When asked about their business, most business owners tend to talk about the features of their products and services, their industry or their own business goals. The problem is that these types of answers miss the point of the question entirely. If someone asks about your business what they really want to know is: “What can you do for me?” No one buys features… ever. People don’t really care about features. What they care about are the benefits. The truth is that no one but you cares about your products or services. What they do care about is what your products and services can do for them.
In this lesson we will work on the messaging that you will use throughout your web pages, blogs, social posts, advertising and emails whenever you are trying to get people interested in your products and services.
Make sure that you have downloaded the “Business Blueprint Workbook” that goes along with this lesson and fill in your answers to the “Products, Services and Messaging” section as we go through this lesson.
1. List the features and benefits of your product or service.
This should be a comprehensive list and it is helpful for you to prioritize the features and benefits based on which are likely to be most important to your customer. Remember, features describe what something can do. Benefits describe the value an end user will receive. Sellers tend to be drawn to describing the features of their product or service because those are the mechanisms that deliver the end value to the customer. However, the end customer typically doesn't care much about how the value is delivered, all an end user really cares about is the value that they will receive. This doesn't mean that features are not important, features help users understand how they will receive the value that they are being promised. However, any feature that cannot be directly tied to something specific and valuable that the end user will enjoy, is a feature that is probably not a major selling point to most consumers. So, when you create your list, map every feature to a specific benefit to the end user. This alone is a resource that you and your staff should refer to countless times during the creation of marketing strategies, content and advertising.
2. Write full descriptions of your products and services.
This should be written conversationally. It should sound like something that you would actually tell someone if they asked you. Try to stay away from industry jargon or overly complex terms. This is something that typically gets edited down and refined over time, but just go with a stream of consciousness (meaning whatever comes to mind) to start. Later you will use this as you set up online profiles. It is fine to talk about features, but remember to always pair a feature with the benefit to the user. Example: “Have the power of sunlight in the palm of your hand with this 32,000 lumen flashlight.” The feature is the lumen count, but having the power of sunlight in the palm of my hand is the benefit. If possible, put the benefit first because that is what the reader really cares about, the feature is the fact that supports the benefit.
3. List 3 characteristics that describe your business.
This will influence your messaging. These should be adjectives or statements that combine great adjectives with verbs.
4. Mission Statement:
Looking at all of the features and benefits from Step 1 and the product / service descriptions you wrote in Step 2, create a single short summary paragraph that describes the core mission of your company. Your mission statement should address 4 things: What do you do? How do you do it? Who do you do it for? The value that your customers will receive.
Now it’s time to write a Mantra. A mantra is not a tag line. It is not your advertising slogan (we will get to that next). A mantra is supposed to distill the essence of your business. A mantra is 2-5 words that convey what your brand stands for. That is your mantra. You should be able to measure every decision you make against your mantra to determine if you are going in the right direction.
Write your tagline. This is different from your mantra in that a mantra should be able to keep your business on course with what you want your brand to stand for, whereas your tagline should be a rallying cry to your customers to chose your brand, be proud that they have chosen your brand and to share your brand with others. Your tagline should convey your company’s benefits with personality and attitude.
7. Brand Positioning in the Market:
Brand positioning is a statement of how your company compares to competitors in the market place. Of course there can be many ways to compare companies, products and services, and all of these will be skewed by the perspective of your customers. However, it is important to fundamentally understand how you would like your company to be positioned vs your competitors in the mind of your customers so that you can craft marketing messages that support those ideas. For instance, ask yourself... If someone is shopping your company vs your competition, how are you differentiated? Are you the highest quality, an innovator? Clarify how you want to be perceived by your target customers relative to your market.
8. What is your marketing opportunity?
A marketing opportunity is a need, want or demand trend that a business can exploit because it is not being adequately addressed by competitors. To understand your marketing opportunity you first must identify and clearly define your target market. This often entails anticipating the future needs and creating new products or services before they are in actual demand. However, the danger of this type of new ground breaking is that it typically requires a lot of education, raising awareness and creating demand that does not already exist. In these cases, marketing growth and revenue projections are based on assumptions and therefore increase risk.
9. What do people actually think of your company?
This can only be answered through surveys but it is incredibly important to know what impression people are actually walking away with. Also, you should realize that if you conduct a survey and ask people what they think of you… they are not likely to be completely honest. It is strongly recommended that you hire a third party company to conduct consumer research that consists of current customers, past customers and people who have never been customers but are at least aware that your company exists.
Are you actually doing the work?
Did you write out your answers to those first 6 steps on the Business Plan Workbook? If not, then do them now before you continue. Seriously. This course can only help you if you actually do the work and it will be much easier and quicker for you to do it as we go.
If you have completed the three steps above, congratulations! You now have the beginning of business hypothesis!