So, we’ve established that the wordsmith side of me believes in the indisputable power of words to attract business.
However, let’s take one step back. The words that we read, that you use, that I write, are based on something. And if that ‘something’ is weak, then frankly the words need to work miracles if they are to be effective. You say poetic licence/I say gross exaggeration, but however you cut it, words that mislead, misrepresent and oversell are sure to have a short shelf life. As fast as you can type ‘we’re the leading company in’…. your customers can be typing quite the opposite in reviews and on social media channels. Leaving your words hanging…
The solution? Nail down a cast iron proposition. Differentiate yourself from the competition. Offer value for money. Provide the best service you can. Do what you say you do.
As a copywriter, an oft cited request by clients is that they be painted as the ‘Rolls Royce’ or the ‘John Lewis’ of their respective markets. This is fine, indeed admirable, as an aspiration. But questioning as to what makes their business worthy of such a description, too often reveals a lack of substance behind the claim.
If you don’t offer it, I shouldn’t write it. And if I do, customers will see through it.
The proposition does not need to be grandiose, spectacular or even totally unique. It can be a nugget of specialist knowledge, an award, a piece of fantastic client feedback, a service element that is unusual or innovative. But once you have established this hook, then customers can be drawn in.
This is the essence of a brand. The set of attributes for which your company is known. A reflection of how you are perceived. And don’t forget about your staff, suppliers and business partners. How you operate your business and deal with external parties is crucial in cementing your proposition.
Large companies invest significant sums engaging branding experts and top advertising agencies to establish and communicate their brand.
But as a small business, it’s every bit as important to identify your proposition. And here’s how to approach it;
- Honest self evaluation – do you truly offer everything, consistently, to the quality and service levels you say you do? Are there any customer surveys or feedback with negative points that you haven’t resolved? Do you need to address any issues with training, resources, customer service? What are your aspirations for your business and do you have a solid plan of how you are going to get there?
- Research your competition – Is there anything you can offer or do offer that the competition does not? Is there anything you do better or more innovatively? Where is your position in the market? If your prices are positioned at the high end, is this justified by the quality of your services or products?
- Have a good think about your target audience – what are they looking for from your business? What is most important to them? On what criteria do they base a decision about which company to choose?
- Identify what problem you solve for people and what you can promise will change or improve as a result of using your services or products.
- Write a list of all of your selling points (use customer surveys and feedback if you have it) and pick the one that is the strongest or most unusual out of what you offer.
This self exploration, analysis and reflection are well worth the time. You’ll develop a message that stands up to scrutiny. That is honest and convincing. That is based on reality not fantasy. And when translated into compelling words, will also start translating into business.