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!

If you’re new to social media, you may feel like this poor soul . . .

“Marcus The Milkman” . . . a (mercifully brief) video by Daniel Hayek:


Here’s the problem. Marcus has it all wrong. Well, sort of.

Social media — and social networks in particular — are grossly misunderstood and used improperly by many people in business.

When that happens, you can feel like good old Marcus here. And if that was as good as it gets, it would be a tragedy.

But, fact is, social network sites ARE productive for your business. BUT . . . you have to know how to use them effectively.

Social Networks and social media are quite effective. So’s a B-1 Bomber. But, without a qualified pilot, it’s just a big, fat paperweight.

If you want your social networking to pay off for you and your business . . . join The Marketing Club™ . . . and learn how to earn with it!

In marketing, you often hear the term ‘demographics’.  Which simply defines a group of people who share certain characteristics in common.

Typically, characteristics such as . . . age / gender / geography / occupation / etc. are used to define a demographic — e.g. “female veterinarians, age 30 or above, in the counties of . . . , who subscribe to Veterinary Economics . . . etc.”.  That . . . is a demographic or ‘target audience’.

The problem is, while a demographic profile or target audience is a ‘good start’, it is NOT enough!

Once you develop your demographic profile, you have defined a target audience.  To be useful in your marketing, you must further refine your ‘audience’ into a ‘profile’.

Target Audience or Target Profile — What’s the Difference?

There’s a BIG difference!

A target audience is a GROUP of people who share characteristics in common — as suggested by your demographic profile.

A target profile is a SPECIFIC individual in that audience you’ve just defined.


So what . . .

is the value in distinguishing a single individual from a group of people who share the same characteristic?  Aren’t they the same thing?

No.  No, they’re not!

Here’s an example: “Women who use cosmetics”.  That’s a very large group (audience) of people, isn’t it?  You could further refine this broadly defined audience by limiting your audience by geography (“In the US” or “In Canada”, etc.) or age (“18 – 25”, etc.) or occupation (“CPA’s”, “Executives” etc.).

But even if you didn’t, there is at least one (and doubtless, more than one!) person who fits the audience definition “Women who use cosmetics” who also prefers to purchase and use cosmetics that have not subjected live animals to harsh chemical testing during the development of the cosmetics she buys.


When crafting a message to attract the attention of women in this target audience, you could extol the benefits of using the cosmetics you offer. But, isn’t that what every other cosmetics maker could say?  So what makes you different and better?

Well,if you wanted to ‘stand out’ from the pack of all the “Me-Too” advertising, you could focus on one ‘issue’ that matters most to a certain sub-segment of this audience — ‘women who prefer to buy cosmetics that have not been tested on live animals’.  (NOTE: there are many ‘issues’ that would help you refine a general audience into a more specific profile . . . but I’m just using this one for this post — any others would be equally valid and effective!)

Suddenly, you’re appealing to a much smaller audience of prospects, aren’t you?

And, because of your unique and beneficial focus — appealing to women who buy cosmetics that do not test cosmetics on live animals — you’re actually more appealing to the specific kind of person you want to attract than the ‘generic’ messaging that other cosmetic companies are likely to produce.

Want proof?  Anita Roddick.  She’s the lady in the UK who founded The Body Shop back in 1976.  She knew there was an audience of ‘women who use cosmetics’.  So did every other cosmetics company!  But Anita also knew there was a profile of ‘women who use cosmetics AND prefer to use cosmetics that have not been developed by testing them on animals’.

Once that profile was understood, Anita’s competitive appeal, relative to her undifferentiated competitors, was significant and undefeatable.

I like to say that you want to, “become a special body to a special group of bodies”. Anita did just that. And, she sold her ‘not-tested-on-live-animals’ cosmetics to enough women — that, in 2006 L’Oreal purchased The Body Shop for over a billion dollars.

The More You Focus, The More You Appeal

There’s a funny thing about ‘focus’ in marketing.  The more specific you are in terms of who you want as a customer or client, the more effective your messaging and marketing is going to be.

Now, as long as the people who fit your target profile are adequate in number to meet your revenue goals, the specificity of your message to them will make you more attractive and your marketing messages more response-able than anything most of your competitors are doing.

Won’t that be nice!


You start with a target audience, you then refine that to a target profile. When you do, your messaging becomes more appealing and your marketing becomes much, much better.

In The Marketing Club™, we talk about knowing your VALUE PROPOSITION.

That’s what makes a prospect willing to pay you for the ‘beneficial difference’ you create in their life or business.

Seth Godin, blogs about three (3) ways to create ‘value’ that will always cause you to be employed.

He suggests the following:

  1. generate sales
  2. add value
  3. initiate constructive action

Revenue creators are financial necessities.  If you generate more than you cost a client, you’re going to be attractive to a prospect!

Value Adders — adding value to processes, people, systems, etc. that generates revenues and profits by increasing efficiency or effectiveness (net of your cost) is always in fashion.

Activity Initiators — being able to start any activity that no one else is doing but will add value to an organization . . . will make you pretty attractive, too.

When YOU think of what you offer your clients . . . which of these three ways to ‘add value’ and, therefore be attractive . . . are you offering your prospects and existing clients?

Makes you think, doesn’t it?


Is your value proposition designed to communicate what you do for a client in one or more of these three ways?

Do you communicate effectively?

How would you know? Probably by the response your reader or listener gives you after you give your message.

So, I ask again, “Do you communicate effectively?” If not, do better.

One key to that end which brilliant communicators like Seth Godin and Steve Jobs have honed to an artform is to be surgically concise.

Another key is to use visual information as much as possible. Afterall, who says, “Gee, I remember your name but I forgot your face!”.

We’re visual beings. We first process reality visually then we ‘process’ it into an abstract verbal understanding. So why make ‘getting’ a message harder than necessary?

Here’s a good example of a master presenter in action:


Communication is an artform. Effective communication combines:

  1. the simplicity of your message with
  2. a visual rendering of it whenever possible

untitled1What does a prospective client want from you?

Do you know? Can you say? What would that look like?

If you don’t know, can’t say or can’t show it, you risk of being an order-taker — someone who invites your prospect to tell you what they need or want.

I’d argue that abdicating your responsibility to know what a prospect needs from you is akin to allowing a patient to tell their doctor what to prescribe.

Seth Godin agrees. In this post, he makes the same point.

The true benefit of ‘packaging’ your problem-solving services in the first place, is how it communicates that you already know:

  1. what people want from you, and
  2. what that solution is supposed to look like

Once you have packaged your expertise to provide the ‘beneficial difference’ a member in your target market is seeking, you’ll never be guilty of order-taking again!

I just saw a map of the world that’s unlike any I’ve seen:


It reflects not geographic boundaries but population densities.

Odd, isn’t it.

When you RE-define the basis of your perception, you change the way things seem.

Now, Apply This To Your Marketing

What if, instead of using ‘gross revenues’ to evaluate your clients, you used ‘profit margin’ or even ‘value of referred business’.

What would THAT do to the way you see your clients? To the way you treat them? To the way you invest in them?

In America, we believe “All men are created equal”. But that doesn’t mean they all perform the same.

Analyze Your Clients

One of the key values you’ll gain by doing a client analysis is to realize not all clients offer you the same value. I submit therefore, you should treat them accordingly because of it.

Of course, you can’t do that unless / until you understand just who your clients are and what they’re offering you, can you?


Analyze your existing clients. Learn to discern who’s more (or, less) valuable to you and invest your attention on those who offer you the best ROI for your time, money and energy.

Social networks are everywhere.  And it seems everyone is on at least one.

At last count, you have hundreds of them to choose from.

The biggies are, of course:

  1. Facebook
  2. Myspace
  3. Twitter
  4. LinkedIn

After these, your choices become practically ridiculous.

Regardless of which one (or, ones!) you choose, how much value you’ll realize from any social network reflects three factors:


This reflects the value of the content you get from the SN website.  It’s perhaps why you first visited a social networking website.  It’s definitely why you’ll return, too.


This reflects the degree to which the social network website ‘screens and cleans’ the information it makes available to you.  If a social network has millions of members (and all the above sites do!) you may find that the sheer volume of information it offers you is, well . . . overwhelming.  That’s not good.  If a site offers ways to make the information meaningful and manageable, that’s what you want!


This is probably the most essential factor in whether you’re a one-time visitor or an ongoing member.  Participation means you don’t just observe others comments, posts, etc. but that you become an active member of the social network site.


Whatever social network you choose . . . use these three factors to help you find the most productive and valuable one (or, ones!) for you and your business objectives.

In the past, conventional wisdom held that people who had a ‘good’ experience with your company might tell 1 – 2 others.

But, if they have a ‘not-so-good’ experience with your company, they would tell 7 – 9 people.

The point was made.  Do a good job and it’s no big deal.  In fact, it’s expected. “Whoa, you did surgery and the patient lived to tell about it?  That’s excellent!”.  See, delivering ‘the goods’ is expected.  And, rightly so.

But screw things up.  Drop the ball.  Smash the customer’s expectations like pumpkins on Halloween . . . and you open yourself and your company to a LOT of  problems.  And in today’s socially networked world, the truth that ‘bad news’ spreads quickly and widely is more true now than ever before.

United Airlines learned this lesson the hard way after after mishandling (no pun intended) a damaged baggage claim.

It seems a passenger, a musician named David Carroll from Nova Scotia, Canada had his rather pricey Taylor guitar literally destroyed by some United Airlines baggage handlers during a stop-over in Chicago, IL.  Here’s how the new media covered it:

Now ________ happens . . . bags do get lost and damaged.  (Heck, United lost my bags when I was returning from Hawaii a few years ago.  Took them about 8 months but I did get them back. And the contents were intact!  Go figure.)

Back to the guitar incident.

David’s request for ‘compensation’ for damages (literally!) were not ignored.  They were refused! By United Airlines.  So, David wrote a song and produced a video about the incident and put it on You-Tube!  It went ‘viral’ and the word about how “United Breaks Guitars” is now more likely what people think when they hear United Airlines than anything about ‘friendly’ skies.

Here’s the actual video that’s now been seen by millions of people because of the PR debacle at United Airlines:

According to one analyst, the stock of United Airlines dropped about 10% drop in value following the You-Tube video release. Roughly about $180,000,000!  That’s a lot more than the ‘cost’ of making good on a damaged Taylor guitar!

The problem isn’t that ‘legally’ United was within its rights to deny the claim for reparations.  It was.  The problem is that the moral compass of the airline, judged by the public (uh, that’s why they call it ‘public’ relations) was deserving of a stiff sentencing.  And they sure handed one expensive sentence to United Airlines.

Today, the world is more connected than ever.  The ‘effort’ to spread news — good or bad — is so much easier than in times past.  That means you must be good to the hands that feed you.  You must treat your customers and clients with at least a modicum of respect and regard.  Why?  Because if you don’t, someone else — a competitor — WILL.  And if you get bad PR, more people will learn of your ‘crimes’ sooner.  And that . . . will not bode well for you.  So stay sharp!  Keep your customers happy and give them reasons to say ‘nice’ things about you and your business!

  1. “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”

Chicken-little was so sure the sky was falling that the entire barnyard was turned into a frenzied bunch of fearful characters.

There was no where near the basis for concern that Chicken-little claimed. But it didn’t matter. The survive-at-all-costs instinct kicked in and made every animal hyper-sensitive and act appropriately . . . IF . . . the sky was falling.

But it wasn’t. And neither is the economy, beaten up as it is, in a depression or a state of total collapse. It’s tough out there. No argument. But it’s not all that bad, either.

This is a wonderful time to do some marketing. Wisely, of course.

This economy is a gift! It’s your opportunity to focus on solid value propositions and service packages that are:

  1. clearly communicated,
  2. aligned around meaningful results, and
  3. ardently desired by your prospects

Oh yes, and listen to LESS radio and TV . . . we are what we hear and think about.  And if we get too much of the media talking about how the sky is falling . . . we’re more likely to believe it’s as desperate as they say.  Next thing, we get nervous and support a perception (it’s still reality, right?) of scarcity. That is not good for any of us.

Be a leader.  Don’t buy the media’s ‘message’.

Remember, it may sell papers but it is definitely not good for your mental health and future wealth.