“And what do you do?”
You’ll get this question early in the conversation whenever you meet someone new. It’s a get acquainted question. But if you happened to read my Elevator Pitch blog post you know it’s a category question as well. You and I keep category files in our head. You ask “what do you do?” so you can decide what category to put this new person in. And the person you’re talking to is making the same decision about you.
And if you read my Elevator Pitch blog post you know not to give a category answer. Getting categorized is bad for you when you’re talking to someone about your small business, especially a home-based business.
Don’t ever give a job title when you tell people what you do. Never say, “I’m a . . . .” Getting labeled is bad for you when you have a chance to talk about your small business, especially a home-based business.
Instead you should say, “I help people . . . . ” For example, I describe my faux finishing business with the line, “I help people fall in love with their home again.” Or, when I’m talking about my work as a blogger and author, I say, “I help new entrepreneurs avoid mistakes like the dumb ones I made.”
In short, you say what you do in a way that grabs attention and raises curiosity. Your answer to “What do you do?” is your headline: it should pull people in to want to know more.
Click on the link above and read my longer explanation if you want more details about developing your Elevator Pitch. But, for now, I’m going to move on and ask you a different question.
What business are you in?
Of course, you’re catching on to my methods. You’re suspecting I’m about to tell you you’re not in the business you think you’re in. That’s exactly what I’m telling you.
You may get paid for your services: as a house cleaner, dog walker, landscaper, accountant, caterer, etc. But your business isn’t any of that. You’re in the marketing business.
You won’t have customers without marketing. You won’t have a business if you have no customers. That means your true business is marketing your services and products.
No one wants a better mousetrap.
The path to your door will be overgrown with weeds if you don’t realize you’re in the marketing business and not the “mousetrap business.” (Yes, I know you don’t sell mousetraps. Just work with me here: it’s a metaphor.) The truth about the way the world works is this — people don’t care about you or our business. They care about themselves. They won’t think about you at all unless you tell them a compelling story about your mousetrap and the path to your door. And your story better answer their question: “What’s in it for me?”
Marketing is story telling.
I grew up telling stories. I loved telling long stories ending in a pun. Sometimes I told pointless stories that had no real conclusion at the end. (Have you ever heard the “Shaggy Dog” story?) I eventually exhausted my audience. All my friends had heard my stories. The new people I met weren’t as patient. They wouldn’t put up with my inept story-telling skills.
I didn’t realize back then that storytelling is more than just putting words together and delivering a punch-line. You have to balance timing, pacing, tone of voice, non-verbal cues from your listeners, as well as your own body language if you’re going to be a great story teller.
Presentation is everything.
Marketing is the process of telling your story as a business. And the way you tell your story will have a huge impact on the amount of business you’ll have. It’s not enough to have a great story to tell. Learn to tell your story in a way that will connect with the people in your niche market. Tell the story of your “mousetrap” to draw in your prospects, capture their imagination and make them feel as if they are part of your story.
Your presentation is as important as your content. Good content won’t overcome a boring presentation. On the other hand, a crackling presentation will elevate even mundane content to command attention. I remember a recent commercial showing a handsome man reading an ingredient list from the back of a product box. His good looks and dramatic voice capture the attention of the book-club women who are his audience. He also captures the attention of TV viewers.
Pay attention to your presentation and delivery and you have the chance to grab this kind of attention every time you talk to someone. Craft your Elevator Pitch to spark fascination. Learn to tell a good story. Pay attention to both your content and your presentation. Yes, you’ll have to practice. You won’t be a superstar story teller on your first try.
You are in the story-telling business.
Remember, you are in the marketing business. Yes, you make money when you sell your services and products. But your business is marketing. That means you’re in the story-telling business. Take some time this week and polish up your story so you’ll be ready the next time you get the “What do you do?” question.
I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts in the space below. What do you think it takes to be a good story teller?