When you meet potential customers for the first time or people that may refer you to customers, what is your response, when they say: “what do you do?”
Recently I attended an entrepreneurs meeting and during a “power networking session”, I found myself bombarded by well-meaning small business owners with introductions like:
- We provide software for computers
- We are industrial plumbers
- I run a marketing company
- We are a travel agent
- I am a financial services planner
I wasn’t brimming with excitement at the end of this session. In fact I was more than relieved when the facilitator announced the end of the networking exercise. Afterwards, I tried to figure out why the networking session had been such a drag. I couldn’t get it at first, then it dawned on me much later that of all the things I had been told about these businesses, nothing had really made me curious to find out more. There was just no excitement and energy in those business stories.
The introductions were all about them, with nothing said to really engage me as a potential customer or someone who might refer the business to others. I couldn’t help wondering if the entrepreneurs in that room were even aware that they were not hitting the mark with their rather run of the mill introductions. In fact no effective networking took place because I was not told what problem each of them helped to solve in the life or businesses of their customers.
Communicating a value that one provides to customers is the secret behind it all. That is what separates a powerful introduction that is memorable and engaging from what everybody else says. Take the travel agent above for example, if they had said to me:
- I take the stress and hassle away from business and holiday travel for my clients, because I handle all their travel arrangements including accommodation. I can even send you an article I wrote recently about the best hassle free travel.
Now that sounds interesting. I might even ask how they manage to do that since most travel agents always overlook something or the other. Already, before I am even aware of it, I am engaged and the business person can tell me more. Notice also that there is a call to action at the end of that introduction which is useful for follow up.
It is always useful to think of your business introduction along the lines of what they call a Customer Value Proposition (CVP) in Marketing. The main principles behind a CVP are the following:
- define your product or service from the customer’s point of view
- highlight what value your product or service brings to the customers’ business or life
- point out what the problem is that you solve for the customer
- it is not about what you do which is the average business story of most people
- or your products features and benefits.
So, next time you have an opportunity to introduce your business, make it engaging and memorable, using some of the guidelines above, and you will definitely hit the mark.