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Mary Ellen Bates
Bates Information Services, Inc.
8494 Boulder Hills Dr.
Niwot, Colorado 80503 USA
Tel: 303.772.7095
[email protected]
Skype: Mary.Ellen.Bates
by Mary Ellen Bates
Bates Information Services
What You Do vs. Why You're In Business

I recently attended the annual conference of AIIP, the Association of Independent Information Professionals. As always, I came home with some great ideas on new marketing strategies, different ways of viewing my business, and a fresh perspective on work.

One of the traditions of the AIIP conference is for everyone to give a 30-second introduction. I was struck by the difference in how people introduced themselves. Some people focused on describing what they do and others described why their clients would call them.

When you're asked, "so, what do you do?" do you answer that literally, by telling someone what you do? Is your answer some version of "I find the best, most reliable information for business marketers" - something that tells the listener what actions you take? Or does your answer focus on why your clients use you?

The intros I heard that focused on what clients value rather than what their business does all started out the same:

"I help my clients..."

  • increase market share
  • gain insights to assess their market
  • minimize risk
  • know who they are dealing with
  • make better decisions

Not one of those intros talked about what the AIIP member does or how she does it - they focused on the outcome, of what clients pay her for and what clients value.

Jan Davis, an AIIP colleague and long-time business owner, once commented that her best marketing messages came from asking her clients how they describe her to someone else. Brilliant! A client isn't going to say "Oh, I call Jan because she has access to sophisticated online databases"; they will talk about what value Jan offers... what Jan can do for them that no one else can.

When you're talking about your business to someone, are you focusing on yourself (I do this, I do that) or are you focusing on your client (I help you accomplish your goals)?

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