A disingenuous, people-third solution sure to sabotage your success
Updated: Mar 12
Sound funny? It’s nearly as ridiculous as what you do see:
Leveraging world-class customer service, our innovative team strives to maintain a purpose-driven commitment to excellence.
It’s almost as if businesses are clamoring to conceal what they do and who they can help. When did being clear on why your business exists become tantamount to admitting you took in a tantalizing cabaret over your lunch break?
Our people-first approach harmonizes global partnerships to support the success of our customers.
In face-to-face conversation, we use very different words to explain the reason why we are in business. But when looking at a blinking cursor, we become “problem solvers,” purveyors of the all-mighty “solutions,” or a “partner in success.” Suddenly, we are all back in 7th grade trying to find the showiest, most unnecessary word to kick off our essay - simply to gloat to our friends.
You want your business to scream how you’re able to help your dream customer. It’s typically referred to as your “value proposition.” It’s the 1-3 sentences that precisely pinpoints what you do and inspires your customer to want to do business with you. Unfortunately, this very important statement is often collaboratively crafted by a round-table of jargonators trying to out-pretentious one another. Ultimately, the group ends up with a showy word wall concealing the very reason why the business exists.
Don’t let that be you! Here are 3 ways you can de-jargon your value proposition and really start attracting the right customers to your business.
Take off your gloaty goody two-shoes
What did Pascal say? “I would’ve written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time?” It feels easier to pack your value proposition full of self-aggrandizing sentiment than it is to be clear and concise. Filling the precious real estate of your value proposition with people-centric and passionate about customer service might “feel good,” but ultimately it is a waste of space.
We generally expect most businesses to be in the business of helping us in some regard. Even the most evil business wouldn’t dare say they put people twelfth and strive to steal your money. Vague, goody two-shoe phrases might fill your team with sunshine and rainbows, but they do nothing to differentiate you from the next option.
Instead of hiding your real point of difference behind stagnant staples of convoluted core values - why don’t you dare to define the purpose you represent?
Domino’s doesn’t just say they are committed to customer service. They don’t stop at claiming their order accuracy is a point of pride. Instead, they debuted a Delivery Insurance program that promises expedited delivery when orders arrive cold or incorrect. They go the extra step of describing how exactly they intend to save your pizza night no matter what.
Be human! (if you are one)
Imagine a close friend brings along a colleague for your weekly happy hour. The new acquaintance asks what you do for a living. You take a sip of a crisp and refreshing IPA and explain how you “leverage innovative solutions to face the growing, ever-changing technological challenges of modern society.” This guy is either going to leave or laugh in your face.
Instead, you say something like “I work for a company that makes the highest temperature-resistant sheathing to eliminate electrical fires on airplanes.” Suddenly, the guy knows exactly what you do. Turns out he knows the woman who leads the engineering team at a big aerospace company currently pursued by your sales team.
Why do businesses insist on using their websites and print materials to speak a completely different language specializing in stuffiness? Push through the urge to chock your digital content full of robotic language and instead talk like you would to your dream customer.
Make your business the “cool table” for your target market
Everyone else simply can’t sit with you.
Stop for a moment and think about a cherished hobby, or even a problem that afflicts your daily life. Don’t your eyes light up when someone is talking about something you’re passionate about? If someone mentions a solution to a grating issue you are experiencing, you immediately start digging in your pockets for your wallet.
People are most willing to hand over their money when they feel a business understands their most important cares or problems. So why do businesses continue to insist on claiming they’re able to help everyone?
A common conversation I have with clients starts with “trying to talk to everyone leaves you talking to no one.” Casting a wide net sounds appealing, but just as specialized bait can attract the right fish, the words you choose are what attracts the right customers. It’s when we can talk to very specific needs that our words take on the most power.
Why say you are a “provider of innovative tax solutions,” when you can say “we help small businesses in Kenosha, Wisconsin maximize their tax return—even if your books are a mess!”? Non-Kenosha residents can move on to the next firm, while you’ve positioned your firm as the go-to expert for flustered locals with no idea how to keep their books organized.
SaaS companies are notorious for constantly claiming they can help any-and-all online business. How they differentiate from one another comes down to a few ticks on a comparison chart that nobody has time to decode. They love revolutionizing, being fast and nimble, and solving the problems of today’s fast-moving workplace. What they don’t love doing is pinpointing their target market in punch-packing short statements.
An example of a job well done comes from Pastel. They clearly explain what problem they are trying to solve and pinpoint the group of people it can best help.
If you’re a freelance designer or developer, their product strikes a chord and has you praising the high heavens. Finally - somebody that has come up with a way to organize and streamline client feedback! This is the “cool table” for you - a company who understands your specific needs and lets another one deal with somebody else’s problems.
Go boldly where no business has gone before! Put down the thesaurus and resist the urge to translate your real voice into text book robot-speak. You’ll be surprised by the big changes that can happen in your business just by explaining yourself to the right customer in a clear, concise, and personable way.