How do you articulate the value of what you do to someone else?
When I work with clients, in any industry, one of the first challenges I give them is to explain what they do in a way that is compelling to a client. So far, no one has been able to do it. Isn’t that extraordinary?
What everyone does is talk about themselves – their own processes, their own techniques, their own stories. Basically, they just list a series of facts and hope that those facts will affect the listener:
‘We are a full-service marketing agency…’
‘We produce software…’
‘We started in 1992…’
‘We are the best/earliest/unique…’
The response to all these ‘statements of fact’ is, emotionally, ‘so what?’
One of the core ideas we have to understand (especially those of us who provide a service) is that nobody cares about what we do, they only care about what it can do for them (at least at first).
Value is what people pay for.
Value is what people people, well, value! It’s what excites them. Value is where people can see the connection between what you’re offering and what’s good for them. When you talk in terms of value, people engage more in questions and they ask you for more detail because they know what it means to them.
At its best, when people understand the value of what you do, it can help you to avoid having to respond to endless procurement processes and meetings.
So, how do you do it? How do you express what you do in a way which is compelling and meaningful to others? I’ve already shared my ‘Elevator pitch grid’ in a previous post, and here’s another idea which many of my clients find useful.
This idea is deliberately designed to help you in those moments when you have to convey your value quickly. We live in a world where people’s attention spans are decreasing all the time, and it’s becoming more and more important to be able to grab people’s attention in a few seconds.
For your own business, fill in the missing half of this sentence, changing the words ‘what I do’ to suit your own business or job title:
‘At the heart of (what I do) is a simple idea…’
Challenge yourself. What is the ‘simple idea’ that is at the heart of what you do, and how can you express it in a way which matters to someone else?
The key words are ‘heart’ and ‘simple’. You’re drilling down – what is really at the heart of what I do? How is it simple?
Try a few versions. Most of my clients have needed a few attempts to get it right!
Here’s a bad example from my own business–
When someone asks me what I do, I could easily say:
‘I give seminars, keynotes and courses on presentations, pitching, networking and negotiation’.
But that is all about me – it’s forgettable and bland and, worse, it turns me into a commodity. I’m just ‘yet another trainer’.
Worse, it’s not really WHAT I do, it’s HOW I do what I do, and no one cares about that.
However, I could reply:
‘At the heart of what I do is a simple idea – great communication is the key to business success. Many people in business don’t know how to talk about what they do in a way that brings them new business. I help them do that’.
Notice the difference. There’s nothing about how I do what I do, it’s all focused on the core idea that what I do can help someone else.
Also notice that it would be very unlikely that someone could say ‘So what?’ at the end of that!
Over to you
Try it yourself with these two sample starters:
‘At the heart of (my business) is a simple idea…’
‘I am a (job title). At the heart of (what I do) is a simple idea…’
It’s not perfect!
Does this help you to describe everything that you do quickly? Of course not, but that’s not the point – the point is to be able to describe the core value of what you do to someone else. If you can do that, you’ll usually be given more time to fully explain how you do what you do.
This technique is also useful in many other ways:
‘At the heart of my presentation is a simple idea…’
‘At the heart of this project is a simple idea…’
And so on.
Lastly, try it with your team. You’ll be amazed at how many different (and sometimes competing!) ‘simple ideas’ are at the heart of your business!
Try several versions, I think you’ll find it fascinating. Please send them to me – I’d love to see what you come up with.