It is often referred to as Marketing's Moment of Truth. I prefer to refer to it as Marketing's Moment of Fear. The question that you dread is the, "so what do you do" question.

You can prolong it, you can protract the process, and you may profusely delay your answer. Or you can be proactive and learn how to answer the question in a way that moves you forward.

 You get the question at networking events, your child's soccer game, from the passenger next to you on the ever-shrinking airplane seat. It is especially important if you are a start-up company.

This question is similar to objections in the sales process. If you know you are going to be asked specific questions, how can you not be prepared? How can you not work to own the answer?

Do you spend your time putting off answering this question rather than spending your time to answer it in a way that you can lay claim to the answer?

Grow this phrase and you'll always have a quick, focused response to This Moment of Fear.

Following is a five-step process to help you answer this question in an effective 21st century manner:

1. Stop - Analyze How You Currently Answer the Question

Do you talk about what you do, or the result of what you do? Listen to how you answer the, "what do you do question". It will be helpful for you to write down your answer. Do you talk about how long your company has been in business, or how long you have been in your company or in the industry? Do you talk about what you do?

2. Study the Best

Listen to how others answer the same question. Which answers do you think are more effective, which answers move the process forward? Study those companies who have crafted 30 seconds for their product or service that meet this question in a way that kills their competition.

Coca Cola: To refresh a thirsty world

McDonald's: To be the world's leading food service organization

And my favorite Revlon: We sell hope

These companies have spent millions of dollars on this process, and we can all learn from them. Do you see how these sound bites talk about the end result of the product not the features?

Revlon does not talk about the quality of the make-up, how long it lasts, what it is or is not made of, nor the price. This sentence talks about the benefit of the product: Hope. What is the hope of your product or service?

3. Leave Process-ville, Move to Result-ville

After you study how the best companies answer this question, you will see a common thread. The most effective way to answer this question is to leave behind your desire to talk about "the process". Process talks about what you do. You want to move from Process-ville to Result-ville where you talk about the result of what you do.

Example of Process-ville: I'm an accountant
Example of Result-ville: I help clients have more money every April 15

4. Answer How You Change Someone's Life or Make it Better

In our society we value "difference". When we invest our time or money, we want to be different in some way. Imagine that you had a toothache. You go to the dentist and when you come home, you still have a toothache. Do you feel as though you got your money's worth?

Craft your answer to marketing's moment of fear in a way that changes someone's life or makes it better: refreshes, fills dreams, catapults, transforms, dramatically grows, increases productivity.

5. Do It In 7 words

Incorporate your key benefits in SEVEN words. Your challenge is to capture the essence of what you have to offer, create interest and enthusiasm for it, and enhance your image in the business world.

Articulate your value proposition in seven words or less. It will be easier for you to remember and to be remembered.

To meet and exceed Marketing's Moment of Fear is simple. Not easy. But simple. It is a journey. Your journey may take 5 days, 5 months, or 5 years to perfect a reply that propels you to truly own the answer.

It is a journey, and the measure is not if you are there yet. The measure is if you have started to place the correct pieces in your luggage.


Leslie Ungar, President and Communications Coach at Electric Impulse Communications, is on a mission to make companies and individuals realize their untapped potential and set them on course to achieve that top-notch performance level which is, electrifying. Leslie also hosts the Time/Warner TV show Forum 360 in addition to often being quoted in regional and national media. Electric Impulse Communications Inc., established in 1998, has become a pre-eminent source for coaching, consulting and confidence building in the executive and business worlds. 


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