No business can exist without a product or a service, but it is so surprising how often people new to business have no idea what their product or service is.
That’s bonkers right? When you walk into an Apple store, you expect the staff to know that they sell MacBooks, iPhones, iPads and other accessories right? You also expect them to have the information and means to be able to sell it to you, am I correct?
When designing and building a website, I see it like building a shop of sorts. Someone is going to land on it and will want to know: what are you selling (what do you do) and how can I buy it? So this is also one of the first questions I have to ask and I expect clear information about it. But this is where so many clients have struggled.
So I am here to help you out with that.
It is not enough to say “I am a chef”, “I am a yoga teacher”, “I am a lightworker”. All of these are very vague concepts and as your friend I am very happy for you, but I have no information or reason to book your services. Most people won’t bother asking what that means, so how will it ever turn into a business opportunity?
On a more soulful level, I also want you to stop looking at yourself as a label. It’s too easy to hide behind it. It puts you in a box and people make all kinds of assumptions about it that could be incorrect. It also doesn’t sound unique or interesting so it’s not going to help you generate business opportunities.
How many times I’ve met people and they’ve said “I have the most boring job in the world – I’m an accountant /banker”. And I always say: “The only thing boring about it is how you’ve delivered the information to me”. I don’t think these professions are boring, but they are already bored with it themselves, so they’ve taken away any potential interesting conversation we could have about what they do and projects they are working on.
Although we will cover the topic separately, every conversation you have from now on is a networking opportunity for you. In fact, for most soulful business people who hate the idea of sales, this might be the main way you promote yourself. If you don’t sound interested or clear about what you do then no one else will be either.
Pim is an experienced chef, now retired from her role as head chef in the corporate catering industry. She now teaches cooking classes in her beautiful home and also provides catering for posh dinner parties, delivered to your door. She focuses on her own heritage with Thai cookery but also can teach you how to cook easy-to-make, British nosh as well. The fact that she introduced herself to me as a chef told me nothing of that. Do you see what I’m getting at?
How well do you really know your business and your product/service?
So be honest with yourself, because you will need to figure this out really soon if you don’t already.
It’s ok to change and evolve your business over time, so whatever you say now doesn’t commit you to a business model for life. But you need to start from somewhere and tweak it from there if necessary.
If you have a physical product, it might be easier for you, perhaps you’ve invented a very specific product and now you just need to sell it so you can probably skip the rest of this post. But for many of you, I suggest you put some thought into it.
Let’s bring it to life, I want you to create your own tag line.
Instead of introducing yourself as a job title, flesh it out and make a one-line introduction that encapsulates what you do in a more clear and meaningful way.
Hello, my name is….. and I
Photographer >> I am a photographer specialising in capturing luxury weddings in a relaxed documentary style.
Photographer (alt) >> I capture memories for creative couples wanting an intimate wedding experience in London.
Lightworker >> I work as a Reiki Practitioner with a focus on animal healing and healing for those undergoing cancer treatment.
Yoga Teacher >> I teach Yin Yoga and I offer private classes in your home or have scheduled classes at (this) yoga centre.
Charity Worker >> I run a local charity, helping to ensure all homeless people within the area have something hot to eat and a bed to sleep on every night. In addition we provide support services to help them to return to independent living and the workforce.
Sales Executive >> I help share the best of British (insert type of) products with the world.
Tour Guide/Travel Operator/Resort >> I create unforgettable travel experiences for guests wanting something off the beaten track but also looking for that extra bit of luxury.
There is no right or wrong way of doing it, I’m not here to judge you on it, but the more creative you can get with it, the more you expand the possibilities for yourself. The purpose is to start to really see what you offer from a bigger, more exciting perspective.
Once you’ve had fun with that, you need to define what your exact products and services are.
Imagine this scenario: I’ve met you at a party and you’ve introduced yourself and I love the sound of what you do and I want to do business with you. I want to book you! This is not the time to give me the blank face.
Tell me what exactly are your products/services?
You need to write these down!
With as much detail as possible. If you sell physical products, you need to have your inventory and you can divide these into categories of items.
For both products & services, you need to clarify exactly what are all the options and what people get.
- How many?
- Sizes, colours, shapes, types etc
- What is included in the price?
- What extras/equipment/accessories will I also need to get?
- What experience or prior knowledge is needed?
- How to get it or to it?
- How can I book/buy/order/pay?
Ask for help
So going back to our case study, I asked Pim to define her cooking class packages and menus. She knew that she wanted to teach classes at home but she didn’t necessarily know how to organise the class packages or what kind of things people might want to learn. So she gathered a group of friends, gave them a taster class and invited them to give their thoughts and feedback on every aspect of class offerings. She also had a chance to see how much work and preparation went into the class, the expenses she had to pay for up front and factor into her pricing, and to look at whether her resources were adequate. This helped form a structure around which to organise her ideas.
Do some market research
Use your contacts to do some basic market research. Don’t rely too much on your friends or close family for feedback, because all of it is well meaning but a lot of it may be irrelevant if they are not your ideal clients. Remember that you can ignore any feedback if you wish, you should ultimately use your own judgement, but it really does help to understand and clarify some areas where you perhaps need to put more thought into things.
Some people advise looking closely at the competition – what they do and what they offer. I’d say do this, but as above, do not get too carried away with it. You are never striving to copy others, but it certainly helps to know what is already available to people.
In the next post, we will be looking at KNOWING YOUR IDEAL CLIENTS
You can catch up with the last post in this series here: HOW TO SELL WITHOUT SELLING