Do you welcome this question or dread it? Are you prepared to answer it for different audiences? Do you say the same thing to the banker you are asking for a loan as you do when making your introduction at a networking event or at a neighbor’s backyard party?
Step one of any marketing program is a clear definition of the product or service you are selling. It is often the first question in a business plan as well. What are we offering to the public.
For a start up or new business venture, it will be necessary to determine who are the potential customers or clients for this product or service and do they really want or need the what is being offered. Surveys are a valuable tool for determining the viability of a product or service concept and how to position it in the market. We will discuss using surveys in a future article.
- The answer to “what business…” starts with the general category; i.e. the jewelry business, construction, auto service, consulting, chiropractor, women’s shoes, hunting equipment.
- The next step narrows that a bit to better define the market. Is it “I own High Design Jewelry store where we retail the finest high end gold and diamond jewelry” or “I create one-of-a-kind affordable jewelry which I sell on the internet”? “I build high end custom homes” or “I’m in construction and specialize in residential remodels” or “My company builds high-rise condos”. “My business is a full service auto maintenance shop here in the hometown area”. “I consult with high tech businesses to develop strategic partnerships”. “I’m a chiropractor specializing in treating athletes”.
- This definition and statement will be enough for most purposes. You can go one step further so that your statement of the business you are in becomes a marketing tool. Here is where we add what problem you solve for people and how they benefit from your product or service. “I create one-of-a-kind affordable jewelry sold on the internet that helps women create a high-end look on an ordinary budget”. “Maxi-Builders build high-end custom homes with emphasis on the special needs of the most discriminating home-owners for flexibility and attention to detail during construction.” “Joe’s Car Shop provides a full range of auto services with the goal of being the most trusted shop in the area so that we have long term relationships with our customers.” It includes what sets you apart from other similar businesses. This isn’t the version that you would use at the backyard party, but is fully expected at the networking breakfast.
- Work out exactly the definition of your product or service. Go over this with your marketing advisor and several other business people you trust to give you honest feedback. Is it clear to anyone exactly what you are offering? Is it narrowed down enough to give your business focus and allow your prospects to answer if you might be the one for them?
- Practice answering the question “what business are you in?” for several different situations until you can do it conversationally at the backyard party or you can do it professionally for the banker or you can do it promotionally for the networking event.
Need feedback on your definition of the product or service you are providing so that you can focus your marketing? Two Old Pros offers a complementary consultation where we can address this issue.