“What do you do?”
Such an innocent and curious question! And in the small business world, it’s where so many conversations go horribly wrong.
As the other person starts to answer, a funny thing happens. The conversation starts spinning out of control. Maybe they’re talking too much. Maybe they don’t really know how to answer. Or perhaps they decide, on the spot, to make up and “try out” a new reply they’ve never given before.
In any case, the person who asked the question in the first place goes from curious to confused, and starts looking, desperately, for the door.
Don’t be the business owner who’s confusing the nice, curious people you’re meeting. Here’s a handy guide to the 3 kinds of confusing brands and what to do about each one:
1. The “Talking Too Much” Brand
We’ve all seen this Confusing Brand in action.
When you meet the “Says Too Much” Brand Owner at a networking event, and innocently ask them, “What do you do”… you get back an entire novel!
They tell you all about the dozens of things they can do. Then they tell you their entire personal story. And their plans for the future. They just keep talking and talking!
And you’re wondering… what are they really trying to say? How can they be good at all the things they’re talking about? Are they just desperate for business? And… most importantly… how can I get OUT of this conversation?
You’re not engaged or interested in what they’re saying. They’re talking so much that you can’t even remember where they started. They’re making a terrible first impression. And you’re both wasting your time.
If you’re the “Talks Too Much” Entrepreneur, you need to focus your brand message down to what’s really important, unique and interesting for your ideal client. Be precise and extremely clear with your message. You need to learn how to say enough to create interest, hunger and desire… and then stop there! (I bet you never thought I’d tell you to stop talking about your brand!)
2. The “I Don’t Know” Brand
You’re unsure about what your business is all about, or what you stand for.
You don’t have a really clear picture of who you want to work with (really, you’d work with just about anyone who’d pay you!). You know you want great clients in your dream business but don’t know exactly what that means to you!
You don’t know what to do or say in your brand or your marketing. You spend a lot of time thinking about what to write or stressing about what to say.
You may spend a lot of time looking at other peoples’ marketing “just to get ideas” or modeling other peoples’ messages or programs instead of creating your own stuff and getting it out there.
You may even try to find a mentor to give you an idea – or even ask them to just tell you what to do. The problem with that is that then you’re running your business based on someone else’s vision, which you may not clearly understand, yourself – and your clients can see right through that. You’ll look fake and phony!
You need to figure out what’s really important and unique about what you do. You need to answer those questions for yourself and own it with confidence so that you can express what their business is all about.
3. The “Reinventing The Wheel” Brand
You’re constantly trying out different things in their brand. Reinventing the wheel.
This is the most exhausting kind of Confusing Brand to have.
You keep changing your message, your offerings, your services, and your title. You change their web site over and over again.
You’re reinventing the wheel because you aren’t deeply committed to what you’ve been doing. You don’t feel like you’ve found “your thing” yet.
You know that you’re supposed to be launching products and marketing things, and you need to make money… so you just keep making up new stuff as you go along.
You feel like nothing’s working. You keep trying so hard and not seeing results. People never seem to buy the stuff you put out there.
And you’re so tired from coming up with new stuff all the time! You’re a little burnt out and crispy around the edges.
To get clear, you need to make a commitment. To put your stake in the ground and claim your space. To choose one direction to go in, make a plan and stick with it for success.
If you confuse your clients or yourself when you try to answer the question, “What do you do?”, then you’ll have a harder time getting clients, doing your marketing and making money. Figure out what kind of Confused Brand you are today and start getting clear now!
Erin Ferree is a brand strategist and designer. She works with small businesses to create brands with substance and style that fit their businesses perfectly.
She’s designed brands for hundreds of small business all over the world. Her brands help her clients attract their ideal clients, outshine their competition and make them unforgettable. She also works with small business owners to develop complete clarity about their brand positioning and to develop total brand clarity.
Her award-winning design work and her writing on design have been published in many books and periodicals.