What do you do?
Ok. So let’s say you’re at conference or event. And you’re asked What do you do? And you’re prepared. You’re clear, caffeinated, ready-to-answer; you’ve rehearsed your elevator speech. And you deliver it perfectly, seamlessly.
Fantastic. One person is impressed. Maybe an influential.
Meanwhile, back-at-the-office…everyone’s answering that question with every phone call, email, invoice sent out, statement generated, commission paid.
Are they answering it the same way as you just answered the question? Or do they answer it in their own way…?
True, that would be authentic. But is it authentic for you and what you do?
In some respects, it doesn’t matter. The one person whose opinion does matter is your customer. And what you do, in their experience, is based solely on what nearly everyone else but you does for them.
It could be your answer’s the one that’s not authentic….Did you ever think about that?
So, back to the question. Can everyone at your company answer this question: What do You do? (And answer it in the same way, at least from the same page.)
Are you sure? Ask ‘em.
This post inspired from reading Art of the Start.
Zane Safrit’s passion is small business and the operations’ excellence required to deliver a product that creates word-of-mouth, customer referrals and instills pride in those whose passion created it. He blogs about health care issues each Monday at http://zanesafrit.typepad.com. There on the sidebar is a list of blogs and resources to educate yourself on the health care challenges you face, I face, we all face together. He also writes on small business, word of mouth, marketing, branding, innovation, and failure. He previously served as CEO of Conference Calls Unlimited.
You are touching on a phenomonem which I call “Mental Commodification.” It is the assumption by the general public that market positioning creates relatively insignificant differences and that every company in a given industry is basically doing the same thing as their competition.
Many people seem to view USP as nothing but smoke and mirrors.
Chris Brogan says
I tell people that I’m a typist. Seems reasonable. : )
Chris, I love it!
Zane Safrit says
Thanks. You’re right.
I don’t think it’s the public’s assumption as much as it is their disappointment. Businesses have too often served to disappoint, not delight.
And there’s the opportunity. The bar’s been set so low, that even the smallest genuine differentiator sets a company apart from its competition.
That’s a great opportunity for small business. It really doesn’t require huge investments to create a difference. Oftentimes, it’s a personal act of insignificant costs that sets your brand apart.
2 examples come to mind.
Flowers. I was CEO at a company where we sent flowers to new customers. A bouquet of flowers from ProFlowers.com would arrive at the desk of every new customer, big or small, with a thank-you card. Very inexpensive. Very powerful. It usually sat on the desk of the receptionist. Regardless, flowers on a co-worker’s desk generated talk. And that generated word-of-mouth. It was a simple, personal act. And people loved us for it.
Answering the phones. At the same company, we answered the phones. If calls to sales or customer service weren’t answered the calls rang to my desk. Not often, but a few times a month, a caller would be surprised to hear the CEO answer their call. Nothing says to a customer or prospect that your call is important like it being answered by the CEO.
The personal touch, the small things, in a business are great opportunities for small business to compete against their larger cash-cowish corporate competitors. Compete and win, too!
Chris, I’m with Maesz. I love it.
Stephanie Booth says
After a few years of struggling, I now answer that I help people understand the Internet better, and use it better.
An alternate question which is nice to ask (you probably won’t get asked it much) is “What do you care about?” — It was asked to me once and I blogged about it here: http://climbtothestars.org/archives/2007/06/22/what-do-you-care-about/
Steve Coleman says
The question that needs answering, in a similar manner, by one and all is “What does your company do?”
The question “What do you do?” is not important and as Chris Brogan says should be answered by a simple “I am a typist” or “I am the marketing director”
Getting everyone to say “We make the best widgets on the market and our service is second to none” and mean it, is what is important.