It seems like a simple question – What do you sell?

But you’d be surprised how many small business owners can’t quickly and compellingly describe what they sell. For many, they know and understand their product, but have a hard time describing its value to outsiders.

Is that true for you?

You know that if the customer you’re trying to capture doesn’t see the value in your offering, they will go elsewhere.

So what makes you special?

Let’s imagine you are the owner of Mr. Sparkle, a home and office cleaning service that uses environmentally friendly products. You charge a bit more than the average maid service, but believe your customers see the value in natural, non-toxic products used to clean their homes. We’ll look at some key questions to help you identify and express what exactly it is you offer potential customers.


A) Do your customers want what you sell?

A huge part of marketing is creating desire for your product. Even something as seemingly unsexy as housecleaning benefits from this treatment. So everyone (presumably) wants a clean home. Everyone wants to pay the lowest price possible to get that clean home. You know not everyone cares about natural, environmentally friendly products, but you know there’s a growing desire for that. And you know some people are willing to pay a bit more for that added benefit.

You’ve made an important distinction here – not everyone who wants a clean home will want your product. But you know there are customers who want what you’re selling, and now you can work on reaching them.


B) Do you get what your customers want from your offering?

You’re passionate about healing the earth – that’s why you started your company – but is that what your customers care the most about too? Understanding what your customers want is as important as describing what they get. For many people, booking a house cleaner is a hassle (think of all the apps that exist just to help ease this process). “Sell benefits, not features” means selling what your customers say they want (clean green home, easy booking, affordable price), not just the wonderful things you think you offer (HEAL THE WORLD!). There’s a bigger picture of busy people with fixed budgets – often young people as well – that are aligned with your mission but limited by funds. How can you sell to them?


C) Is your offering simple and easy to describe?

“Environmentally friendly house cleaning” is a fairly straightforward offering. But I see many business owners challenged as much by educating their customers as selling to them. Particularly in niche wellness fields – reiki, acupuncture, energy work and the like, it’s easy to forget that not everyone knows what you’re talking about.

When describing your mix of products and services, strive for simplicity.

Ask your existing customers – How do they describe what you offer? Why do they chose you over competitors? With that knowledge, you can appeal to them even more effectively. Their language may be more clear and understandable than your own.


D) Do YOU believe in the value of what you sell?

Marketing works best when you believe in what you’re selling. It’s not impossible to sell something you don’t stand behind, but it sure is depressing. If you don’t see the value, how are you going to make your customers? Customers pick up on energy – in person, in your space, and online. If you’re energy isn’t there, if it’s desperate or disingenuous, they can tell! Remember this.

Take some time to write out your responses to these four key questions, and see if what you write is reflected in your current marketing. Knowing what you sell, and being able to clearly communicate that, is step one in Marketing for Grown Ups.


E) How should you address any misconceptions or concerns people have about your offering?

Marketing works best when you and your audience have a shared view about the values and traits of your offering. If they’re thinking, “I bet those green products don’t really get things as clean,” while you see them as great cleaners, then it’s time to clarify some misconceptions. Get into their minds and address their conscious and unconscious concerns.