Who Are You and Why Should I Care?
The elevator pitch is so overused, it’s become a cliche to most business people. But, cliches usually become that way for a reason: they’re just so naturally true.
In case you’ve somehow never read a business book, seen Sharktank or gone to a networking event; an elevator pitch is how you would describe your product, yourself or your business to a key executive if you only had 30 seconds in an elevator with her.
Hollywood writers and agents are famous for pitching new movies and shows this way. They use previously successful movies to position new ideas. They’ll say things like “It’s Titantic meets Star Wars” or “It’s Friday the Thirteenth for Generation Y.” People want to surmise new ideas into powerful and familiar references.
The problem most entrepreneurs I meet suffer from is an over familiarity with their business. In other words, they know so many reasons why you should do business with them, they can’t present their business with a singular clear and compelling message. Even worse, most don’t understand why this is imperative to their success.
Your business needs a clear and compelling message.
Every small business needs a clear and compelling reason that a potential customer should do business with you. That’s not to say every person should do business with you, but everyone should be able to determine what you do and who is a good customer for you based on your message. In fact, if you really do have a good position in the marketplace, then it will be clear that you’re not trying to be everything to everyone. Many business owners will find this counterintuitive, but the truth is, the world is a huge place, and no business is right for everyone.
Let’s say you’re an architect. What kind of work do you do best? Do you design smart and efficient work spaces for fast growing companies, or do you build rich, traditional and signature offices for established firms. Each of these messages will appeal to an equally important, but very different customer. You can also see how these messages will cut through a crowded marketplace and attract the right customer, while filtering out the wrong customers for your business.
As someone shopping for a commercial architect, I want to know what you do and who you do it for. Tell me that you’re “a miami-based design firm with experience designing over 100 smart workplaces for fast-growing companies since 1995.” Just as well if you “design and build signature office environments for uncompromising clients with a focus on the legal and financial industries.” I will know immediately who to inquire with about my upcoming project.
While those are both clear and compelling, it’s worth pointing out that the sky is the limit here. Imagine if you were a firm that “creates remarkable urban retail space with 100% carbon neutral practices.” There may only be a handful of companies who require those services, but they would beat a path to your door.
Why you need a clear and compelling message.
Every day you will run into new people who are unfamiliar with what your business does. This includes potential new employees, new customers, the media and even potential networking partners. With or without you, they will end up with a tidy perspective on your business. It’s your job to shape the way the world sees your business, and a clear and compelling up front value proposition is how you do that. It should be known by you, your staff, your partners and anyone who markets your business.
When your message is sharpened (with clarity) it cuts through the noise of choice that we experience every day. If it is dull, it just blends in and potential customers overlook you for competitors with more compelling messages.
The good and bad news is that it is easier than ever to spread your message because of the Internet. It’s bad news that there is so much noise out there you have to compete with. The good news is that you have a better chance to connect with your customer and get your compelling message in front of them, no matter where they are.
Attention is precious in marketing. Attention is someone seeing your ad, someone hearing about your business, the first thirty seconds someone walks into your store or the first time someone lands on your website. Don’t waste this precious opportunity with vagueness and generality (all noise). Tell them exactly who you are and why they should care.
What a clear and compelling message looks like.
It’s pretty simple to define clear and compelling:
Is it Clear? Do I know I what you do without requiring a lot of clarification?
Is it Compelling? Is it worth noticing.
If you don’t think there is anything compelling about your business, you’ve got problems above the scope of this article. More than likely, it’s the clear part that can use some work.
You need to find the one reason people should care, rather than a list of reasons that you think add up to value. This is not all the reasons they should choose you, you’ll have the opportunity to share those as well—but only if your initial message wins you more attention.
For example, Ikea is known for a lot of things, but at the end of the day, they are Scandinavian, modern-style furniture and accessories at unbelievable prices. Their customers know this, and they spread the message for them. Papa Johns has better ingredients, and their customers believe this results in a better pizza.
Both of those companies know who they are, and they live up to their positioning. Not surprisingly, both have enjoyed monster growth over several decades.
At Juicy Results, when we are learning about our clients businesses and products, we’re digging for their clear and compelling message, because it is central to the marketing campaigns we design for them. While building a website, we focus the site on delivering and supporting that same message.
Often, at the end of the day, we need to help our clients crystallize that positioning. They are already delivering the value, but an outside party can help you package that value in a way that is clear and meaningful to your customer. This is the heart of all marketing work, and it is imperative to your success in attracting new customers to your business.
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
– Albert Einstein