What Does Your Company Actually Do?

You guys are like a web design or marketing company right?

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to correct someone about what my company does for our clients. If you are anything like me, you tend to over-explain things.

We put buzzwords in where they don’t belong, we try to sound smart.

What really ends up happening is we confuse people.

In my industry, we use to say things like “We are the thought leader in distributed cloud computing solutions”

What does that even mean? What do I buy from you?

We don’t do it to try and be confusing, we try to do it to stand out, to be better than the competition. If we can just sound smarter than our competition we’ll get new business flying in the door. Unfortunately, that really doesn’t happen. It leaves our potential customers confused about what it is we do and they then form an idea of us that is not the reality.

I know that may lead to the other end of the spectrum and thinking, “Well now I need to dumb down my business so everyone understands it”. Which isn’t quite true either.

If you’ll indulge me a bit, I remember meeting someone whose prior career was in venture capital and private equity. We were chatting over a break at an event and asked him what he did prior to his position and he looked up at me and said:

“Well Josh, I make rich people richer”.

The simplicity of it was pretty obvious. But it did one thing that most statements don’t do, they focus on the customer and not the features that your business offers.

Most of the time we are so busy trying to tell our customers what the features of our business are, we miss the opportunity to showcase the benefits of working with our company. There is a saying of “Features tell, but benefits sell”. Think about the launch of the first iPod, instead of saying that they had 16GB of storage for MP3’s, they said that you could fit 1,000 songs in your pocket. That turned the average consumer from asking the question “What is a GB? Is it a lot?” Into, “I don’t know if I even know of 1,000 songs.”

So, I propose you take a simple approach and put your unique spin on it. At Codelation we are a big fan of Steve Blank’s value proposition formula.

His value proposition formula is as follows:

I help X do Y so that they can Z

Now immediately it takes the focus of your features or company and turns them into the results of your customer.

I’ll give an example of a brand you’ve probably never heard of, SOUNDCLOUD.com. They are a site similar to YouTube where artists are able to upload new music to be discovered by potential fans. So if we break this down into our XYZ statement above we have:

I help: Music artists
Do: connect with potential fans
So that they can: grow their following

Now since SOUNDCLOUD is also a marketplace, meaning they have two markets they have to fill, you could take it from the direction of the consumer versus the artist themselves and blend together both sides for a statement like:

Find new music you love. Discover new tracks, and connect directly with your favorite artists.

Notice that we didn’t talk about how quick it is for the artists to upload their music, or how many songs they can store on the platform. They simply highlighted the benefit of both the artist and the consumer within their XYZ statement to put together a strong brand message.

Give it a shot on your own business and see what you can come up with. I’d love to hear your thoughts.