We all have a story. The background story of why you started your company is insanely important… to you. One thing I’ve learned over the years through my own experiences as well as from the many guests on my podcast is that while why you started your business matters to you, it matters less to the people you talk to about your business. What they care about is if you can help them, and how.
So today we’re going to talk about how to make your business story relevant to your target market. Why? Well, you want to make money, don’t you? Here’s how to recast your ‘story’ so you resonate with your potential clients and customers
This seems a little obvious, but it’s the first place you need to start. Do you use general or technical terms to describe what you do? And sorry, if you’re saying “we provide customized solutions for your business needs,” you’re not really saying much. Even though you’re using buzz words and standard practice industry language, you’re not really talking to your clients.
Draw it back to what we at GEXP Collaborative call your ‘why’. Why did you start your business? What need were you not having fulfilled that you found a way to service? What was the tipping point that made you start this enterprise? If you can succinctly answer that, you’re one step closer to figuring out your elevator speech for your business.
From your why, you can talk about your who — who are your ideal clients? — your what — what is your target market? — and your how — how are you filling that void? The answer to these questions will generally get you to what you really do.
You need to be able to say the same message no matter how long you have to explain your business, so start small. Instead of “we provide customized solutions for your business needs,” try “we provide custom-made IT servers to better manage digital flow on-site so your business never experiences slow-downs or disruptions in service.”
Your client + your client’s need + how you can help them = your business story. This is what you should be saying to everyone who asks you what you do. Never say “it’s complicated,” because your clients want it to be simple… and, no offence, but they don’t really care how hard your job is as long as it’s making theirs easier! So keep it simple and make it make sense for them.
Focus On Your Clients
This is a big piece of the puzzle that so many of us miss. While we talk about all the wonderful things we’ve done to overcome adversity and create our lovely business, and that’s all well and good, we tend to forget that when people ask us what we do, they really just want to know the exact service we provide.
If your client really wants to know how your business started, they’ll ask — trust me. So re-imagine your business with the clients’ needs in mind first. Everything you do should be focused on them. Your outreach, social media, website descriptions and other marketing need to be tailored to this concept as well.
As you browse through your website and cringe at how many times you say “we” or “us” or “our”, consider how you can rephrase those ideas to be client-centric. Look at your stock (or custom) photos and ask yourself, “Does this really tell the right story?” A picture’s worth a thousand words, but the wrong one costs you thousands of dollars.
If you’re selling ice cubes, have an ad that shows a sad person with no ice in his drink and a happy person with lots of ice in her drink. You want to show your clients just how you’re going to fulfill their needs, rather than showing them polished, professional and utterly meaningless images that don’t encapsulate what you do.
Tell Your Story
Focusing on your website and other hard-copy materials pertaining to your company and what you do is a great start. It’s time to look at any other writing associated with your company, as well as your advertising. Everything needs to center around your customers, and it needs to be the same message no matter how much time you have to present it. Your elevator pitch and your hour-long TEDTalk should cover the same points, in varying degree of detail.
One of the underrated ways to get your story out there these days is in person. Doing presentations at networking events and luncheons, organizing a lecture or being a keynote speaker at a conference are some of the best ways to get your story out there. A captive audience is a wonderful gift and you have the added bonus of impressing the group with your persona. Your passion can shine through as you talk about your client rather than your business.
Before you run out and create a PR nightmare for your staff, have a meeting with your key people and ask them questions from a client’s perspective about the business. Get them to put themselves in your customers’ shoes to help you cement the right words for your new marketing and advertising campaigns. Then, get started on reworking your material to be less you focused and more client focused. You may surprise yourself by what you learn about your company in the process!