Drill down to the core
Drilling down to the essence of what your business is about – in terms of the benefits you offer customers and the value you can add – is a fundamental step towards business success. Do this well and you will have the key messages for all your communications.
Whether it’s content for your website, an ad in a local paper, or even applying for a loan for your business, you need to be absolutely clear about what it is your business offers, what the benefits are, and how these differ from other similar products or services on the market.
Think of your business as a brand
While many small businesses often overlook the power of branding, it is just as useful to think in this way if you’re a one-person business as it is if you’re a large corporate organisation. And doing this groundwork – teasing out your key messages and then using them consistently – will save you a lot of time in the long run.
Have a clear idea about what you offer
If you’ve written a business plan recently then you’ll no doubt have gone some way to capturing a clear definition of what your business offers. But if, as is the case for many people, your business has grown organically, or you haven’t written a formal business plan, then the chances are you haven’t committed your thoughts to paper. If this applies to you, here are seven questions you can ask yourself to start to build up a picture.
7 questions to help define your business:
- What one or two words best describe what I do?
- What is my area of expertise?
- What is the output from my work?
- What problems do I solve for my customers?
- What is the benefit of my product or service?
- What makes me different from my competitors?
- What doubts do my customers have?
Think from a customer’s point of view
You’ll notice that the questions initially look at your business from the perspective of your skill set and experience, but then progress to looking from the perspective of your customers. This shift is fundamental to writing successful marketing communications.
Once you’ve jotted down your initial thoughts, you will need to refine your answers and re-write them using language that your potential customers will understand, as well as adopting a tone of voice they will relate to. This stage is especially important if your product or service is of a technical nature and your audience is non-technical.
Bring your thoughts together
Once you have refined your answers, collate your thoughts into a short paragraph – four or five sentences should be enough to convey the essence of what you offer. You may find there is a natural hierarchy to the benefits you identify, or that certain attributes give you a clear point of differentiation from your competitors, thereby enabling you to identify your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).
The statements can then be used time and time again as the basis for your customer-facing communications.
The groundwork for face-to-face communications
This work is not just useful for written communications. Creating the time in your schedule to go through this process means you will be better prepared at your next networking event, or when you have to pitch your business to potential clients – or even if you have to negotiate a loan from your bank.
If you’d like help with your communications, then please contact me on 01249 653 816 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.