You arrive at a business expo with business cards in hand. You are ready to get some leads at your new business networking conference.
You are convinced that these folks need your services.
You have drunk a little liquid courage (hey, no judgment here), and you go into the sea of faces.
You are squeamish just a bit because, after all, you are used to being in front of a computer and “slaying code.”
You approach a couple of business owners. They look at you and with a big smile, reach out to shake your hand.
They introduce themselves and are very welcoming.
And then it happens.
You knew it was coming, but regardless, you aren’t able to stop the dread.
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“So, what do you do? What kind of business do you have?” You freeze up and shove a business card in their hand before running off to the vending machines for more Redbull.
Happen to you?
It’s okay, my friend. Today we are going to discuss three tips for clarifying your message that helps you generate business and more revenue.
Ready. Set. Go.
What is your target market – whom do you talk to?
Imagine, if you will, you are Vito Peleg, and you just launched WP Feedback. WP Feedback, of course, is a tool to make feedback from customers easier for WordPress developers.
You are sitting in a team meeting, and someone says, “Hey Vito, let’s target a new market. Let’s target plumbers!”
Vito is going to look at that person a bit funny.
What in the world is a plumber going to do with WP Feedback?
Visualize this a bit. We all have a target market.
Sometimes that is hard to decipher, especially if you haven’t been in business long, but determining your target market goes a long way to clarifying your message.
Target markets are often defined by demographics. Many large B2C companies have been doing this for years. You can see it in their commercials.
As a B2B WordPress company, you should focus on one of these market segments outlined at Wordstream:
Maybe you service small businesses in a geographic area. That would be of a geographic segment. Perhaps you focus on female entrepreneurs. This is more of a demographic segment.
Maybe you service business owners that have particular interests, lifestyles, or values such as eco-friendly businesses or see themselves as a rebel. This is a psychographic segment.
Maybe you focus on businesses that have a certain problem that you solve. These businesses seek out someone who solves that problem because it is a huge benefit to them. That is a behavioral segment.
Once you know who and what you target, you can define your target market better. However, it isn’t always easily determined when you are new in business. Sometimes it takes more time.
Additionally, you may choose to target a specific market. Some may target the trades market, industrial, online entrepreneurs, course creators, and more.
Which one do you target? Whom have you worked with the best or the most?
Once you define that target, it will help you be more specific in your own messaging.
What do you do and why?
Positioning is vital in business. How do you stand out from anyone else? I mean, when someone needs a website, why would they come to you?
If you can’t position yourself from any other business in your industry, you are going to have a hard time existing for very long.
How do you position yourself?
To start, you know your target market (see above). Next, you need to know what you do and why you do the thing that you do.
That seems rather simple, but it isn’t.
First, what do you do?
You might say, “Todd, I build websites.”
And I will say, “So. Many other people build websites. Try again.”
Few businesses have the problem of needing a website. For a few dollars, they can spin one up on Weebly. Or Wix. Or Squarespace. You get the picture.
In 2019, the problem businesses have is not needing a website.
What is the ultimate reason you exist to help businesses do? What is the key benefit you provide?
Answer this question, and you will be well on your way.
The final piece here is knowing your “why?” This is something that takes time, and often, you have to look deeper inside yourself to find.
People think it is about putting food on the table, and it is, but it is something more.
For example, one thing I’m passionate about is helping everyday businesses bridge that digital divide.
I know the world is increasingly moving toward more digital, and it will not be stopped. I also know that many businesses are ill-prepared for this.
That takes some training, some content writing, some videos, workbooks, courses, and much more to help them cross that digital divide.
What is your why? What motivates you even more?
Finally, how you do it can be another way to position yourself. For example, if someone were to ask you, “What pisses you off about your industry?” you will undoubtedly have an answer. You may hate the way some people take the money and not deliver what is promised.
Maybe you hate the way some people are only interested in building a website but not following up or offering a site care plan. We all have something that gets us fired up about our industry.
This can be a great differentiator.
Take advantage of stories
In the book Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip and Dan Heath give six principles that help information stick. One of those is stories.
Stories are vital to making a more clear message because it helps your audience visualize what you do.
In the past, when I have advised entrepreneurs who are participating in a pitch competition, I always tell them to tell a story.
A story can be for good or bad, but it always creates emotion.
One example of bad is Elizabeth Holmes, who started the company Theranos. She claimed to have found a way to test blood from a single drop requiring a prick in the finger.
As someone who gets my blood tested every three months, I know the hassle that comes with putting a needle in my vein. I get this need to make it simpler.
The problem is she not only failed, but she deceived her investors about the success the company was having.
Nevertheless, she gained traction because she told a story over and over. She had an uncle who had cancer, and something like her blood-testing machine might have saved his life.
This is what she said in a TED talk as transcribed by Refinery29,
“I grew up spending summers and the holidays with my uncle,” Holmes began her anecdote at the TEDMED conference in 2014. “I remember his love of crossword puzzles and trying to teach us to play football. I remember how much he loved the beach. I remember how much I loved him. He was diagnosed one day with skin cancer, which all of a sudden was brain cancer and in his bones. He didn’t live to see his son grow up, and I never got to say goodbye.”
The story was used to draw empathy and, ultimately, fund a startup.
There are serious questions about the validity of the story. Still, the fact remains that a story helped the concept stick.
I’m not saying go make up a story. We don’t have to do that. You have a story that intersects with your business. You have a story of success a customer had using your service. Stories, true stories, are everywhere.
You may need to craft a greater story narrative using a source like Donald Miller’s book Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen.
Just don’t discount the power of using stories to help clarify your message.
And a story can help it all stick.
Wrapping it up
It can be challenging to understand your message more clearly. Often, the closer we are to our business, the harder it is to decipher.
With a little reflection and thought, you can help identify and clarify your message. The first thing to know is your target market. If you miss on your target market, you will miss your mark.
Next, find your positioning. Whom do you help and how do you help them? Finally, take advantage of storytelling. Stories help messages stick because they connect a deeper level.
Have you struggled with you defining your message? What has helped? What hasn’t helped?