As I was churning away on my elliptical Friday night around 11pm, I found myself watching the latest episode of NBC’s “The Shark Tank”—a show that I’m starting to feel should be required watching for every entrepreneur and business owner from here to the North Pole. The reason why I say this is because the entire success or failure of the show’s contestants (entrepreneurs trying to get investors to agree to their concept/business and invest money) is contingent upon clear communication. And in this particular episode, a gentleman that was pitching an advanced water bottle/filtration system was so very unclear in explaining his product that he immediately lost the respect of the judges.
Literally, as I watched this man attempt to articulate the unique features and benefits of his water bottle, and as I saw the sweat start to build on his forehead upon realizing that he was a crashing and burning, my mind was brought back to a problem I’ve been seeing a lot more of lately:
A huge portion of businesses can’t explain, in the most simplistic of terms, the problems they solve.
Instead of describing what they do in a way that relates directly to the consumer (again, their problems), they instead dance around theory, ideas, and cloudy phraseology that makes everyone’s head spin until the point of mental exhaustion.
Why Interview-Based Blogging Isn’t For Everyone
I bring this up because a few months ago, I started a very unique blog outsourcing solution called EasyBizBlogging. With this being an interview-based system, we are able to help people that don’t have the desire or time to write and produce web content by sitting down for a 1-hour virtually recorded interview and complete 6-10 new posts per setting. Even better, the content is produced in their voice, something that is often the biggest problem with blog outsourcing.
This being said, I have found that services like EasyBizBlogging are not for everyone. And why is this? Because, as I mentioned above, some people simply can’t seem to explain what it is they do. This can be especially prolific in the B2B realm where the “thing” being offered is a service.
Keep in mind many of the companies I’ve worked with up to this point could easily address how their service (or product) addressed consumer issues, concerns, problems, etc.—but at the same time, I’ve worked with others that, after having interviewed them, it was almost impossible to makes sense of what was said in a way a prospect or consumer could easily understand it.
A Sole Focus on Problems Solved
Recently, I’ve become very good friends with a gentleman named Ian Altman. He’s a member of Cadre, a business group I belong to in Washington DC and is easily one of the most talented communicators I’ve ever been around. With Ian, 90% of his time is spent helping business understand who they are. But when it comes to understanding who they are, the conversation is never primarily based on company lingo, jargon, services, products, and all that all junk that seems to kill great business to consumer(B2C) or business(B2B) communication. Instead, Altman’s sole focus is on helping his clients understand the problems they solve. Once this is clearly identified, and the entire organization is able to understand and articulate this vision, the communication to prospects and consumers now becomes magical—be it face to face, blog posts, video, etc.
Think about it for a second—when was the last time you met with someone for the first time and when they described what they did for a living you were left scratching your head? Personally, I know for certain in the past I’ve made the dumb mistake of telling companies “I specialize in content marketing.” Considering most people have no clue what “content marketing” even means, it’s not the smartest thing in the world for me to come out of the gates talking about it.
This is exactly why my communication today with prospects goes a little something like this:
“Businesses come to me because they have problems and need them fixed.
They’re tired of getting a report from their SEO firm and not having any idea what it means or if they’re getting results.
They’re tired of hearing all this talk about social media and not knowing how or where to start.
They’re tired of having a great company with a great product or service that doesn’t get noticed by anyone.
They’re sick of seeing their competitors crush them online and want to make some digital noise of their own.
So I fix these and many other problems business have…”
Do you see the difference? Instead of saying something really dumb like, “I’m a content marketing expert” I focus the conversation on all the problems I can help solve.
Since taking this approach, my face to face communication has improved drastically and I’m starting to help clients catch this same vision with all their verbal and digital communications as well.
It’s Time to Figure it Out
My point with this little post is a simple one:
If you can’t tell me, in simple terms, what problems your company solves, then you need to stop talking and go figure it out. Heck, contact Ian. But it needs to happen. If it doesn’t happen, your verbal communication will stink and your web content will stink even worse.
In fact, here’s what I’d love to do, just as a little challenge: In the comment section below, tell me the problems you solve. Again, don’t tell me your service, I’m only interested in the problems you solve. Include a link to your website as well if you’d like so readers that share the problem can see how you could fix it. If it goes to spam, I’ll make sure to bring it out, so don’t worry.
Trust me, this will be a good exercise for you, so give it a try.