Have you ever had the experience of listening to someone telling you in great detail what their business does and yet still feeling that you haven’t got a clue?

Sometimes this happens because people know their own business in such detail that they aren’t able to step back and describe in a really simple way what it does. Or it may be that they struggle to describe it to others because they’re still trying to make some key decisions about exactly what they do and who they want to do that for.

Does any of this sound familiar?

If it does, don’t panic, here are a few things to think about that will help you.

The most effective way to describe your product or service is to create a message that will really appeal to your customer. After all, it’s the customer who buys your product, not you! So my first question is this: how does your product or service benefit the customer? Don’t just think about what it is they buy, think about their reason for buying, and particularly about why they ought to buy from you specifically.

For example, let’s look at a web design company. It should be quite easy for this company to explain what they do: “we design websites”. But so does every other web design company out there, so to the customer you aren’t giving them a message they couldn’t get from any number of other suppliers.

So let’s look at this in more depth. What does the customer gain? And don’t say “a website”! What they ought to gain is a public face or sales outlet for their business; something which helps them become more professional and / or attract new customers. So a good web design company which understands how to more clearly explain what they do might say something along the lines of “we design websites that help companies attract new business”.

Beware of an over-used trap here though. Sometimes people take this a step further and try to become interesting and elusive so that others feel compelled to ask more questions. Like the web designer who, when asked what his business does, replies with something like “we make companies more profitable”. Now some marketing books will tell you this is a great strategy because it makes you different and leaves people keen to know more. Personally, I just find this is an attempt to be all too clever and gives an evasive answer to what was a really straightforward question. So please don’t try & be too smart!

Watch out also for jargon or for over-used words that try to say everything but somehow say nothing. Words like ‘lifestyle’ or ‘solutions-provider’. What do they actually mean?

Finally, if you’re still not sure about how effective your message is, find some people that you trust and ask them for feedback. I did this recently via Facebook for a client who was struggling to find a clear & concise description for his offering and the feedback from my network was really helpful.

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