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How to Answer the Question “So, What Do You Do?” (Plus Why It Matters)

“So, what do you do?”

If you went to a BBQ this Memorial Day, chances are, someone asked you this question. It’s a standard conversation starter.

Unfortunately, our responses are usually pretty boring. “Oh, it’s complicated. I’m basically a marketing consultant.”

“Uh, I have this online business and we do some stuff in healthcare, you know.”

“Well, I run a family business that my grandfather started in a broom closet 50 years ago.”

This is a huge missed opportunity.

What we need is a one-liner — a sentence that tells what we do in such a way that draws people in and gets them to buy our products.

We’ve got a chance to spread the word about our businesses, and instead, we’re shrugging it off and boring people.

What we need is a one-liner — a sentence that tells what we do in such a way that draws people in and gets them to buy our products.

A good one-liner has three parts. It starts with the problem or pain point someone experiences. Then, it describes a product. And it ends with a resolution that someone would experience because they’re using that product.

Here are a few examples of how these three parts show up in great marketing copy. These examples don’t follow these three parts exactly, but they’ll help us understand how important it is to state what you do clearly and with your customer in mind.

Trunk Club

This simple statement literally calls out the problem Trunk Club solves: looking at a full closet and still feeling like you have “nothing to wear.” If you’ve ever said that, you’re instantly hooked to learn more about how their mail-delivery styling and wardrobe service is going to make that problem go away.

Emma Email Marketing

With just fifteen words, Emma connects the dots between their product — a digital marketing platform — and the success you can experience as a result of that product — better results for your business.

Conservation.org

For a nonprofit, defining the problem can look like defining the stakes of its cause. Here, Conservation.org makes the claim that people need nature, so their organization protects it. They go on to describe the specific ways they do it and why it matters.

Takeout Kit

In the increasingly competitive space of home-delivered meal kits, Takeout Kit defines and solves a common problem: the perishable ingredients in your meal kit box go bad before you have a chance to make the meals. They even name the problem “meal kit anxiety.” Then, they show how the extended shelf life of their meal kits helps you “get your life back.”

Do You Have a Strong One Liner?

Do you have a clear sense of the problem you solve, the product that solves it, and how it makes life better?

If not, I just posted a free video series that will help. It’s a four-part series, but I devoted the first video to making sure you have a strong answer to the question, “So, what do you do?”

You can get instant access to the videos by clicking here.

How Having a One-Liner Helps Everyone On Your Team

But maybe you’re not convinced you need a one-liner. If that’s you, I want you to take 10 minutes today or tomorrow and try a little experiment with your staff.

Invite your employees, one by one, into a conference room. Tell them they’re not in trouble and this will just take a few minutes.

Then ask them to tell you, in 30 seconds, what your company does.

Set up your smartphone to record each response. When they’re done, just say “Thanks!” After you’ve interviewed everyone, transcribe and print each response, and then put them on the wall. As you study them, ask yourself these questions:

• Are the answers similar, or are they all over the map?

• Do your staffers answer quickly and with confidence, or do they hesitate and stumble?

• Do these answers line up with your vision, or are they wildly different?

If you’re like most businesses, you’ll have a wide variety of vague answers that don’t align with your own vision of the company.

If your employees can’t tell you what your company does clearly and concisely, how do you think they’re explaining it at cocktail parties and BBQs?

If your employees can’t tell you what your company does clearly and concisely, how do you think they’re explaining it at cocktail parties and BBQs? It’s a missed opportunity to unleash a salesforce into the world that’s always spreading the word about your company.

And it’s not really the fault of your employees. They just need you to give them language they can use to explain what you do in terms customers respond to. That’s exactly what the one-liner does.

My latest video series will show you how to write yours. I go into detail about the three-part formula of a great one-liner. I also explain more about why it works so well and the other places you can use your one-liner to grow your business.

Don’t keep missing out on the opportunity to brand and grow your company. Ready to get started? Click here for instant access to the videos.

Discover How to Write a Compelling One-Liner

[AND MUCH MORE]

A one-liner is just the first step toward creating better marketing without spending much money. Watch my new free video series, Avoid the Marketing Money Pit, and I’ll walk you through a proven (and practically free) plan to grow your business.

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