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"So, what do you do?"

We all ask the question and have been asked the question numerous times. When you meet someone new, it is common to want to know what makes you tick. Yet, the response is often so generic that it fails to differentiate you in any way. We all accept the answer, and the answer fails to elicit any follow-up interest or conversation.

Most business owners inherently understand the benefits of their products or services to their customers. They have spent significant time and effort in building solutions to address real needs in the marketplace. They have succeeded at selling their products and growing their client base. But, a large number of business owners struggle to effectively communicate what they do in a way that distinguishes them from the competition. If you find yourself in this group, it may be time to take another look at your value proposition. Your business value proposition is not a tag line or a positioning statement but rather a clear statement identifying the benefits of doing business with you.

Your value statement should have 3 different iterations. 1) The first iteration is the elevator speech. This should be the immediate and well-rehearsed response to the “so, what do you do” question that we all regularly get. Yet, our response to this question rarely differentiates us and generates more interest. If you get the elevator speech right, your target audience should have their interest peaked and cause them to seek more detail, in which case you give them your 2) short value statement. This is a 30 second explanation with a little bit more detail than the elevator speech. Again, if communicated effectively it should give you an opportunity to share your 3) full value statement – usually delivered in written format.

In order to create an effective elevator speech, we start by understanding and developing a detailed value statement. I suggest setting aside some time to truly address this with your management team to as to get as much detail as possible. Address the following questions:

1. What benefits do my products/services offer?

2. What is the value of each of the identified benefits?

3. What are the primary needs/pain points for my customers?

4. How do my benefits address my customers’ needs/pain points?

5. How do my benefits compare to my primary competitors?

Be as comprehensive as you can in addressing the questions above, with particular attention to questions 3 and 4. Depending on your relationship with your customers, you may want to ask them to verify the pain points that you have identified. They might add additional insights on needs that you address or should address in the future.

Once you have the detail on paper you can start creating a comprehensive and meaningful value proposition that speaks directly to the needs of your customer in a way that is meaningful to them. Distilling the comprehensive value proposition to the 30 and 5 second versions will allow you to focus on the most important aspects of what you do in a way that gains you some additional interest the next time someone asks:

“So, what do you do?”

Einar Schow

CEO, My Value Advisor

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