How to Describe What You Do in a More Powerful Way
Describe your business
We all know the power of strong messaging, right? The better your messaging, the better it resonates with your ideal client, the better your sales, $$$.
Yet, it’s easier said than done.
Have you ever struggled to describe what you do in a way that really resonates with people?
I have. Heck, what I do can seem pretty nebulous.
Most entrepreneurs don’t know that what I do exists. Many don’t even know they need it.
Now THAT’S is a tough sell!
I was clear on my skills, who I want to serve, and how I wanted to do it (though this naturally evolves). I knew that what I do works and get exceptional feedback from my clients, but I was struggling to communicate the benefits of all this to the types of people I wanted to attract.
So what’s a girl with big-ass business dreams to do?
Lots of trial and error, that's what.
But I want you to figure out your messaging a helluva lot faster than I did, so I'm going to break down what's been most helpful for me.
Now, to be clear, my messaging will never be 100% complete (there’s always room for improvement!). And a lot of this stuff is fresh outa the oven, like super fresh. I’m in the process of updating the messaging across everything as we speak, website first. It’s not 100% done, but what fun is it if I don’t take you all along on the ride with me?!
Test different variations
One of the simplest ways to improve your messaging is to experiment with different messaging variations in the marketplace and see how it changes the reactions and results.
One way you can do this is with A/B Testing. A/B Testing is simply putting out two different versions of something to see which performs better. For example, I can easily A/B Test email subject lines within my email management tool, Convertkit. If you have the right tech set up to track success measures (such as click rate) you can also test different messaging inside your emails, on your website, social media ads, etc.
You can also test out your messaging in person. I decided to experiment by introducing myself and what I do in different ways (you know, my elevator speech). I didn’t directly ask for feedback after trying out a new intro, just observed reactions, listened to comments and questions, and paid attention to what stuck.
I was recently invited to a networking group (I won’t say which one, but let’s just say I won’t be joining that cult). I knew immediately it wasn’t a good culture fit, but I decided to make the best of it. I tested out a new intro idea. Everybody stood up with these cookie-cutter awkwardly scripted intros and when I got up, I started my intro with,
Hi, I’m Stacy and I help entrepreneurs figure shit out.
Now that wasn’t my whole intro, but you can guarantee that line made everyone perk up. Two people in the room (actually the only two who were my kind of people and who just happened to be the only other guests) came up and talked to me because of that very line. It was memorable, resonated, and punchy.
Because of this I decided to use it a little bit more and the trend continued. I’m not sure that’s where I’ll land forever, but for now, I’m having fun with it (and decided to make it the feature line on my website).
This line, however, does not stand on its own. It needs more context, so I kept working.
Use a proven framework
I’ve gone through some super-helpful (and free!) webinars like Pia Silva’s Badass Your Brand Crash Course, Ashlyn Writes Masterclass and Marie Forleo’s Copy Cure. I did find lots of value in them and I’m sure you would do, but without investing in their online courses, I was only getting a small piece of the big picture (the purpose of a webinar, right!). However, I just wasn’t at a point where I wanted to invest in another course.
That’s when, in the span of a week, a friend told me she was reading Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand book, someone at my coworking space recommended that same book, and then I heard the author speak on Amy Porterfield’s podcast. It was one of those moments where the message hits you that magic number of marketing times (three incase you haven’t heard) and I knew I had to read this book.
Building a StoryBrand is all about applying the concept of a Hero’s Journey (the framework that every good movie plot is based on) to help you clarify your message. He makes it so stinkin’ simple to understand and offers a step-by-step guide to write your own messaging.
THIS was what I needed.
I did all the steps they tell you to take in the book and while I was getting closer, I had some trouble narrowing down and putting all the pieces together in a compelling way.
Do you know why free webinars convert to online course sales and cheap books often make you want to hire the people who wrote them? It’s not because the advice isn’t incredibly valuable on it’s own, but because you get a taste for what you need to do only to realize how incredibly difficult it is to figure it out by yourself.
Even as someone who helps other people with this, I too need outside perspective and help sometimes.
We are all just too close to our own work and easily get stuck in our own heads!
So, am I recommending you hire someone?
You could. I hired a copywriter when I first launched this business’s website. She was super helpful in taking all of my materials, client feedback, and ideas and finding the good stuff. I still use some of the language we co-created today. Unfortunately, that was so early on that I was still figuring out my brand and my business and so inevitably I’d need to change it over time. Working with her did however actually help me gain some clarity around my brand and my business and set the foundation for how I thought about stuff moving forward. So even though my messaging has evolved since then, the investment was well worth it.
This time I wasn’t struggling with coming up with great writing (though StoryBrand does have hireable consultants if you need that and like that approach) - it was in choosing, narrowing, and organizing. So instead of hiring a copywriter again, I asked several people close to me for honest feedback as I went.
This is the free kind of help. The kind you get from those oh-so-important business confidants in your life and should give them in return.
I talked to my marketing collaborator, my strategy partner, my accountability partners, and other entrepreneurs I know. I was careful who I asked though to make sure I received valuable and relevant feedback. I wanted to be sure they fit at least one of these criteria (1) They are my ideal client (2) They’ve been a client (3) They know me and what I do well (4) They are a marketing, strategy, brand, or copy expert.
If I got feedback from someone that didn’t meet one of these criteria, I’d have to take it with a grain of salt. After all, good messaging attracts the people you want and repels those you don’t. So if someone outside of these criteria doesn’t like your messaging, that could actually be a good thing.
I knew I was finally getting it right what I got reactions like Yes!!! That really resonates with me. Here’s the line that got the most positive feedback,
Just because you work for yourself, doesn’t mean you need to figure it all out by yourself.
But while a mantra, philosophy, or tagline like this can resonate with people, it can’t do all the work itself. Their feedback was super helpful and helped me realized where I needed to do more work. I still needed to explain more clearly the kind of transformation that my clients experience from my main offering, Strategy Intensives.
Use your core client’s language
As an entrepreneur with a market research background you can bet I’m always gathering as much info as I can from my clients (or the people I want to be my clients). I have testimonials, feedback, intake forms, comments I’ve written down, emails I’ve received, and comments or questions I see in relevant groups or reviews.
(If you don’t collect this kind of info, the best time to start is NOW.) Here are two free list of questions to get you started:
New Client Questions
Client Feedback Questions
I’ve gone through this info in the past for inspiration and knew it well, but without a framework to put it in, my messaging still sounded mundane.
The StoryBrand framework was just what I needed to make it pop. After all, StoryBrand is based around understanding (and telling) your client’s journey to solve their problems.
As I looked through my client language notes, the ideas of having many scattered thoughts and ideas mixed with self-doubt came up time and time again. I knew I had to do something with it, but just putting it into words didn’t feel right.
Sometimes using visuals is a way more compelling way to get our point across versus purely using writing. And, it just so happens that I love creating graphics, but sometimes I forget to take this approach.
It wasn’t until I was re-reading a testimonial from a client that the idea for a graphic hit me. Her testimonial said this, At the start of the Strategy Session, Stacy extracted all of the details that were bouncing around in my brain like a thousand pebbles. Then she led me through the process of sifting through them and identifying the best ideas to keep. By the end of the session, she neatly gathered up all the gems and handed them back to me in a perfect package which I can now deliver to my clients.
I immediately whipped up a graphic inspired by this quote and once I added the new graphic to my website, I got the most positive reactions from people so far:
I LOVE that!
Wow, that’s so compelling!
I can totally relate to that! I need that!
Here’s what it looks like paired with the copy:
Are a bazillion thoughts & ideas bouncing around your head?
MY STRATEGY INTENSIVE HELPS YOU MAKE SENSE OF IT ALL.
All this to say that just like your overall business, figuring out your messaging is a journey that will likely involve you tackling it from multiple angles and will see evolution over time. But if we are intentional about where we get inspiration and guidance for our messaging, it’ll make the process easier and the end result more compelling.
Here’s what I’d recommend:
Start accumulating quotes from your core clients and ideal clients NOW. Here are some ways to do that:
Have an intake questionnaire or ask all your new clients questions like, What are your biggest challenges and struggles?
Capture things they say
Ask for feedback after you work with them
Read what comments and questions get posted in relevant forums like Quora, Facebook groups, Instagram comments, book reviews, or testimonials.
Read Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand book (you can also listen to Amy Porterfield’s podcast first for an overview) and do the recommended work chapter by chapter (this process will involve some brainstorming - and ideally pulling out info from your ideal clients - before getting to the messaging gold).
Get feedback from people that fit one of these criteria once you have a good messaging draft:
They are your ideal client
They’ve been your client
They know you and what you do well
They are a marketing, strategy, brand, or copywriting expert
Experiment with your new messaging on your website, marketing materials, and in introductions paying attention to how different messaging changes reactions and results.
Create some graphics to make your message more powerful. You can hire someone if you have a budget (it might not take much just for one or two), or just do it yourself like I do if you have a bit of creativity (I just make mine in Keynote, the Mac version of Powerpoint, and save the slides as images).
Continue to always get feedback from your clients and use it to improve your messaging over time as you learn more and more about them.
Need help getting info and feedback from your clients?
I have two free guides for you. One is a list of questions to have all your new clients answer and the other is a list of feedback questions to ask after working with them. Download them both for free below.
New Client Questions
Client Feedback Questions
MY AFFILIATE COMMITMENT
I only promote things that I have personally used and feel good about recommending. If I won't use it or haven’t, I won't tell you to. This article is first and foremost about helping you improve your messaging. Because some of these resources were so helpful to me, I want to tell you about them and it’s also the reason I may have become an affiliate for some of them. If you click some of the links above and end up making a purchase, it’s possible that I may receive some sort of compensation for helping to spread the word to you about their awesomeness, so thanks! This helps enable me to continue to provide you with the best free resources to help you build a kick-ass business. - Stacy
I’m Stacy, an entrepreneur, strategist, and adventurer dedicated to helping you build a kick-ass business out of your skills & passions. Why? Because I think you should love your life and that’s kind of hard to do if you don’t love your work.
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