#19: Proposition – Part 1

It is really important that you can articulate with absolute clarity what your business proposition is. This is vital because, unless you are really fortunate, there will not be many occasions when you meet somebody for the first time who is ready at that moment to buy what you do.

You will meet two types of people:

  • Those who at some stage might buy your product or service
  • Those who can refer to you people who might buy your product or service (some people could fall into both categories.)

It is therefore essential that you can communicate what you do, both verbally and in print, so that it is easy for the listener or reader to grasp what you do.

A note about Jargon

Avoid jargon. You will be amazed at the number of people who blow their own feet off using jargon. Here are a few examples I have come across over the years:

    • I was grooming someone to go in front of the real life Dragons’ Den; my objective was simple – help him go forward into a business angel environment and come out with a cheque rather than in a body bag or on a stretcher.

He had a First from Oxford and a Masters from Sussex and told me he was an expert in neural networks. I just looked at him. We got off to a horrible start and I threw him out (in a nice way) and told him to come back when he could tell me what he did in words I would understand.

    • Use doing words, not descriptors. It makes your description more dynamic! I met a lady at a networking event who introduced herself as a trained hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner. The eyes of the entire room of 40 people glazed over. Nobody knew what a NLP practitioner was.

Not only had she used jargon, she had put herself in a “box”. The people who ran the event took her to one side and said, “Look, if you are going to make the most of this, you have to make it easy for people to know what you do, so if you don’t want people to look blank, you have to change what you say”.

The next week she came back and to her credit had changed her pitch, she began with “if you are scared of flying, I can help you with that; if you are trying to lose weight, or stop smoking I can help”. She then went on to explain that she had certain qualifications which gave her the ability to offer this. She had come up with a much more successful way of getting her proposition over to an audience.

    • Something which I did not realise until recently was that, when you talk to somebody, they open a folder in their brain with your name, company name and what you do in it. If they can come up with a helpful image they will put that in as well.

So our NLP practitioner did exactly that – everybody could picture a plane, a cigarette, a piece of cake, a spider or any other phobia and they could create a record that she was someone who could deal with that.

Another thing you should be aware of is understanding why people might buy from you. If your market is “business to consumer” there is a whole variety of reasons why people might buy from you, and you have to build that into your description of yourself. It could be convenience, peace of mind, security, safety, fashion or a range of other features. You have to make sure your message taps into the right one so that you get the recall.

Next time, we will continue to look at propositions and why telling people what you do rather than what you are is vital to securing new business.

Posted in: Start-ups

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