How To Quickly Clarify Your Messaging With And, But, Therefore

“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:

Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his Crown Royal and now Jill is dating some guy from LA.

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.

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