphors in copywriting is to experiment with them until you find the ones that work best.

Metaphors are not universal; what works for one copywriter, audience, or product may not work for another. As a result, you must experiment with various metaphors and assess how they affect your copywriting performance.

A/B testing, feedback, and analytics can all be used to assess the impact of your metaphors on your readers’ engagement, conversion, or retention.

You can also use intuition and creativity to improve the effectiveness of your metaphors.

6. Learn from Others

The sixth rule of using metaphors in copywriting is to learn from the masters. There are many examples of great copywriters who use metaphors brilliantly to make their writing more memorable.

You can learn from David Ogilvy, who used metaphors like “the Rolls-Royce of refrigerators” or “the ultimate driving machine” to sell his products.

Gary Halbert, for example, used metaphors like “the lazy man’s way to riches” or “the most valuable secret in the world” to sell information.

Joanna Wiebe, for example, used metaphors like “the Swiss Army knife of copywriting tools” and “the secret sauce of conversion copywriting” to sell services.

Where to Find the Perfect Metaphors to Use

Proverbs and sayings, maxims, mottos, aphorisms, fairytales, Bible stories, and the plots of famous films are all excellent sources for finding the perfect metaphor to improve your copywriting.

They must be instantly recognizable, so the ones you know by heart are ideal. These are also the most emotionally charged and useful to copywriters.

Metaphors require careful crafting to work effectively, but they have the power to improve conversion rates like almost no other copywriting weapon in the world.

Examples of Metaphors in Copywriting

To help you better understand how metaphors in copywriting are used, here are some examples of their effective use.

1. Charmin

Charmin is a leading toilet paper manufacturer in the United States. Procter & Gamble, the industry giant, owns the brand, which is known for its witty copy and creative ways of engaging its target audience.

The image below was taken from Charmin’s official Instagram account and contains a highly memorable copy.

Promoting mundane products like toilet paper can be extremely difficult. However, Charmin’s copywriters are masters of using metaphors and analogies. They came up with the brilliant idea of using a Valentine’s Day theme and writing humor-infused copy to capture the audience’s attention.

As a result, they developed a clear message that not only emphasizes the product’s capabilities but also generates strong recall.

Charmin metaphor in copywriting example social media post

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2. KFC

This example comes from KFC, the world’s second-largest restaurant chain, with franchises all over the world.

The image below is an excellent example of a metaphor in action, as they promote their chicken bucket by using a Halloween basket as a reference.

The overall copy is excellent, but the second pointer, in which they suggest that the KFC bucket would be an excellent match for a Colonel costume, is particularly strong.

Even if you don’t plan to dress as Colonel Sanders for Halloween, the copy is powerful enough to evoke strong memories and make you crave KFC every time you see someone dressed as Colonel Sanders.

funny KFC instagram halloween post

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3. Burger King

Finally, Burger King – an American multinational fast-food chain.

The image below is from Burger King’s official Instagram page, where the campaign targets people with and without fitness goals.

The concept of six packs representing a box of nuggets hits differently. The campaign targets fitness enthusiasts who occasionally crave junk food as well as people who simply enjoy eating.

The copy is well-written, humorous, and appealing. It can generate a decent recall. Furthermore, it kills two birds with one stone.

burger king six pack nugget metaphor

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Conclusion

When writing copy, capturing the attention of your target audience can be difficult because every player in your industry is trying to get noticed. As a result, prospects are always bombarded with similar ads.

As a result, you must find unique ways to engage your audience and convey a message that is worth their time.

In this case, metaphors can come in handy. Metaphors in copywriting allow you to discuss complex concepts and promote solutions without annoying your audience with repeated or monotonous messages.

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Maku Seun is a freelance copywriter and direct response marketer. He helps digital marketers, coaches, and course creators boost sales by writing compelling sales copy which includes long-form sales letters, email copy, and website copy for their products and services. If you want him to write compelling sales copy for your business, click here.