Tell me what you do (in a minute or less)!

So tell me, what do you do?

When customers and prospects visit your website, Facebook or other digital properties, do they see a memorable message about  your business and how it helps people or other businesses? In an elevator or at a cocktail party would someone understand your business value proposition in a minute or less?

If “NO” is the answer to both questions, you should consider creating or simplifying your business message or starting from scratch with a message framework.

It sounds easier than it is. Creating one short soundbite explaining what you do and why it matters to your target audience takes time, perspective and a willingness to dig beyond your mission statement and product/service description.

It also requires a kind of objectivity that’s difficult to practice when your business is your baby. The message development process can take hours, days or weeks, depending on your own and your customers’ experiences. My approach is to take it in baby steps; the first three are fact-finding steps.

  • Know Your Audience — pinpoint their problem, and consider all the ways that problem keeps them worried or makes them lose sleep.
  • List all the ways your product/service solves that problem. If you have a long list, put the top three in priority.
  • Describe the most important features that you offer a customer and how those features specifically address that problem.

The final fourth step has more to do with your customer’s feelings or emotions. We all establish personal connections to a business. I choose a neighborhood printer versus going online for my letterhead and business cards because the manager of the Minute Man Press in my town makes me feel important. As a small business owner, that’s a good feeling and one that will keep me coming back.

So once you’ve done all your fact-finding in steps 1, 2 and 3, consider the emotional response from your client when you do business with him/her? Does he feel more secure? Trusting? Smart that he’s spending his money wisely? Protected because you’re watching out for her business?

Navigating this process requires your own review of how you’ve helped customers and the anecdotes they’ve shared about how you made a difference. It’s also best to conduct this messaging process with the help of a third party, someone who can be objective, who doesn’t live and breathe your business, and who can provide a different perspective of your business and your audience. The anecdotes you gather become the supporting points that bolster your message. These “proof points” also serve as conversation-extenders, since prospects want to hear about other customer experiences for a better understanding of how you’ll help them.

So let’s get a conversation started — What do you do?

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