As a small business owner concisely describing what you offer and exactly what you do can be difficult. For small businesses, it is crucial that your customers understand what products or services they can buy from you. To come out top it is also key that they understand a bit about who you are, what your motivations are - and why you are different to the competition.
Some service-based businesses like marketing, admin support or event planning - can be a bit hazy in terms of what services are actually on offer. While for others it is pretty obvious; for example, if you sell fruit and veg - you sell fruit and veg - simple right? But what if its all organic and you only stock in-season produce from farmers in a 15 mile radius. And what if you also offer a catering service for events and a reduced rate for local restaurants and cafes? All of a sudden its not just fruit and veg. There’s a lot you need to tell people about - and thats when it can become confusing.
If you are a small business owner, you might be familiar with the sense of panic that can start to build when you think about how many things you want to shout about to your potential customers. It can be a challenge to communicate clearly what you offer when you are so close to your business, that might be growing quicker than you can think about how to pick it all apart and define it.
Today’s consumers are savvy and VERY knowledgable. They research, they look for recommendations and they make deliberate choices based on a multitude of factors. So how do you sum up your products or services, when you know what you do so well, yet can’t seem to find the words? In my opinion (obviously…) seeking professional marketing help is the way to solidify your brand, your vision and values, what you stand for and what you offer - and communicate that effectively.
But it is also important to do some of this yourself - seeing as you are your business - who better than to sum up in two minutes everything about why you are the best?
Follow these three tips to get some clarity around what you have to offer:
1) Get someone to tell you - Ask a few people who know you and your business to describe what you do in one sentence. Make sure they know about what you do, but are not so close (like a partner, best friend, family member) they could have clouded vision or a bigger insight than most. You’ll most certainly be surprised by what they say. Do they sum it up nicely? Or are they confused or missing the point? This is some indication of how you are appearing to your target audiences.
2) Get sticky - get some post it notes and write every product / service / offer you provide on a different one. So ‘sell local organic fruit’ is one, ‘provide a full and fresh event catering service' is another… Soon you’ll have a LOT of post it notes explaining what you do. Take some more notes and write down each one of your customer groups on a separate one. Stick these on a wall, then arrange all your other notes grouping them together around the relevant customer group. You should end up with a map - demonstrating who your customers are and what you have to offer them.
3) Get wordy - You can now focus on producing some key messages for your business. The act of writing key messages can really help polarise exactly what you stand for and offer. Key messages are a set of sentences / paragraphs / phrases that are used consistently to describe your business and its products and services. Depending on what you provide you could need any number of messages. But aim for:
You might find it easier to write the product messages before the overarching one.
And there you go. You have a two sentence synopsis of your business, a set of consistent and coherent messages about what you offer and a hopefully a clearer sense of who you are, what you offer and why you are unique.