A common condition I encounter with a number of prospects and new clients is frustration with difficulty talking about their business. You’re in great company if you can’t quite find the magical words to express your company’s value and worth in your marketplace.
Especially in hi-tech and professional service markets, talking about your company can be difficult.
It’s expressed a bit differently experience to experience, but here are the things I hear people say all the time, generally with great frustration knowing their business should be performing better — Does any of this sound like you:
- Our prospective customers don’t get it
- We can’t express our greatest value
- We shouldn’t be competing on price, but we always do
- We know we’re better than our competitors, but we can’t convince people of that
- I look at our website and know something is missing, but I’m not sure what
- We contact a lot of people, but aren’t having as many sales meeting as we should
- Some of our sales opportunities just disappear
The common thread is many people have a hard time talking about the things they do for their customers, as opposed to the things they do. This results in prospects who genuinely don’t get it and can’t recognize anything unique about you or your offer.
You end up being lost in the crowd of your market.
Your core story may be missing or forgotten
Core stories are about communicating the essence of who you are and the things you do. Core stories aren’t about the speeds-feeds-features-functionality or price of your products or services, rather your core story is about who you are as a company and how you improve your customer’s condition.
It’s common for companies to talk about the things they do. For example: sales training companies often lead with their multistage process, years of training experience, and number of clients trained; technology companies commonly lead with the number of ports, quality of service, and spec sheet support for numerous features; professional service companies are known to lead with the pedigree of their staff, nut-n-bolt descriptions of their service delivery, and industry jargon they believe help identify or somehow impress prospective clients.
All of those things can be important and have a place and time in the customer’s buying process, but none are the essence of who you are or how you meaningfully help your clients.
Lack of communicating your core story makes it easier to commoditize your offer — reducing your value to access, convenience, and price. Again, you’re lost in the crowd, looking and sounding like every other company in your market.
When you think about it, it’s not hard to see how most companies in a given market sound alike. Companies sharing market space make similar things and wrap them with similar services. As long as we leave the conversation there, prospective clients have little to differentiate us except for price, convenience, and availability.
What makes a great core story?
Great core stories come from communicating your unique ability to help a client solve a problem or enable an opportunity. Your core story begins and ends with your client’s worldview.
It’s not about the training company’s multistage process, it’s about the training company helping their clients reduce their sales cycle and increase their close ratio; it’s about the technology company enabling more billable minutes or diversifying services to create new revenue streams; it’s about the professional service provider’s ability to increase profitability or reduce risk.
Core stories are about the reason you got into business and the customer condition you’re improving in a meaningful way.
How do you use a core story?
You use your core story to deliver your message in all forms. You can look at it as the foundation upon which everything you do in your business is built.
Because your core story is the essence of who you are and what you do for your customers, it drives everything in your business:
- Your elevator pitch
- Content strategy
- New products and services
- Website design and layout
- Target marketing
- Sales process
- Service strategy
- Business 0perations and policies
And the list goes on.
Certainly, you can operate a business, have processes, development schedules, customers, and revenue growth without a core story. It’s just that things get easier when your core story drives your business and customer communications.
Clarity in who you are and how you help your customers leads to purpose-built solutions in the form of products and services that speak to your prospective customer’s worldview. Your core story makes it easier to communicate who you are — more people get it. Which means prospects can differentiate you from your competitors, your brand is better recognized, and price falls in the buying decision hierarchy.
When it’s easier to talk about who you are, how you’re meaningfully different, and why your prospect should care, people respond to your offer faster and more willingly. You’re less frustrated and have a greater opportunity to reach your business potential. Lead generation becomes easier and qualified prospects self-identify their interest in your company, products, and services.
Core stories are that powerful.
In the next few days, I’ll follow-up this post with a step-by-step plan to create your core story. In the meantime, think about the way you currently communicate with prospective customers. Do they get it? If not, your core story may be the exact place to begin the journey to greater success.
What do you think?