What's your Essential Message?
Picture this. You’re out having a coffee with a friend. An
acquaintance of your friend happens to walk in and sits down for a
few minutes to chat.
After you finish talking about the weather and last night’s
sports scores, the inevitable question comes up: "So, what do you
You’ve got 60 seconds. What do you say?
If the best you can muster is sales manager or consultant, (or
lawyer, or accountant, or whatever), then you’ve just blown a golden
opportunity to find your next client.
After all, everyone in the world is either a potential client for
you or in a position to refer a potential client to you.
A symptom of a fundamental sales & marketing
So does that mean you have to be in ‘sales mode’ all the time?
No, especially if you think that being in sales mode means being
pushy and aggressive.
But the reality is, if you can’t articulate in a compelling
manner who you are, what you’re especially good at, and why anyone
would want to do business with you, then the problem is worse than
just blowing an opportunity to get a new client when you go for
Now, before you read any further, please allow me to commiserate
Entrepreneurs, consultants, emerging companies and indeed most
salespeople are between a rock and a hard place when it comes to how
you describe your business or introduce yourself at a networking
To start with, there’s no way you can sum up everything you do in
a neat little phrase. And to make things worse, once people know
what you do, they lump you in with a half million other people who,
on the face of it anyway, appear to do the same thing!
But if you can relate to those challenges, then you should
recognize it as a symptom of a fundamental and hugely critical sales
& marketing problem. Chances are, the same uninspiring
‘non-sales’ arguments permeate your entire business -- on your
Website, in your brochure, and in your advertising.
To prove it to yourself, take a look at your website as well as
the websites of some of your competitors. Do you see anything that
engages your audience and speaks to their interests?
If you're like most businesses, the answer is probably 'no'
Throw away the rulebook.
The biggest reason why people have so much trouble with
positioning and articulating a compelling message about their
business is that they are working from somebody else's rulebook.
No doubt you've heard very specific instructions on the 'correct'
way to create a positioning line, or the 'correct' way to write an
elevator speech or infomercial. And of course, everyone knows that
you have to focus on high level benefits and avoid negative
Well, aside from very few universal principles of communication,
it may be all wrong (for you).
What might have worked for someone else has no guarantee of
working for you. And besides, if you use the same rules as everyone
else, then you end up sounding like everyone else.
And you're back to square one.
Instead of trying to apply someone else's rulebook, wouldn't it
be much more valuable for you to figure out the set of rules that
work for you?
How? Once you throw away the rulebook, here are three things you
can do to help you find your way.
Go to lot of networking events.
If you think that networking events are for collecting business
cards and finding new business, you've just found another reason to
throw away the rulebook.
The most valuable thing you can take away from a networking event
is not a bunch of business cards, but rather all the research you
could be accumulating on your Essential Message.
Think of a networking event as a giant focus group that you could
use to figure out what resonates most with people about your
business and what the true core value is about what you offer.
As you work the room, try emphasizing different aspects of your
business. Ask a lot of questions about the kind of service the
person you are speaking to would like to receive. And most
importantly, pay special attention to the reactions you get.
If you truly listen, you might be surprised by what people find
most interesting and appealing about your business.
Ask your best clients and customers.
Clients aren't usually shy about telling you why they like doing
business with you and what attracted them to you in the first place.
If you're shy about asking them, get over it – or hire someone
else to do it for you. Tell your client that you need their help to
understand your business better. Be clear that the purpose of
getting together isn't about asking for new business or referrals,
although new business and referrals often result from these kinds of
And be prepared to probe. When they tell you that they like the
quality of your work, ask them what they mean by 'quality'.
Remember, what may seem commonplace or obvious to you may in fact
be extremely important to your clients. You'll never know unless you
A big part of getting your Essential Message is allowing more of
you to show up in everything you do. That simply won't happen if
you're too serious or overly concerned with appearing
No matter what you do to improve your sales and marketing
messaging, however, it's important to keep working on it.
Unless you have your Essential Message right, it doesn't matter
how many salespeople you hire, how many ads you run or brochures you
send out, or how many people view your Web site. You won't get the
results you need to move your business forward.
The bad news is that it's not as simple as copying someone else's
The good news is that it works.
© 2007 Michle Neray, www.EssentialMessage.com Used with
permission of the author.
About my friend Michel Neray: Michel is a good
friend, covention roommate, fellow CAPS speaker and author. He
gets to the point and helps you do the same. Tired of boring
elevator pitches? Do you wonder why your infomercial doesn't work?
Michel Neray specializes in helping consultants, coaches, trainers
and other independent professionals develop turn more people into
prospects, and more prospects into sales. His 'E-ssential Messages'
newsletters are short, sweet and incredibly useful.
Link to www.EssentialMessage.com to subscribe or for more
information about his workshops, copywriting services, keynotes and
coaching. Michel is also a professional member of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers