“And, But, Therefore” (or ABT) is an easy-to-use storytelling trick to help us quickly clarify our messaging. Here’s an example of how it works from Crown Royal:
Nursery rhymes are full of great examples of the ABT framework in practice. “And” starts us with an agreement or relatable situation. “But” presents a problem and often adds a twist. “Therefore” resolves the problem and brings us to a conclusion.
You can think of it as a three-act story structure with a beginning, middle, and end. By using an and, but, and therefore statement (explicitly or subliminally), we force ourselves to make our point in a recognizable structure. Here’s the Crown Royal ad again with the ABT highlighted so we can see it:
Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water (And – they’re fetching the pale of water, critically doing it together). Jack fell down and broke his Crown Royal (But – the problem presents itself, here with the added twist of the brand thrown in) and now Jill is dating some guy from LA (Therefore – our story’s surprise ending, veering off of the nursery rhyme we all know so well for a laugh).
Give it a shot for yourself. Think about what you do and plug it into the ABT format like it’s an outline. It could be your mission statement, a value prop for prospective clients, or even a point you want to make to your kids. Clear is kind and stories cut through noise like nothing else.
If you end up with a good and, but, therefore – send me an email. I’d love to to read it. You’ll get additional bonus points if you have a “before ABT was applied” and “after.”
I learned ABT specifically from Park Howell. Listen to his interview with Christopher Lochhead on the Lochhead on Marketing podcast.
Also – pair this post with the slightly more involved “Your Sales Story Needs A Problem, Solution, Resolution” framework.