March 7, 2021

Responsive Propositions and How to Use Them

Dr Peter Mowforth

“Tell me about your business …. So, what is it that you do?”

It’s such a simple question. What’s remarkable is that so many business owners along with their own marketing materials often do a poor job when communicating the answer.

The answer to “what is it that you do?” is called your proposition and, like any kind of good answer, this needs to be articulated with different levels of detail depending on the circumstances. This ranges from an answer that’s short and snappy through to a paragraph’s worth that contains all the important keywords that connect you and what you do with every one of your potential customers. Getting this right will help unlock more sales.The key point here is to understand the appropriate size or scale for the answer. With the content designed to perfectly fill a required space such as a three second gap in a conversation or 140 characters of text.The question could have been asked by somebody whose job it is to try to come up with a marketing strapline for the business. For them they are looking for something that can be rendered in just a few words that gets across the key essence of what the brand is about. Examples for a few big brands brands include:

  • ‘Never knowingly undersold’ [John Lewis]
  • ‘Because you’re worth it’ [L’Oréal]
  • ‘Just do it’ [Nike]

These work fine for an audience that has heard of the brand where you can get away with a rather general and esoteric message. For smaller less-known brands it’s much better to just use a no-nonsense statement that says what you do. Examples of no-nonsense straplines could be:

  • ‘Painters and decorators’
  • ‘Premium ladder manufacturers’
  • ‘Fruit and vegetable wholesalers’

The next issue concerns the number of words you provide. Providing content at an appropriate level of detail and scale is commonly referred to as being ‘responsive’. We already have responsive websites and responsive logos  that adjust to the usable space that’s available. Responsive propositions is just an obvious next step in developing your marketing assets.Ask somebody from INDEZ “so, what do you do?”.  The initial short answer would be “Ecommerce Excellence”. A good short answer should be one that encourages somebody with an interest in the topic to ask more.

The best initial answer would be one that you could say in just a couple of seconds using words that the recipient would understand and in a way that clearly (and compellingly) articulates what you do. If done well, it should not be a sign-off where the recipient would say “Fine” and then changes the subject. The short and punchy articulation should also encourage the recipient to say “Um … that’s interesting … tell me more”.This will then lead you to being able to say more about what you do, how you do it, with which clients and why your business is clearly the best. The context here is that subtle ‘selling’ is something that can permeate much of your dialogue with others which in turn will make you more successful as a business person. If it’s done well then each level of scale should lead to the next and more detailed answer to the “what do you do” question.While creative human-generated content is important, remember to include information gleaned from keyword marketing tools (ref) or a thesaurus (ref).In our experience, the more comprehensive and detailed answers frequently need to be revisited and revised to keep them optimally topical and relevant.The final point is that once you have produced this multi-scale responsive proposition, you need to discuss and share it with every customer facing person in your business. Having everyone buying into the same marketing messages and communicating a shared and common proposition will help make you and your company come across as much more professional.

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