Jun 18, 2010

Describe what you do in 10 words or less

Your customers have choice. Spend a few minutes on Google or Bing, and you can find virtually anything. Want to find an accountant in Tallahassee? Do a search. Looking for a content management system for your website? Again, go online and search for your options.

The power of search has made it far easier for your business to be found, but it also requires you to be much clearer about what you do.

You only have 5 seconds to explain what you do when a prospect visits your website. That’s not a lot of time to say what business you are in, and what impact you deliver. You basically have 1 sentence to explain who you are, and why a visitor should investigate your site.

So take the challenge. Describe what you do in 10 words or less.

Explain it to me like I’m a 5 year old

Let me throw a wrinkle into this challenge. Present your company description so a 5 year old will get it.

When you only have 5 seconds to convey your message, you can’t afford to use fancy or colorful language. You have to get to the point, and clearly articulate who you are and what you do.

You are trying to create a first impression, which is controlled by your lizard brain. Your lizard brain, the amygdala to be technical, sits near the brain stem and is responsible for your basic human instincts: fear, rage, joy, reproductive drive and reflex responses. It’s the source of your gut reactions.

If your message resonates with a 5 year old, it will also resonate with the lizard brain. The lizard brain isn’t very smart, and doesn’t want to do a lot of thinking. So give it the facts, and let it know why it should allow the rest of the brain to pay attention.

Include a “so that” statement

Why do you do what you do? Tell us the impact of your services.

Rick Spence, a business writer focused on the entrepreneurial market, provides an effective formula for developing your statement: “I do (this, or these things) so that (this market) can do (this).”

When you state “so that,” you are purposefully setting yourself up to describe your results. Again, it’s not about being colorful and poetic. It’s about being blunt, and speaking directly to the lizard brain.

Share, test and refine until you get it right

Describing what you do in 10 words or less is challenging. You probably won’t get it on the first pass. I know I haven’t.

My current description for Sticky Branding is “building brands that sell themselves online so that customers call you first when they are ready to buy.”

First off, it’s 18 words. To get my description under 10 words I have to drop my “so that” statement. Secondly, my statement doesn’t pass the 5 year old test. I am still too vague, and have not achieved simple clarity.

I may not have nailed my description yet, but I am constantly refining it. The best way to find simple clarity for your description is to work it. Share it with as many people as you can, gauge their reactions, ask for feedback and continually refine. Keep doing this over, and over, and over again until you get it right.

Developing your statement is not easy, but it’s essential. Don’t simply accept what you have today. Keep working it. When you can explain what you do to a 5 year old and they get it, you know you are onto something impactful.

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