“We know what we’re doing – we just don’t know how to frame it”

It’s the difference between ‘do what needs to be done’ and ‘Just Do It’. The difference between ‘the dating service for swingers’ and ‘Life’s short. Have an affair’.

I go to networking events. (Business networking events). And I always ask people what their business does. Often people’s faces contort as they try to explain it succinctly. Messaging is part of my skill set and I’ve had a couple of experiences recently where I’ve said ‘it sounds like you do X’ and they’ve responded, ‘do you mind if I write that down?’

So in case the headline speaks to you, and in the interest of doing myself out of work, here is a guide on how to say what you do.

1/ If there was ONE company that was obviously, definitely going to use your product or service, what is the profile of that company? Use that to frame your offering.

Example: we make easily customisable, modular ERP software that is way cheaper and more flexible than (*chooses random example) SAP. See, that is NOT a good way to describe your product. Why? Because immediately the listener has to work out what customisable, modular software is. They have to know what an ERP is. And SAP. So let’s answer the question. The one company would be a small – medium sized business which is reluctantly using spreadsheets to run important parts of its operations. The framing might end up like this: we replace spreadsheets with industrial strength software.

2/ What is the ONE thing that’s different about your product/service to the whole universe of competitive offerings? Use that.

Example: we provide document management software and our system extends into content management with rigorous documentation procedures. You don’t want your customer to have to work out how document management differs from content management so you wouldn’t frame it like that. You want it to sound like a solution, not a puzzle. If your system is designed to work well in a local government situation, zero in on that. ‘We create content management systems that do compliance for local government’.

‘Really? Here’s my card. Come and do a demo.’

3/ Do not try to say everything. That’s not a frame.

Startups are shocking for this: they want to describe all the features and applications of their technology. Don’t do it. Here’s the test. Can the person say it back to you? If they can’t do it accurately you haven’t got it right.

And getting it right is important. All the people in your business should be able to say what it is you do in the same way. It’s clarity of purpose. Hope that helps.

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