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Do Your Customers Understand What You Really Do?

Date Icon Apr 09, 2024
Author Icon Bill Fasig

At every party you’ll ever attend, someone will inevitably ask you, “So, what do you do?” 

Depending on your answer, you can keep the conversation going (if you are enjoying the other person’s company) or end it abruptly (for the close talker, a quick "I’m in sales” will do).

When your customers are seeking a solution to their problem, they’re asking your brand the same question - with an added caveat: “So, what is it you actually do? How will it benefit me?”

Ideally, unlike many awkward party conversations, you want to keep the conversation going with potential customers and convince them to choose you as their solution. To do this you will need a clear, concise, and engaging answer that speaks directly to the benefits and value that your customers receive from you. 

Here are some thoughts on how to best do this.



Defining What You Do

What you do is a foundational element of your brand story.  

At TopRight, we believe there are three foundational elements of your brand story: why, what, and how. If you cannot clearly articulate why your brand exists (beyond “making a profit” or the ever elusive “creating shareholder value”), we highly recommend setting this blog aside for now and starting with the first blog in this series, “Why Do You Do What You Do?” Because unless you know your why, your what won’t actually matter. 

We define what you do as the set of overall solutions you offer that delivers direct impact, value, and specific outcomes and benefits to your customer. How is your customer’s life better, how has their world changed, and in what way, after purchasing your product or engaging with your services?  

There are two kinds of benefits your customers can receive (and ideally, they should receive both): functional benefits and emotional benefits.  

Functional benefits are the business-related results that speak to your customer’s logical mind. As an example, when we partnered with material engineering firm SWM to revive their brand story, it was clear they relied on functional benefits to connect with their customers. SWM delivered stronger, better, and cleaner physical materials for their customers’ engineering needs, resulting in the production of high-quality products. But, in a complex and highly competitive and sometimes commoditized market, this was not enough to create true customer loyalty to the SWM brand. We needed to identify the emotional benefits their customers were receiving.

Emotional benefits and emotional impact speak to a customer’s heart. While these benefits may be more intangible, they speak and connect directly to the emotive side of how your customer not just thinks but feels and acts. These are the benefits a customer may not immediately, consciously identify as something they know they need. But in fact, at a deeper level, it is what ultimately helps them feel connected to you as a brand.  

At SWM, we found their "what" to be much more than simply the high-quality materials that they sell that make their customers' products better; they were making a real difference for people around the world because of the quality of the materials they sell that then enabled their customers to do things, to build things, to provide solutions, they could not have otherwise done. For example, SWM’s medical device fixation solutions literally helped people sleep better, and their fiber optic cables allowed people to remain connected around the world. Sleeping well, resting well, staying connected globally. These are much bigger ideas that deliver much bigger impact and value than simply the commodity of better materials. This is what speaks to the emotive side of the equation.

If SWM’s customers could understand how their products were making a difference, they could feel inspired by the innovative work, confident in the quality of the product they were receiving, and ultimately knew that they could make and deliver better products and services for their customers that would speak to these deeper needs and benefits. And from the SWM perspective, their customers would know that SWM didn’t just produce the highest quality engineering materials, clearly a value in its own right, but they actually helped make their world a world a better place because of what they did.

Developing a Clear, Concise, and Engaging Statement

In this case, after we established these functional and emotional benefits, we developed the following “what is it you actually do” statement for SWM as part of our brand story development process:

SWM harnesses the true power of engineering to solve difficult problems enabling innovation and advancement that make products safer, cleaner, stronger, healthier…. better.

This statement evokes both functional and emotional benefits, while also meeting three key standards: 

  1. It’s clear. 
  2. It’s concise. 
  3. It’s engaging.

When answering, “So, what do you do?”, it is common to overcomplicate things, especially if you are a complex organization or operate in a complex market. You may unintentionally give long and convoluted answers that can cause customers to simply not want to fight through the answers to care and listen. Or you might run the other route and oversimplify your answer to only the functional product benefits or the technical product marketing language of your product that denies the opportunity to engage your customers on a deeper level. 

Be clear. Use language your customer will understand and would even use themselves. Keep it simple and easy for any employee at your company to repeat. 

Be concise. Stay at a high level of the solution(s) that you offer that deliver the highest value or impact for your customers. You don’t need to go into all the details...yet. The time will come when your customer needs to go deeper, but this isn’t it. 

Be engaging. If you’re not excited about what you do, about why it is that it truly matters at the deepest emotive level, your customer will know. Let your brand’s personality, power and impact show through!

The Power of a Strong Brand Story 

Developing a strong “what is it you actually do” statement is only one element of a strong brand story. It’s important, but it is not enough on its own.

We continued working with SMW to develop their full brand story by uncovering their purpose, understanding how they deliver their solutions, and arriving at our signature Six Second Story. Once this process was complete, SWM implemented their improved brand story across their organization. As a result, SMW was able to help their customers better understand the solutions they had to offer, why they truly mattered at the emotive level of impact and outcome, and how to differentiate themselves within their market, significantly improve their earnings, and ultimately have a more successful exit when the company sold.  

If you’re ready to establish a brand story that gets results, partner with us. Through our proven brand story development process, we’ll help you uncover what you really do and set your brand up for success. 


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