I was on a conference call the other day with one of the organizations where I volunteer. I was asked to be on this conference call and help with their project because I was one of the few people with any marketing experience they knew. I just assumed that most people in this organization know what I do. I’ve been around awhile, and I have created and maintained multiple websites and other marketing projects.
The call started and the host, the one who invited me, made introductions. When he came to me, he introduced me as the ‘Computer Guy.’ “Shawn can do anything with a computer!”
A few people on the call knew me but most didn’t. These people had no idea why I was there and what I could offer them. The appropriate answer should have been, “Shawn can help us promote the event on social media” or “Shawn can write copy and produce flyers that may get people to sign up.” They could have even just said, “Shawn has over 30 years of marketing and advertising experience.” Instead I am the computer guy, the Minecraft expert for all they know.
Now was it my friend’s fault for introducing me as the computer expert? Probably not. I should have done a better job explaining what I do to my friends and colleagues. Something simple that they can remember.
In years past I tried to be a jack-of-all-trades designer. I promoted myself as a designer, writer, web designer, print advertiser, radio and tv advertiser and who knows what else. I could do all those things, but my friends and business associates had no clue how to recommend me. It was all just too much information, and I didn’t seem focused. I decided I needed to simplify.
The main thing I was going to stop promoting was print, and that was hard. It is my first love. I still miss the days of using tape, boards and an X-ACTO knife to put an ad together. Email and the internet changed how we look at print and how we use it. It’s still around but not as important to my clients.
One thing I have noticed over the years is that fewer and fewer people know anything about designing print projects leaving a select few of us with the skills and knowledge. It reminded me of the late 1990’s when companies freaked out about their legacy computer systems and how they would react to the change in the century, Y2K as it was known. Some of these programs were written decades earlier, and when they needed to make the Y2K updates, scores of retirees went back to work as highly paid programmer/consultants. They were the only ones who could make the changes and meet that December 31, 1999 deadline. Maybe one day print will do the same for me. A boy can dream, can’t he?
But I digress.
I realized that what I was good at, what I enjoyed doing and what businesses need are web and brand experts. I adopted the tagline Web, Brand and Grow. I help companies build their website and their brand so they can grow their business. Something simple I could tell my friends and associates and they could become my evangelists.
What about you? Do your friends and associates know what you do best? Do they know the specific work you want?
Business people tend to have an elevator speech ready to so they can explain what they do. If you go online and search for ‘elevator speech,’ you will find you can get into the weeds quick with specific words and phrases and how it should be written. It can be a little much. The phrase ‘Elevator Speech’ comes from the idea that you should be able to tell someone what you do in the time it takes you to ride in an elevator, 30-60 seconds. Once the doors open, they are gone.
Here are a few things that you should do:
- Review your offerings and decide where you make the most money
- Find out what your clients really want
- Create a short, simple phrase you can tell people about what you do
- And then tell your friends, so you don’t become “the computer expert.”
Let me be clear. I am not telling you to stop doing everything you are currently doing, just focus on the ones that bring you more clients, more money, and more joy. I may not be promoting print, but if a Y2K of print shows up, you can bet I am going to cash in on that.
In the meantime, I am going to continue to create websites, building brands and helping businesses grow.