"What do you do?"
Such a simple question. And it's one that provides the perfect opportunity for you to create interest and intrigue around your business. Yet so many business owners squander that opportunity with clever-sounding job titles or yawn-inducing jargons, assuming that they will somehow make a good impression on the listener.
So, what do you do, when faced with the question "What do you do?"
The difference between good and bad marketing.
Bad marketing is usually business-, or self-focused. Good marketing, on the other hand, always focuses on the customers, their problems and the solutions they're looking for.
Most people answer the question "What do you do?" with:
- "I run a cleaning company."
- "I'm an executive coach."
- "I'm a branding specialist."
- "I'm in marketing."
Boring, right? It's all about you. And it doesn't leave much room for the other person to continue with the conversation.
"What's in for me?"
Here's some harsh truth: Nobody cares what you do.
But they care about themselves. They're thinking:
- "How will I benefit from it?"
- "Is it going to make my life easier?"
- "Will it help me become healthier? Richer? Happier? More confident?"
- "Will it help me become a better parent? Raise confident kids? Have a better relationship with my spouse?"
- "Will it help me to have more time? Be more productive? Have a business that makes money?"
So, instead of telling people your fancy or made-up job title, tell them how you can help them with their problems.
Who, What and How
It may sound like quite a challenge, but here's a simple framework you can follow. When you answer the "What do you do?" question, make sure you address these 3 points:
- Who do you help? (Who)
- What problem do you solve for your potential customers? (What)
- How do you solve the problem? How will their lives be better? (How)
Here are a few examples:
- "I create beautiful, easy-to-manage websites for small business owners so they can update any time themselves, without the need to pay an expensive web designer each time."
- "Hate having to cut your lawn after a hard week at work? Our team of professional landscapers will leave your lawn looking immaculate, so you can have your weekends back and still enjoy the envy of your neighbours."
- "I provide athletes and marathoners with evaluations and customised treatments so they can go out, win their next race, and feel great."
These answers tell someone what you do, in a way that demonstrates you know what challenges your customers face and how you can make their lives better.
This approach positions you as an authoritative figure in your field and leaves the conversation open for further exploration.
You can think of these statements as "elevator pitches". But I prefer to call them one-liners. They can be used whenever someone asks you what you do, or when you find yourself in a situation where you have to introduce yourself.
Template for creating your one-liner
You can use this template to create your memorable one-liner.
I help [target market] [solve their problem] so they can [how their lives will be different].
You may be wondering... "What's wrong with just saying my job title?"
Saying your job title doesn't make you stand out from the crowd because you're not telling the story of what you do.
You could say... I'm a business development manager, a florist, a salesperson, or [insert job title here] but that doesn't leave any wriggle room for intrigue. And frankly, it's unmemorable and makes you seem rather average.
The other person may say, "Oh, that's nice. Are you busy?" And then the awkwardness sets in as you both politely part ways.
What to do if you can't come up with a memorable one-liner.
Not sure how to define yourself? This brainstorming exercise will help.
Create three columns on a blank piece of paper. One for what you do, one for how you help your customers and the third for how the customer benefits from your services.
Try to write as many ideas in each column as you can without editing. Then review your list and highlight the snippets you like. Write out a few one-liners, mixing and matching until you find the right combination.
If you have identified multiple one-liners you can use, keep them. Just be sure they're relevant and memorable.
Your one-liner will evolve.
Don't worry if you find writing your one-liner a bit of a challenge at first. Remember that you are not going to be stuck with it for the rest of your life. Your one-liner will evolve with you and your business. You can change it, or adjust it anytime you want.
Watch how others react when you try out your one-liner. And notice if people are asking more questions and showing genuine interest in what you do. If they do, you've got a keeper! On the other hand, if you get a blank stare, or a routine exchange out of politeness, then make sure you take the time to adjust it until you find a winner.