Do you struggle to tell people what your business does? Does your blog and website make it clear? How can you hone your business message?
I hate it when I’m out socially and someone asks me what I do. I tend to mumble and say ‘aww it’s boring‘.
I think part of me is scared that if I start talking about my work, which I love, I’ll never stop. I’ll take a breath after a while, look at the person I’ve been talking to, notice the dead look in their eyes and realise that I’ve bored them to tears.
I sometimes envy people with jobs who can say quite quickly and easily what they do and move on.
Of course, telling people I meet socially is the least of my problems. Some of those people may be potential customers or know people who are but not many. It’s worse when I stumble at a networking meeting or when I’m face to face with someone that I can actually help.
I know I’m not alone. I meet business owners all the time that struggle with their message.
How to tell people what you do
As small business owners we tend to want lots of work. We grab anything that comes our way. We haven’t refined our message as we haven’t really thought about narrowing our focus. We haven’t thought about how we can become specialists who are really good at what we do.
I remember watching one of those television programmes where someone goes into a business and fixes it a few years ago.
I think it was ‘Mary Portas – Queen Of Shops. If you’ve not heard of Mary, she helps retailers market their businesses. Her no-nonsense personality makes the show entertaining.
In the episode she was helping a boutique. But the boutique had too much stock. Amongst the fancy dresses, she found a lot of cheapo looking dressing gowns:
‘Why have you got those’ she asked
‘Well, there’s a hospital down the road and people kept coming in asking for dressing gowns so we got some’
That shopkeeper had done what a lot of us do, she’d found out random people, not necessarily her customers, wanted something so she started selling it.
She hadn’t thought about how the cheapo dressing gowns affected her brand. How the high-end dress buyer was going to be put off by the piles of cheap looking clothes in her store.
She’s a typical example of a business that hadn’t really thought about what they do. She could either be:
‘A boutique offering stylish quality clothing to middle aged women’
‘A thrift shop offering everything you need for your hospital visit’
It doesn’t matter which she chose but she could only be one. Trying to be both diluted her message.
Let’s keep our dress retailer in mind for this post and we’ll call her Charlotte.
Defining our message with blogging
Being able to define what we do is good for our online marketing and blog too. If you don’t specialise you’ll find yourself writing random posts related to your business instead of focussing in on the ones that deliver the best value to your ideal customer, the ones who will pay you the best money to do a good job.
Charlotte could expand awareness of her business by blogging. If she knows who she’s targeting she could write about:
- The styles of the season
- How to put a look together for a local event
- What to wear to a wedding
- News about the local area
- What to pack for a hospital stay
- The best gifts for hospital visits
- News stories about the local hospital
- Places to get breakfast near the local hospital
- And those are just ideas off the top of my head.
If those two topics are mixed up in one blog it becomes confusing. Can you imagine if you landed on your favourite digital marketing blog one day only to see fashion tips?
What do people think you do?
If you are already in business the first step to defining what you do is to ask people.
Ask your community, your customers your friends to look at your website and blog and tell you what they think you do. Make it clear that you think your message might be muddled and you need them to be honest with their responses.
Brace yourself, you might be surprised by their answers.
Now you have some sort of idea about what people will think when they arrive on your site it’s time to fix it.
Charlotte cleared all the dressing gowns out of her store and went high end with her product range. She turned her boutique into an exclusive shop.
Now she can blog consistently, and on topic content for the people she is targeting with her range.
Know your customers
To chose the right clothing ranges Charlotte had to know who her customers were and what they wanted.
If you know who you want to buy from you marketing becomes a lot easier. It will help you with your business, your blogging and it will help you chose the social networks you spend your time on.
Charlotte was able to choose clothes for her shop that suited the women she wanted to walk in the door. They were big spenders so she didn’t need to sell the cheap dressing gowns just to put money in the till.
What do you enjoy doing?
We all chose to go into business, to abandon the 9-5 lifestyle in pursuit of something else. It could be freedom, flexible hours, ambition, wealth or something else. Whatever that mission is, we owe it to ourselves to be true to it.
The last thing we need is to be stuck running a business we hate, that makes the day drag, that is less enjoyable than having a job.
Take a look at your business and pick the bits you enjoy the most. The parts of your job that excite you and make you happy. The things you could do all day long and still be contented.
If you make these parts of your business the focus you’ll continue to be excited by your job and you’ll keep striving to deliver a good product or service.
Charlotte opened a boutique because she loved fashion. She didn’t love granny style dressing gowns. Somewhere along the line she’d forgotten about that.
We also need to think about the money
What parts of your business bring you the best income. I’m rubbish at this. I’d quite happily do my job for free if I didn’t have to eat and keep my cats happy.
That doesn’t mean I work for free, I’m not even cheap. I do need to make money. There’s no point me working unless I can pay my bills and keep my cats in tins of food. The customers that I get are the ones that value my services and keep me challenged and happy.
There’s always a part of me that thinks I’d love to just sit at home and write blog posts but in reality I get a kick out of training, presenting, speaking and working with businesses that grow as a result.
It’s those jobs that bring me the money and massage my ego enough to keep me striving to be better.
Charlotte kept her till ringing by focussing on high-end customers who appreciated quality fashion. She’d have to sell hundreds of cheap dressing gowns for the price of one decent outfit.
Do you have a USP (Unique Selling Proposition)?
This is always a tough one. How can you be different when there are so many people doing what you do?
It’s easy to say that your point of difference is ‘good customer service’ or ‘we’ve been in business 100 years’. But lots of people can claim the same.
If those are your USP’s you need to go all in. What do I mean by that?
You can’t be the only one with ‘good customer service’, no one is going to claim they have bad customer service. You need to have the best customer service.
If customer service is going to be your USP you need to look at ways you can prove it.
I’m sure you’ve heard stories about US department store Nordstrom who once refunded a customer for a set of tires even though they didn’t sell tires. Their mantra is that the customer is always right.
Nordstrom’s USP could quite rightly be ‘the best customer service’.
That’s the standard you need to aim for. Is your customer service so good you could become famous for it? Will customers tell stories about the wonderful things you’ve done for them?
When you settle on a USP you need to align your entire business with it. Your content, your staff, your culture your attitude. Only then is it bordering on unique.
If that sounds a bit too much aim for try something else. Do you have a system, a specific way or working that helps you spread your message?
If you are a marketer do you have a process that you take customers through that makes your consultancy different?
If you are a printer do you focus on price or graphic design? Can you turn your design into a process where you bring the customer along with you.?
Is Charlotte the only clothing store in her town that offers personal shopping?
Once you know your USP prove it with your content.
On your blog you can share:
- Case studies
Create themes and categories for your blog revolving around the topics you specialise in.
- What stories can you tell relating to your specialities
- What posts can you write that are helpful to your target market
If the personal touch is important to you make a video, record a podcast use live streaming.
All of your content should feed into your core products and the reasons people should come to you specifically for them.
Now grab a pen, pencil or device and jot down
- What your core products and services are
- Who your ideal customers are
- How you are different
- What content you can create to prove you are different
On your website
- Make sure your home page tells people exactly what you do
- Make sure your about page tells people how you can help them
Now show your site to an honest friend again and cross your fingers.
If you got it right they’ll be able to tell you what you do.
If you didn’t you need to start the process again.
Now back to that social occasion. You meet someone and they ask you what you do. What do you say?
You need to be able to tell them in less than a minute and you need to keep them interested.
Stand in front of your webcam, or put the selfie mode on your phone and practice. Do it over and over until you’ve got it right.
If you are up for a challenge here’s what I want you to do:
- Decide on an ideal customer
- Choose the products or services you can offer them that you will enjoy delivering
- Define or create a USP
- Plan your blog content around your core products and your USP