"So, What do you do?" "Erm..."

How to describe what you sell

Are you passing up the chance to captivate customers?

Ever landed on a web page and wondered what the business does?

Or met someone at a networking event who takes ten minutes of your life and leaves you none the wiser?

With so many people vying for our attention, messages that aren’t clear, interesting and succinct just get lost in the noise.

If you can’t say what you do in nine words, forget it.

Why nine words?

I don’t know, could be eight or six or eleven – definitely not more than 12 though.

The idea is to get it down to a succinct compelling sentence that is easy to understand and remember.

Don’t take more than 20 seconds – that’s how long most people will listen before they start to switch off. 

These are the places where your words really must work hard for you.

1) The meta-description on your website’s home page – this is the phrase that the search engines display whenever your site comes up in someone’s search results. This phrase helps people to decide whether to visit your site. Open your website and hover over the tab in your browser – do you see a compelling description of your business? If not, have a word with your website developer.

2) When you ’re answering that question about what you do, knowing who you’re talking to is a big advantage. Try asking some questions of your own first so that you can tell them something that might interest them rather than just spouting a standard spiel. Your words must help people to decide if you have something that they want.

3) If I visit your website, is it easy for me to work out what you do, who you do it for and why anyone would buy anything from you? Some designers are so keen on the minimalist look they forget to state the obvious.

4) Try never to give that awful one-minute elevator speech at a networking meeting.  That is often a cue for your audience to switch off because they’ll know they’ve heard it all before. Say something oroginal and unexpected – it might not be ablut what you do but at least people will remember you and talk to you afterwards. If you don’t think you’re interesting enough this post might help.

What can you do to make your words count?

Tune in to your ideal customers interests and concerns.
When you plan the words you say and write about your business, your statements must:
Be relevant to your audience
This means you must have a clear idea of the people who are in your target market, what problem you solve for them or what delight you offer. People need to feel you’re speaking directly to them.
Be interesting and entertaining
In a world of vanilla carbon copies a little individuality pays off. Something that brings a smile to the face of the listener or reader will score you lots of points. People who think well of you will progress more quickly to doing business with you. Work hard on the entertainment issue.
Be memorable
If you can be both relevant and entertaining you’re more likely to be memorable. Being memorable is about speaking to the interests and concerns of your audience.
Be concise
Everybody is busy so recognising this and saying what you’ve got to say as succinctly as possible is vital. Keeping someone’s attention for any length of time is hard  unless you give them a good reason for staying.

If you can meet that challenge, then you’ll be well on the way to becoming a nine word wonder.

Got nine words that say what you do?  Send me an email – I’d love to see them! 

4 replies
  1. Sarah
    Sarah says:

    I make women happy by selling gorgeous comfortable shoes!!

  2. Mike Garrick Green
    Mike Garrick Green says:

    I help people achieve; through intuitive, efficient websites and connected software.

  3. Ann Hawkins
    Ann Hawkins says:

    That reminds me of the Zig Ziglar saying “the best way to achieve your goals is to help other people to achieve theirs” (not exactly his words but similar). Great stuff Mike.

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