Since my career as a COBOL programmer started in the US Marines in 1991, I’ve had difficulty telling people what I do. It’s been even more challenging as a freelance web developer. Didn’t know what a positioning statement was back then.
Explaining computer programming or systems analysis was tricky in 2010. In 1997 nobody I knew outside of work understood my job.
What do you say when people ask what you do?
“What do you do?” can be a tricky question for many freelancers, consultants, and creative service professionals.
I’ve heard many responses to the question, and you can group them into categories.
Monologues. Long responses that may lose your audience’s attention. I’m guilty of doing this. “Well, I’m a website developer, but I do Internet Marketing, and I can build you custom web applications, bla bla bla.”
It’s like telling your whole life story at the beginning of a first date.
General statements. “I’m an Internet Marketer,” “I’m a Graphic Designer, “I do photography.”
References to tools or skills. “I’m a copywriter,” “I do Photoshop work,” “I produce videos,” and “I manage social media accounts.”
People give various answers, and most freelancers or consultants use a different response each time they meet someone.
The answer to what you do is to create a positioning statement.
A positioning statement is a brief and condensed expression of what you do, whom you do it for, and why it’s valuable to them.
Your positioning statement focuses on how your product or service fulfills a specific need of your target market. You capture this focus in a brief statement.
Creating this positioning statement aims to align your marketing efforts with your core business values, your brand, and your value proposition.
Think of it as a marketing technique to make your business stand out in the daily noise your prospects experience. Use it in your ads, web pages, emails, and marketing materials.
Use it to answer the question, “What do you do?”
How do you write a positioning statement?
Start with a template if thinking of something out of the blue is hard.
“I’m a (what you do) who helps (target prospect/market) with (problem).”
Here are a couple of examples.
“I’m a web developer who helps dance instruction studios with custom web portals.”
“I’m a marketing specialist who helps SaaS brands find influencers for lead generation campaigns.”
You can add to the end, “Unlike my competition, who (what your competition does wrong).”
Like this, “I’m a writer who creates unique content and strategy for course creators. Unlike my competition, who uses overseas writers and no strategy.”
You can create a positioning statement for a product or service only.
Here’s the template.
(what you do) helps (target prospect/market) with (problem).
Here’s an example of a productized service I had.
“SEO Content Checkup helps SaaS automation providers uncover content strategy opportunities to move ahead of the competition.”
You want this statement to trigger a “Rolodex-moment” for people. They immediately think of people who may need the service when you say it.
You’d say a version of your positioning statement if you’re at a party.
Be specific and avoid jargon. “Results-driven” is vague. “Build mobile apps” and “Deliver qualified leads” are precise.
Focus on the result or outcome you provide: more leads, clients, improved website, more popular podcast.
Add a unique difference, your unique selling proposition but shortened.
Avoid saying how you do something. It adds too much.
One benefit only. Not, “I’m a marketing strategist who acquires leads and generates more revenue for Insurance agents” Either more leads or revenue, not both.
Create a statement using the template or formula and the tips above. Get something on paper. Refine over time.
Once you have a positioning statement, create Jobs to Be Done.
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