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If you must take a deep breath and settle in for a long chat every time you try to describe your company, or if you start your description with something like, “Well, it’s complicated…” you are not alone! Many companies, especially technology and B2B companies, haven’t yet homed in on a single description of what they do.

Why it’s so hard to answer “what does your company do?”

It’s not that you don’t know what your company does, it’s just hard to explain in a simple way. In fact, it may feel like the more you know about the company’s services, strategies, and goals, the harder it is to answer the question without becoming bogged down.

One of the biggest mistakes B2B companies with complex business offerings make is over-customizing how they describe their company based on who they’re talking to.

That may seem surprising. Isn’t marketing all about targeting and knowing your audience? Yes, when it comes to marketing your services. But for building brand awareness, consistency reigns supreme.

Every brand strategy exercise begins with determining a company’s target audiences. Before you can write a good company description, you need to know who you’re talking to. But for many B2B companies, the list of audiences they need to communicate effectively with is long. An online services company selling into the healthcare industry, for example, may be marketing to a variety of decision makers in different verticals like hospitals and doctor’s offices. Add in consumers, partners, and investors, and you have a long and varied list.

The tendency in these companies can be to use different company descriptions with each audience. But be careful. Having lots of different answers to “what does your company do?” floating around can cause confusion and hinder a company’s efforts to build brand awareness and attract customers.

Shouldn’t we have different messages for different audiences so we can address what is important to them?

Absolutely. You don’t want to just talk about yourself in general and leave potential customers to figure out how they fit in. But every company should start with a single high-level description of the company and some company-wide messages to use for everyone. This is just the beginning. From there you can branch into different, more specific messages based on audience type and service or product line.

There are (at least) three reasons this is so important.

  1. Your audiences don’t live in boxes. They live in the real world where they interact with different people, play a variety of roles, and search out information in their own ways. If you have different descriptions of your company out there, chances are high that they will encounter them. After visiting a landing page written just for them, they may choose to explore other parts of your website. You won’t always be able to control what “version” of you they see.
  2. People learn and remember by repetition. They need to hear or read the same thing over and over (seven times according to the famous marketing “Rule of Seven”) before they can internalize it. The more descriptions of your company they hear, the less likely they are to remember any one of them.
  3. Your employees need it. Ideally, everyone in your company, regardless of their role, can be an “ambassador” for your brand. Having a simple, compelling and easy to remember description of your company that can be used by anyone, in any circumstance is a great tool to help them reinforce your brand.

Describing your company in the same way over and over can feel boring or unoriginal. But if you feel like you’ve said the same thing so many times you could do it in your sleep, you’re doing it right!

If you need a partner to help strengthen your brand, please contact us to see if we might be a good fit. During our 20 years in business, Aukema & Associates has focused on building strong B2B brands – including developing brand strategies, positioning statements and messaging platforms, and developing and implementing robust communications plans. Aukema & Associates has helped many organizations hone their messages, then communicate in compelling ways to inform, educate and inspire their target audiences. Can we help you?