Roberta Guise, M.B.A.
Guise, MBA, works with experts, small business owners and
professionals who want to be extraordinarily visible and sharpen
their marketing edge. A marketing consultant and speaker, she owns
San Francisco-based Guise Marketing & PR. You can reach her at
I bumped into an old business friend, and after hugs and how-are-yous,
I asked what he was up to. He launched into a detailed explanation
about processes, systems and new paradigm shifts. After about
three minutes of listening I told him I needed to get going. We
hugged again and parted ways.
didnít have a clue as to what he was talking about. Itís
awkward to feel your eyes glaze over when you donít understand
the person in front of you. Itís worse if youíre the one
others donít understand.
Need Legs To Stand On.
you sell a service you know how challenging it is to quickly
convey what you do and why someone would want to buy from you. If
you sell products, lucky you, and remember that youíre really in
the service business.
service is an intangible, or a concept. Unlike products ó which
you can touch, feel, smell, see, or hear ó you canít use your
five senses to grasp a concept. Concepts require thought, tap into
our intellect and knowledge, need a context, and demand a whole
range of other mental frameworks for us to grasp whatís being
communicated. But just when you think youíre conveying your
conceptís real value with absolute clarity, you realize itís
clear as mud.
product values and features is a relative breeze. Next time youíre
in the kitchen read the label of your dishwashing liquid. Mine is
Palmolive (brand name) dishwashing soap (what it is, the feature).
Its value? Tough on Grease, Soft on Hands ó two big benefits
bundled into a single phrase thatís convinced millions of
consumers to buy, and to come back for more after they discovered
the product delivered on the promise.
youíre an architect, doctor, attorney, real estate broker or
someone in a profession thatís easy to find in the Yellow Pages,
you need to know a few tricks for boiling down your processes,
solutions, benefits and features that are as easy to grasp ó and
buy ó as Palmolive dishwashing soap.
The Holy Grail of Marketing.
just the right words to describe who we are, what we do, who
benefits and, most important, why anyone should care, is to many
the Holy Grail of marketing. Experts have written about it since
the beginning of marketing time, with Al Reis and Jack Trout
perhaps the most well-known with their classic book,
"Positioning: The Battle for your Mind."
the authors tell us, is to look inside the customer for their
perceptions of need and solutions. And in our incredibly noisy and
cranky world, the simpler the message the better. To get into the
prospectís mind and understand what their hot buttons are, we
must, well, get into their mind. You goal is to end up with a
statement, namely, your positioning, that tells readers and
listeners what you do, who you do it for, and whatís in it for
them. The order in which these points appear doesnít really
developed and use this basic 3-step process with my clients for
crafting a compelling positioning that any reasonable adult can
understand. Use this process whether youíre creating a pithy
slogan or tag line, or a longer statement for adapting to your
various promotional pieces.
ask your favorite customers to describe the value they get
from working with you. Ask for descriptive words. Also ask how
they feel about your products or services.
do a "brain dump" and write down your own
descriptive words that convey your value, your services and
also describe you, the person. If you have a partner or
employees, write about the personality of your company.
write a short paragraph using the strongest phrases and words
that your customers and you thought of. Give yourself bonus
points for creating a slogan or tag line for attaching to your
example. At a typically noisy networking event, Sue Young of ANDA
Consulting in Colchester, Vermont, introduced herself. "I
prevent software development projects from failing," she told
me. Fascinated, I probed further. "Well," she continued,
"I save companies millions of dollars by finding out early
whether project objectives are realistic and actually add value. I
was a database administrator for 15 years, so my consulting work
is mostly for relational database projects."
I donít know a thing about big database administration. But
because Young spoke in plain English and painted a vivid picture
about preventing software project failures, I got what she does,
and her target buyers for sure know how theyíll benefit from
working with her.
client of mine is a blast consultant who, with her team of
engineers, designs buildings and structures to withstand the
effects of terrorist attacks. From an engineering standpoint, her
work focuses on how a structure will behave in the event it is
attacked. I created a value statement for her that reads:
have a right to feel safe in any building they enter."
this phrase, my client is telling her customers that the ultimate
objective of her blast mitigating designs is to protect people
from a terrorist explosion. We are always careful to weave this
core value into all the companyís marketing materials, whether
they be printed, on the Web or spoken.
Test, and Practice Again.
youíve written your statement or slogan, practice a brief spoken
version. You want it to slide off your lips when talking to people
who donít know you. See how they respond. Get their feedback.
Make changes and test again. Repeat as needed. How will you know
it works? Youíll find your listeners hanging onto every word you
say and wanting to know more.
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