Do your marketing messages do anything for your business?  Do you go to network meetings and stumble across your words when asked to publicly introduce yourself? I’ve done it. Is your website, flyer or promotional literature a never-ending list of all the services you can provide? Again, I’ve been here.

Do you go on (and on) when someone asks you to explain what exactly you do? Covering everything from where you come from, how long you have been in business, where you are based and a long list of generic, forgettable services?

What’s the one thing you want to say?

If you had the chance, what silver bullet message would you communicate to turn prospects into customers? In other words what’s your 30 second elevator pitch or your business one-liner?

This is a question I ask my clients when trying to work out the best communications strategy for their business.

I usually get lots of answers, not one. Bullet points of well meaning, generic messages that could easily be that of their competitor. Often overly formal, impersonal, sometimes techy. Always needing more work.

I don’t say this lightly, like it’s something that’s easy to do. It’s not.

There are those who might say “if you could say what you do in one line, then it’s not worth doing!!” I take the point, but only concede that OK, it can be two.

If you don’t put out a clear, easy to remember position about your business then someone else will, Chinese whispers style. If you don’t think you have a story, think again, it’s what people say to each other about you. Better to take control and craft the message than leave it to others. Better to be known for one thing that sets you apart.

It’s usually after I meet a client and have a good chat with them about their business, asking some probing questions do I get to the crux of this.

I understand why this happens. I run my own business, and know that business owners are busy running their businesses, fulfilling orders, meeting deadlines to really stop and think about this.

Besides, it’s not exactly easy to get down to the one thing you are really good at doing. It’s hard to say why you are REALLY different from your competitors – who say they do exactly what you do. It can be frustrating when the first answer that comes to mind isn’t the right one. The right summary may not always be immediate and can take a little research to get it right. Sometimes other people who know you well can see it clearer, or your best customers will say why they use you. If it was easy, everyone would nail it. But the reward for those who do it well is getting noticed more. Surfed more. Bought more. Recommended more.

What is marketing all about anyway?

Related to this is the common misunderstanding about what ‘marketing’ actually is. It’s what a lot of people commonly view as advertising. First of all, let’s say what it’s not. It’s not a blunt instrument that tries to talk to everyone, talking to a diverse audience en masse. A common misunderstanding is to think that you are reducing the size of your potential market by appealing to a niche segment, when in fact you are doing the opposite. If you have a service or product that appeals to a certain segment of the market more than others, then focus on that segment. What problems or needs do they have that you can help them with? How can you show them your business is for them? Marketing is knowing the customer and market you operate in, inside-out, and using that knowledge to grow your business. It’s based on the notion that if someone knew the truth of your business, what you’re really good at, they’d want your service or product, they’d want to work with you.

In Summary:

To arrive at your one liner, your tagline, your flyer headline or website home page message – think about a couple of things;

  • Get an outsider opinion about what you are good at. Better again, research it, have your happy customers tell you.
  • Know who you are talking to. Your market is not everybody.  You need to pick an audience your business appeals most to in order to craft the message that will mean something. What does this customer value? What really annoys them? How do they use this product or service? What’s their story? Do you really know? If not, you need to ask them, walk in their shoes.
  • Will your target customer really identify or connect with the problem you are highlighting? Can they see themselves your one liner or homepage message? Would they think, ‘Yea, that’s me, I have that problem!’
  • Are you talking about yourself in your communications more your customer’s problem or need?
  • Start somewhere, you can always refine and improve it. It’s something I’ve done over time.

In summary, if you’ve got 30 seconds, say what the customer needs to hear, i.e. the problem you can help them with. 

Síodhna McGowan – Inspired Thinking – helping SMEs who struggle with their communications by shining a light on what they do best so they can grow their business.