What does your business do?

What does your business do, and what language do you use to describe it? OK, so this is a bit of an unusual blogpost for an IT Support company.  It would definitely fit in more with a marketing agency or a consultant that helps businesses to grow.  However, I thought it was interesting, so I wrote a blogpost about it!  This post is all about talking to people, using the right language, and context, to make sure that they understand what you are talking about.  It seems like an odd conversation but let me explain. 

So, this morning, for one reason or another, I was getting a Taxi/Cab to work.  The driver was a lovely chap and perky for such an ungodly hour (it was 6.45am) and we had conversations about various bits and pieces.  Eventually, we got onto the topic of what work I did and why I was heading to work so early.  When I explained what we did, the conversation took a turn for the more awkward and I thought it was worth writing it down, to help me to work out what went wrong.

What does ESP do?

OK, so after being asked what we did, I didn’t think about it for a second, I literally answered him straight away by saying “we are an IT provider” – words I intentionally used thinking they were simple.  He sat for a few seconds and didn’t respond.  No nodding of his head, no smiling, nothing.  He just sat there looking very blank and continued driving.  I didn’t say anything as I didn’t really know what to add to the conversation.  Eventually, he said to me “I don’t know what you mean”.  Then I sat there and thought about it for a few seconds myself and I was thinking “what does he mean, I don’t know what you mean?”.  I was quite perplexed that someone didn’t understand what an IT Provider was, but I already knew from the conversations that we had already had between us, that he wasn’t an idiot, far from it – he was clearly a well-educated person.  So, I set about trying to explain what an IT Provider is.  As I went through explaining all the different things that we do for our customers, I found myself getting deeper and deeper into complexed words and phrases that were in no-way helping him to understand any better.

ESP Logo - IT Support Sheffield

I was talking about helpdesk and technical support and installation of equipment, software development and other products that we offered.  All the while, he was getting a more and more perplexed look on his face.  I stopped talking, probably part way through a sentence to be honest.  I left a silence for a couple of seconds.  I’d been talking for maybe only 1 or 2 minutes, but it felt like a long time!  Then he said to me “OK, so I think I get it, but don’t laugh at me if I get it wrong” I obviously responded by saying that I wouldn’t.  And so he said;

“You look after computers for business owners”

I felt absolutely humiliated.  Whilst I’ve never been skilled at all in marketing – it’s definitely one of my weakest areas, I didn’t realise how bad I was at the fundamental part of it – what does your business do?  He’d managed in just 7 words, to explain to me, better than I’ve EVER explained to anyone, what ESP does.  In just 7 words and worked out how to say them in just a few minutes.  Let that sink in.  Now I’m not saying that it’s the best strap line, or the best way to sell our services, but he had explained in VERY simple terms, what we do.

The conversation got better.  After feeling humiliated (and I’m sure I was as red as a tomato too), I started to feel relieved.  I now knew, what we do and how to explain it to potential customers.  But then he said, “why do you do it?”.  I thought for a few seconds of a way to answer his question in simple terms, but before I could get to the answer, he answered his own question by saying “I guess because either they don’t know how to or more likely because they don’t want to”.  I responded by of course saying that he had hit the nail on the head, and we had a laugh about how simple it was what my business does, but he hadn’t understood it at the beginning.  I explained that it was my fault that he didn’t understand it and said I wished I could articulate things as simply as he does.  I’ll reiterate the best bit (as I see it) of his own self-answer.

“Because they don’t want to”

I got out of the car at this stage and went about the rest of my day, but it really got me thinking.  Could I explain what he does and why he does it?  And my answer was.

“He drives people around, because they can’t drive themselves” (or don’t want to).  Could this be done so simply with other products and services that businesses offer?  I thought about plumbers “They fix boilers, because you can’t”, Farmers “They grow food, because you can’t be bothered”.  It got me thinking that, in the main, businesses exist to provide services for one of two main reasons. 

  1. Because someone (or a business) doesn’t know how to do something and doesn’t want to spend the time learning how to do it themselves (ie the don’t WANT to do something)
  2. Because someone CAN’T do something for one reason or another

It made me really think about our own services here at ESP.  Which camp are we in? Well, the answer to that is probably both.  Some of our customers COULD learn how to do what we do for them, but it would cost them a lot of time, money, or both.  Others COULDN’T learn how to do some of the things we do for them as they’re not the right type of organisation to buy the services from higher up the chain and so on.  It seems such a simple way to look at things, but on reflection, it’s probably pretty accurate for 90% of businesses (or even more).

What does all of this mean?

Well, I think it means that marketing is a lot simpler than I thought!  It’s really about explaining what you do as a business and why you do it.  If you can answer those two questions and articulate the answers well enough and simply enough, hopefully everyone will understand it and customers will be easier to come by.  If they think you understand them from the moment they come into contact with your business, then surely, you’ll have a better chance of winning them as a customer, right?  My honest answer is that I don’t know if that is right, but I’m sure as hell going to try to find out!

So, What does ESP do?

We look after computers for business owners, because they don’t want to!

I’ll be working with our marketing team and other members of staff over the coming weeks to bring these simpler messages to life on our website and on our other marketing materials.  If you like what we are about as a business, don’t hesitate to book an appointment using the button below.