by Robb Deigh
Comedian Lily Tomlin has a great line: "I always wanted to be somebody, but now I realize I should have been more specific."
Businesses have a similar problem - describing themselves in terms that are too general to be memorable and effective. "We create custom software." "We're a health and wellness company." "We're financial experts." Unfortunately, these kinds of descriptions are not compelling. Companies that don't stand out rarely beat the competition.
Here's a cure: As part of your PR strategy, create a compelling company description paragraph and a few messages that reveal not just what you are but -- much more important -- what you do to help your clients succeed. Focus on BENEFITS.
In the examples above, you'd be more likely to hire companies that describe themselves this way: "We are a technology company that helps organizations save 25% in design and
manufacturing costs." "We help busy individuals and families lead healthier and more energetic lives through common-sense exercise and nutrition." "We show people how to save for their future while enjoying the present."
Create messages that support your overall description. Put those messages into all of your communications
Your message document should include four parts to make it easy for everyone on your team to use the language: 1) a paragraph that describes what your company does - this is the kind of paragraph that you can use at the bottom of a press release or on the home page of your website. It says it all in just a few words. 2) your elevator speech - keep it short and very specific, 3) 5-6 key messages that you will want to use in ALL communications (marketing and press materials, website, presentations, paid ads, sales kit, elevator speech and even your on-hold phone greeting) and finally, 4) an information sheet or FAQ with all of the most important facts and figures about your organization - people, products, prices, history, contact info, etc.
Whether you have four employees or 40,000, the ability of every member of your team to speak in a unified voice, using the right messages, is a very powerful, competitive tool. Make it easy for them by creating this document from which they can cut and paste accurate and compelling information.
Robb Deigh is a new member of the Chamber, principal of RDC Public Relations in Fairfax, a book author and a frequent speaker to business groups.