‘Vanilla’ or ‘Tutti-Fruitti’?

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Having a good response to the question, “What Do You Do?” is essential.

Afterall, you only get so many opportunities on any given day to ‘nail it’ with a prospective client.

If you don’t, you may be missing an incredibly valuable opportunity simply because a prospect for your services didn’t understand the value you offer.

So, what to do?

The OLD Formula

You’ve heard about an ‘Elevator Pitch’?  That’s where you answer that question, “What do you do?”.  Ideally, in 15 seconds or less.

The problem is this — ‘technically perfect’ Elevator Pitches often fail to hook the interest of a qualified person for your services.

Here’s an example.  Assume you’re a financial planner.  You could say, “I help self-employed businessowners (audience) accumulate the funds they need to retire in style (desirable outcome)”.

Technically, that’s a ‘perfect’ Elevator Pitch.  But does it ‘reach-out-and-grab’ the attention of a qualified prospect?  It’s a tad too generic, isn’t it? And the benefit being offered isn’t very unique.

Most of the time when I hear a bland Elevator Pitch, it’s because the person using it focuses more on the solution they offer than on their prospects problem.

The NEW Formula

Try this:  “Problem” + “Solution” + “Target Profile” instead of what you may be saying now.  Take our financial advisor just mentioned above.
The Problem
What problems do the people who fit this planner’s target profile want to solve?  There are probably several.  But talking with prospective clients will help isolate the issue/s they have. Once that’s known, their most potent issue can be isolated.  That’s the ‘problem’ you want to use.

In the example of a financial planner, let’s say the problem that’s being cited by a number of prospects is this: “It’s hard to find the money to fund a retirement plan when college costs are looming on the horizon and  taking care of elderly parents leaves little money for my own needs”.  NOW . . . you have a good ‘problem’.  Good enough to be worthy of a solution.

The Solution
Make this easy.  It’s supposed to be, you know –– just turn the problem around!

In our financial planner’s example, the ‘solution’ that’s desired by most people is . . .
“to be able to find the money I need to do the following:
1) fund my own retirement,
2) put my kids through college,
3) help out my parents who are living longer than I thought, and
4) support a decent lifestyle for myself”

That’s a bit involved, but notice the richness and specificity it offers if you bring it into a conversation.

These four challenges provide a problem-centric context that makes it far easier (and more likely!) that a qualified prospect will respond to a planner who uses this level of detail instead of the ‘vanilla’ comment (see above) that’s used / abused by so many others.

The Target Profile
This is not your target ‘audience’.  This is a single person who’s a member of the audience you’re seeking to work with.  And it’s the person who would like to fund their retirement but has the three issues, cited above, keeping them from doing that.

Putting It All Together

OK, with all that we’ve addressed, let’s re-do the answer a financial planner could give when asked, “What do you do?”.

The Set-Up

“May I ask you a question, first?  (sure)  Do you have kids you’d like to send to college? (yes) Any chance your parents may need some financial help from you at some point in the future?  (probably)  Do you find it’s harder to maintain the lifestyle you’ve become accustomed to? (yep)  So I’m just guessing . . . with everyone looking to you for money . . . that putting money away for your own retirement . . . is a real a challenge?” (oh, you bet it is!).

The Delivery

“Well, I help small business owners (target) get their kids through college (specific Issue), keep their aging parents comfortable (specific Issue), retire on their own terms (specific Issue)and . . . without compromising their current lifestyle (specific Issue)

“Really!  How the heck do you do THAT?” Now, isn’t THAT . . . precisely what you wanted a qualified person to say after hearing your ‘Elevator’ pitch?

Do you see the potency of your message when you address the specific concerns of someone who fits your target PROFILE vs the ‘vanilla’ concerns of just anyone who is in your target AUDIENCE?

Do you think you could talk with some clients and prospective clients to learn the SPECIFIC issues they have that you can address?

Do you think that will make your ‘Elevator Pitch’ more meaningful?  More memorable?  More response-able?  (I sure do!)


The more specific the issues you communicate, the more attractive your ‘message’ and the more response-able it is for you, too!

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