What do you do, exactly?
It seems like such a simple question. If we asked your friends, your family or even some of your customers, could they explain what they do?
- I think his business has something to do with mortgages.
- I think her job is in oil and gas.
- Oh, their business has something to do with fitness, or nutrition….or maybe health?
Fundamentally we are all poor at explaining what we do in a sticky, understandable way. In a way that people go, oh, I get it!
Why are we so poor at explaining our roles and what our business delivers? For a couple of reasons:
- We’re not really proud of what we do, so we downplay it, generalize it and dull it down for people. For example, the tradesman that simply says he’s “in construction’ when he might actually be an absolute craftsman of woodworking and a magician with creating rooms that inspire.
- We use jargon that doesn’t even make sense to us. I met with a gentleman at a networking lunch a few year ago. After 5 attempts and 45 minutes of discussion I still didn’t understand. There are only so many acronyms and industry speak terms you can use before people glaze over (including your clients).
- We think that by using as many big words as possible, it will make what we do sound more impressive. We’ll be able to say “we re-engineer the synergistic alignments of an organization in a way that facilitates greater expansion of the people dynamics” and somehow people will be impressed and want to buy. Nope.
- We don’t really know what we provide. We haven’t thought about it. We think it’s a product when maybe its an experience. We don’t recognize that the reason people don’t get it, is because we don’t know how to explain it either.
So how do you explain exactly what you do to people in a memorable way? Do the opposite of where most people fail:
- Speak about what you do in the simplest of terms. We bake bread.
- Speak about it as if you were the best in the world. We bake incredible breads that you can’t find anywhere else.
- Make it personal. We make people’s days better by sharing incredible baked breads you can’t find anywhere else. A good piece of bread can make your whole day.
- Tell people proudly. Stop looking at your feet. Stop mumbling. Look me in the eye and tell me directly in simple language.
- Use words that are 5 letters or less. It’s a guideline, but it keeps you from using words like introneurotransmission, and losing your audience.
- Start telling people everywhere. On your business card. On LinkedIn. At every meeting. With every client. Take the simple sentence that describes what you do and share it daily with the world.
People want to know how to grow their business. We say get clear on your business. Start by understanding what you do first. Then master how you explain it to people.
This simple explanation of what you do opens doors. You may be thinking, but when do I get to demonstrate all my smarts and the unbelievable complexity of our business? After you hit the audience with your simply explanation, it will generate understanding. Understanding quickly becomes interest, with your target audience. Then you can always show your complexity and knowledge as the conversation (and maybe sale) progresses. But if you don’t gain their understanding first, no level of complexity or detail is going to make it effective.
The best test for this is giving your explanation to your mother, or your great aunt, or your 8-year-old niece. If they seem to get excited, have that ah-ha moment and say, oh I see! – then you’re market ready.
The next question to ask is, does everyone else I work with have a similar understanding and explanation for what we do? This idea of a crystal clear “what we do” statement needs to be universal in any organization for it to thrive.