I recently saw a social media challenge to explain your profession as badly as possible, with the idea that people have to guess what you do just from reading the description. So a personal trainer's description would be "I make 'eat less, move more' really complicated." And a DJ would be 'I manipulate sound waves so that people twitch and ingest ethanol'. Descriptions that make your profession a bit tougher to fathom. And it occurred to me that this is a game I've played before. Only it wasn't a game.
Ever met someone at a business event and got a confusing reply when you've asked about their line of work? They give you a string of waffle that doesn't quite make sense, use words and job titles you've never heard before or hit you with a long and meandering list of skills but leave you clueless as to the service they actually offer. You walk away scratching your head, none the wiser - clutching a business card that offers no clarity either.
Hopefully you are not one of these people. But if you are, well you're in good company. It can sometimes take a while to find the exact right words that do you justice, especially if you're a relative newcomer to business. You may have found if you are a consultant, coach or solopreneur with a burning passion to reach a wider audience and the need to earn money doing it, that your unique expertise is genuinely hard to define. Or you may have a whole range of skills, making you loathe to narrow your description down to anything too specific, potentially ruling you out of other types of work you're also capable of. But you're not handing over your CV - you're saying what you do and it needs to be memorable.
So what do you call yourself, professionally speaking? How do you nail your USP in a few handy sentences?
Often the words and terms at your disposal are too general. Your expertise may, for example, be coaching women through redundancy and helping them rethink their career goals and discover their true passion, but 'career coach' doesn't do you justice; you're so much more. So how do you define what you do and reach the clients that need you? It's vital to find the words that get your core message across to make you stand out from the rest of your market.
And there are so many things to get wrong in your marketing material. Maybe your business card lists every single skill and service you offer, instead of focusing on the important one or summing them all up in one phrase. Perhaps your online presence doesn't match up to what you say about your line of work in person. Or you have three different personas on social media, making your professional reputation hard to pin down. Whatever the case the net result is that you're not known for the one thing that counts - the service you want people to pay you for. Potential clients don't know how to find you because they're unaware that you exist, or utterly confused about what exactly you do. So the unique and useful expertise that you long to share with the world is failing to reach its mark.
And this is a shame. Because if that expertise is incredibly useful to a particular market, the people that need you aren't finding you. Which makes getting on their radar and standing out from the rest a bit important. Otherwise you're just another random 'expert' - one of thousands, nothing special, lost in the crowd.
So if you're finding this 'how to describe what I do' thing a struggle, here are a few things to bear in mind when you're crafting your core business message:
Who are your clients?
What is their need?
What is your unique expertise?
What is the benefit of what you do?
Example: "I'm a communications expert and I help female entrepreneurs define their USP and craft their core marketing message. So they become famous for what they do and their ideal clients start queuing up to work with them".
This post and others appear on my blog at marinagask.com.