EXPLAINING WHAT YOU DO IN 15 SECONDS
by Charlie Cook
You're in the elevator and your friend John introduces you
to Barbara who is the CEO of one of the companies you'd
like to do business with. Barbara asks, "What do you do?"
Here is your chance to make a connection with a prime
member of your target market. You want to get her
attention, make a positive impression and get her
interested enough to continue the conversation. You've
got about fifteen seconds to do this.
Whether you are in the elevator, or on the phone, the
way you start the conversation will determine whether or
not it will continue. You could tell anyone what you do
if you had half an hour, but with fifteen seconds you're
likely to simply label yourself, as most people do.
Labels don't tell us much. Imagine you told Barbara in
the elevator that you are a coach or a consultant. Are
you talking about working with high school kids, senior
managers, or actors? Few job labels tell your audience
who you work with. Most labels are not only vague but
don't help to prompt the conversation to continue.
You could be more specific and tell your prospect you are
a tax accountant or an automation specialist. That gives
people some idea of what you do, but still doesn't
explain why your prospect should care.
Instead of using a label, you could tell your prospect
how you do your work, the processes you use. You might
say, "We analyze light manufacturing companies to
identify areas where the addition of a programmable
logic controller could boost throughput." If she
understands what you are talking about, you still
haven't given her a reason to contact you.
Whether you are an executive coach, lawyer, accountant,
or automation specialist, when you start talking about
the processes you use eyes glaze over and minds shut
down. While you may have developed processes that no
one else uses, prospects don't car about the process,
at least not initially.
One of the most common mistakes people make is assuming
their message should be about themselves. If you are in
business to provide services and products to clients and
customers, your marketing message should be about their
needs and wants. Here's the difference:
- "I'm a marketing coach." (It's about me, and who really
- "I help independent professionals attract more clients
and make more money." (It's about what I do for others
and should prompt the question, "How do you do that?")
Your prospects' primary concern isn't you. They want to
know what you can do for them and how you can help them
profit, financially, physically or emotionally. They want
to know if you can solve a problem for them.
To get attention with a short sentence about the problems
you solve, you might tell Barbara you "help reduce
manufacturing operating costs and increase profits". Cost
containment is a continual problem for any CEO and should
pique her interest and prompt follow up.
Stop shutting the door to new business with your marketing
message. When people ask you what you do, avoid using a
label or a discussion of process. Instead, quickly clarify
who you help and what type of problems you solve. One
sentence should do the job.
Talking about what you do in a new way takes a little
getting used to. The first couple of times you stop
yourself from saying, "I'm an executive coach or
consultant" and replace it with a marketing message that
describes how you actually help clients, it will feel
awkward. Keep using and fine tuning your marketing
message and soon it will not only give prospects a clear
idea of what you do but you'll be comfortable using it.
Once you have a 15 second marketing message that works
you can use it in the elevator, in the airport, on the
phone, and at parties and watch your business grow.
2004 © In Mind Communications, LLC. All rights reserved.
The author, Charlie Cook, helps independent professionals
and small business owners attract more clients and be
more successful. Sign up to receive the F*ree Marketing
Guide and the 'More Business' newsletter, full of
practical tips you can use at http://www.charliecook.net