Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Define Your Business in Three Steps

The successful business owner owes many a good idea to networking events and seminars. At a recent breakfast sponsored by my Chamber of Commerce, the speaker suggested the following useful hint for summarizing your business to interested parties: Develop your elevator speech around three key questions. The idea can easily be adapted to written materials, from your Web site's home page to your new sales letter.

Key Question #1: What is your Unique Selling Point, the distinct characteristic that makes your business stand out among the competition? Characteristics that every business in your field epitomizes (or should!) don't count; always delivering orders on schedule is commendable, but it'll hardly earn you special recognition from the news media. On the other hand, both Domino's Pizza and FedEx built successful USPs around unconditional guarantees of delivery within specific time limits. Be as specific as possible in choosing what point you should emphasize. What do your customers compliment you for? (Take special note of any comparisons to your competitors.) If you've won any awards or been featured in any news stories, what qualities of your business did they focus on?

Example: Want blogs and brochures with genuine interest value to potential clients? Spread the Word Commercial Writing knows what the general public likes to read; we bring combined experience of over 10 years writing articles for business and popular periodicals.

Key Question #2: Who is your ideal client? Saying "anybody" will get you fewer, not more, referrals; people need specific images to focus on. Think demographics: what do your current customers have in common in terms of age or income bracket? Gender or ethnicity? Family situation? If you offer business-to-business products or services, what are your top three preferred industries? What is the typical size/revenues range of companies likely to hire you? What is your ideal client's typical business mission?

Example: Spread the Word offers its services to businesses and organizations that are dedicated to helping people out of depression and discouragement.

Key Question #3: What specific needs do your products/services fill? Never forget the "find a need and fill it" principle! Customers don't come to your boutique because you won a designer award; they come because the clothes you sell suit their perceived needs. If you have trouble being specific here, consider taking a customer survey; you might even find an opportunity to subsequently emphasize a need you're now filling for the first time. (And to start filling it before some competitor uses it to lure your customers away!)

Example: When you use Spread the Word's writing services, your brochures will no longer be tossed as “junk mail” [filling the need to offer something people will save--thus keeping your name before them--and also the need to send the subconscious message, "My company is valuable"].

Answering these three key questions to the public's satisfaction can bring you more and better clients; garner more and better referrals; and help you clarify your business's focus. Please share your answers in the Comments section!

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