By Andrew Frazier

Most people can’t tell their business’s story concisely, even if they’ve been in business for years. But in our sound-bite world, this has become ever more important. To improve your marketing, create a 60-second commercial about your business–even if you never air or publish it online. It will help you better articulate your value proposition.

During initial meetings with my clients, I ask them to “take sixty seconds and tell me about your business.” I follow up by saying, “Please take another sixty seconds and tell me again.” From there, I ask, “Did the two stories match?” If not, that’s a problem because it’s critical to have consistent content so that people will recognize you in the marketplace.

My second question is, “When you started, what was the first thing you said? Were you talking about yourself?” Your goal in the first five to 10 seconds is to make a connection with your audience. That’s because most people listen to the radio station WIFM (What’s in it for me?). Did you speak to their wants, needs, or desires? If not, you risked them shutting down and not really hearing what you’re saying.

For example, if I said, “Hi, my name is Andrew Frazier, president and CEO of Running Your Small Business Like a Pro, and I really love business. I graduated from MIT and went to business school at NYU. I used to be an officer in the Navy–blah, blah, blah…” Would that make you want to listen?  However, if I said, “The key to small business success is generally to do the opposite of what large businesses do. After working with more than 250 entrepreneurs and small business owners, I’ve seen many patterns and developed a methodology that will help them overcome obstacles and be more successful.” Now, don’t you want to hear the rest of what I have to say? It’s important to have a customer-centered approach to how you communicate about your business. This is one of the best ways to improve your marketing and selling success. I recommend developing a 60-second commercial using the following four-step process:

Step 1: Create the Need

Use facts to create an emotional connection. Potential customers want to know that you understand what they need. By using facts, you can identify their problem or challenge and demonstrate an understanding of their specific need, want, or desire. In the case of life insurance, few people walk around thinking about purchasing it. Then, how are insurance agents able to get people to buy? They use facts, such as having the person think about what happens when one member of a couple dies. “Have you ever been at a wake where the family had to pass the hat to cover the costs of the funeral?” After hearing that information, the person will think about life insurance as something they may need.

Step 2: Introduce Your Solution

Explain your solution to address the challenge and explain what differentiates you from the competition. For example, again in the case of life insurance, the agent indicates that “As an independent agent, I offer life insurance policies from all the major companies, ensuring that people get the best products and pricing possible.”

Step 3: Provide an Example

Help the person visualize themselves benefiting from your solution through someone else’s experience, like “My client, John Smith, passed away last month at the age of 42. During his family’s time of need, I brought his wife, Mary, a check for $1 million to maintain their lifestyle and ensure that the kids, Lisa and Tommy, can still go to college.”

Step 4: Strong Close with a Soft Ask

Open the door to start a conversation, and develop a relationship with potential customers.  For example, in the insurance situation, the agent might say, “While that was an unfortunate situation, think how much worse it would have been if John hadn’t sat down with me and obtained the coverage he needed?”

In 30 seconds, you probably went from not even thinking about life insurance to wondering if you have enough. How would you respond? Your response will be telling because the agent is seeking to start a conversation and gauge your interest. This gives him or her an opportunity to pre-sell, increasing the likelihood of obtaining an appointment and making a sale.

This format makes it easy to ensure that your pitch is all about the potential client — not about you:

  1. By creating the need, it lets them know that you understand and care
  2. Providing a solution lets them see what you know
  3. Giving an example creates an emotional bond
  4. The strong close with a soft ask helps you determine if they’re a prospect.

Andrew Frazier, MBA, CFA, SBP is the president of A&J Mgmt and Business Pro @ Small Business Like A Pro ( in New Jersey. He helps small businesses owners grow revenue, increase profitability and obtain financing through coaching, consulting, and training services.  He is also the author of Running Your Small Business Like A Pro Because the More You Know, the Faster You Grow.

Business story stock photo by garagestock/Shutterstock