Life was simple.
The original value proposition of your business—whether you were around to create it or not—used to be so straightforward: A + B = C. Add this solution to this problem and you end up with this happy customer. But somewhere along the way, things got messy. New products and services were added to the mix. Passionless staff were hired. Investors got involved.
And here you are today, trying to market a suite of vague products or services that appear to offer a bit of everything for seemingly everyone. And as a result, all your employees are now telling their own version of the same jumbled story—making up some details, forgetting other key points, and ultimately losing people along the way.
It’s time to stop confusing people—yourself included—on what you sell, how it makes things better, and why people should care. It’s time to regain some clarity. It’s time to start telling a much simpler business story.
And fortunately, it’s easy to get back to the beginning. Ask these eight simple questions to rediscover your story:
Yes, it seems like an obvious question to an obvious answer. But trust me, not everyone at your business answers that question the same way. Some expound ad nauseum. Others speak in bullet points. And still others spew out meaningless industry acronyms and jargon. Go on and pose that question to a few of your employees. See what they have to say.
Another obvious question that leads to less than obvious answers. Find out the diverse answers your staff gives to that question.
If you haven’t already done so, it may be time to start sketching out some buyer personas for your top 2-3 target audiences. What’s a day in their life look like? Their median age? Income? Education? Goals? Pain points? Here’s more on how to create a buyer persona.
These can be both direct and indirect competitors. Take some time to list out exactly who or what is taking away prospects from you.
Think of the specifics that your direct and indirect competitors promise and provide. Basically, answer question #1 about your competitors—what do they sell?
What sets you apart? What’s your competitive advantage? What are your greatest strengths?
This question can be asked on a personal level. Why do you, the employee, do what you do here? And it can also be asked on a global level. Why does our business exist? What’s the angst that exists in ourselves and in the marketplace that we’re out to solve.
After you’ve collectively answered these questions and documented your discoveries, you’ll then need to work toward consensus on the company’s statements. You need to get down to the core responses. Strip away the right or wrong opinions and find the truths.
It’s these concrete details that will return you to a sharp and simple business story.