It’s a simple question–but one that many companies aren’t able to answer.
Who, Not What
When presented with the question “Who are you?” companies((or, to be more specific, their staff)) will respond with comments about their product. Maybe they’ll talk about their location or their place in the market. That’s not who they are, that’s what they are. When someone asks “Who is that woman?” you don’t respond with “She’s a 34-year-old investment banker from Chicago” you say “She’s my wife, Anna. Let me introduce you.”
The latter gives so much more information–especially when you add in the non-verbal subtext: a smile, a change in your voice, a brightening in your eyes, a squaring of your shoulders that says “This is an amazing woman and I’m lucky to be hers.” It’s those subtle and important details that give people the information that they’re looking for.
It’s Not Just a Question
When we ask “Who are you?” or “What does your company do?” we’re looking for more than a simple answer. We’re asking “Should I be interested in you? Do I need you? Can I trust you? What will you do for me?” If your only answer is “We’re a widget maker from Toledo”, you’ve said nothing. On the other hand, you don’t want to push things too far in the other direction and say “We’re the company that can make all your dreams come true”.
Finding Your Voice
Every interaction your company has with someone–client, vendor, or press–tells them who you are. Your company, through its various outlets and employees, is revealing itself to all of those people. Too often, companies think that all those different listeners should be addressed differently. After all, a materials supplier isn’t the same as an end user.
Except… they are.
You will, of course, say different things to different people. Your vendors want to know about technical details, while your end users want to know about all the wonderful things your product can do. So, the details of the discussions will be different. But how you say things needs to remain the same.
The Magic 3
As with so many things, the basics of communication can be broken down into 3 parts: Message, Voice, and Tone.
This short series of posts will address each one of these parts separately. While they are all part of the whole, they are separate enough to be deserve their own post.