So, you’re sitting on a plane, anxiously awaiting takeoff. There is a fella sitting in the seat next to you making friendly conversation. You are both traveling on business. He asks, “What do you do?”
How do you respond? One of three things is about to happen:
You will use one sentence to clearly explain your business in a way that leaves the other passenger with a tangible understanding that prompts additional questions and conversation.
You will try to explain what you do in a concise manner. Of course, prefaced by
“It’s complicated, but...” or “Its hard to explain, but the quick version is” followed by your [insert jargon descriptor + title] at [company name], which provides [insert jargon descriptor + solutions] to the [industry name].
Oh my, excuse me.
You will launch into a lengthy and detailed description of what your company does, the technology behind it, how it is deployed using 90% jargon and 10% real words until you happen to notice that your fellow passenger is snoring, drooling and leaning on your shoulder.
Scenario three isn’t going to happen because well, you know better. Plus, you have work to do and don’t want to jabber on the entire flight, anyway. Obviously, the best case is scenario one, but so many times (soooo many times!) companies fall into the trap of scenario two in an attempt to execute on scenario one.
The ability to articulate your business in one clear and concise sentence is dependent on your ability to take the complex, complicated nature of what you do and turn it into a simple statement that proclaims who you are, what you do and for whom you do what you do.
Should be pretty simple, right? Truth is, this can be a bit of a challenge. The technology/solution/breakthrough that you provide is shaking up the market (or about to) for a reason. It’s neither easy nor obvious. However, if people don’t have a clear and basic understanding of what you do, you are missing opportunities to sell to them, collaborate with them, partner with them or network with them. This is the most fundamental ways to open doors for yourself.
Additionally, this is an important foundational piece to get right. In order to successfully execute your branding and inbound marketing initiatives, you need to understand how to break down the complexity of what you do in a way that allows potential customers to connect with you and realize the value in what you provide.
So, here are a few tips on how to break through the complexity and come up with a clear explanation of what you bring to the party. The purpose of this exercise is to be able to clearly articulate who you are, what you do (what you solve) and who you serve. Getting this right now will help you as you move forward with future branding, inbound marketing and other strategic marketing initiatives.
Get to the heart of what you really do.
Think about what you do, and then what you really do. Think about your customer. What are you really solving for them? How are you making their lives easier or better? For instance, at Mixy, we do inbound marketing, but what we really do (the result of our efforts) is help our customers grow their businesses, which is at the end of the day what they really care about. What is the result experienced by our customers when we solve their problem (save money, protect from loss, increase revenue, make their lives easier, make them look like a rockstar in their jobs)?
Identify the problem that your customers are facing.
What kind of pain does your customer experience without you? Why do they need you? What happens if they don’t have you and your product/solutions/services to rely on? The point of this exercise is to clearly understand the mindset and conditions that your prospects are experiencing when (or just before) they decide to learn more about you. Aligning your strategy with the precise needs of your customers will help you build a strong connection from the start.
Who is your target customer, really?
Really. Don’t say everyone. Resist the urge. Specifically, who is (are) your target(s)? Many companies make the mistake of trying to be everything to everyone, falling into the mindset that defining their target customer will limit their potential for growth. It turns out the that opposite is true. Be specific about who (job titles) in an organization (what kind of organization) and an industry (which industry) you are targeting. Then, align your messaging to the needs and preferred styles of these groups.
How are we different from our competition?
What sets you apart? What makes you better? Why would your target customer be frustrated or limited by your competition and what do you provide that is different? In other words, why choose you and your business?
Finally, don’t forget to follow these best practices...
- Embrace brevity. Keep it short and sweet. Say just enough to make your point. Nothing more, nothing less.
- Roll it off of the tongue. Make sure your sentence flows in a way that that doesn’t sound rehearsed.
- Avoid jargon. By avoid, I mean, run like hell. Use real words. People just aren’t going to get excited about your strategizing, optimizing, synthesizing, etc. Jargon never makes a lasting impact. It just doesn’t.
What do you think? Share some of your own tips to break down the complexity and clearly explain your business in the comments below.