Post by Frances Cole Jones, contributing Women On Business writer
We’ve all heard how important it is to have an “elevator speech” about ourselves, our idea/product, or our business: a package of words that clearly and memorably conveys the essence of yourself, your firm, or your passion to “The CEO when you share a thirty second elevator ride.” What’s sometimes missed is the need for clearly articulated answers to the frequently asked questions (FAQs) that we, our idea/product, or our business receive. These should be designed not only to convey what you want to tell quickly and easily, but also to convey what most people want to know about you, your business, or your idea (hopefully, there’s a lot of overlap between these two, but only the most egoistical people think that they’re indistinguishable.) in language that’s precise, colorful, and concise.
In addition to stating what you believe in/your mission, what your unique value-added is, and who you are not (and why), you might also consider including the answers to the questions you most dread getting: “How’s business in this economy?” “Weren’t you the ones who ‘masterminded’ last year’s ‘growth strategy’– what happened?” “You’re expensive—are you worth it?” As well as a quite précis of who your dream customer or consumer might be– curious, value-conscious, informed, etc—as that is a useful tool for enticing the “armchair buyer”: for example, “If you’re someone who appreciates quality, this choice is for you,” Or, “If your friends say you’re a thrill seeker, but know the value of adventure…”
With these answers in-hand you can make decisions about where and to whom they should be available. In my experience, a FAQ one-sheet should be part of every company handbook; an FAQ page on your website should be a mandatory feature; and anytime you are headed into a large event or tricky situation, answers to any potentially disquieting questions should be worked out and disseminated to all key personnel prior to their engaging with their teams or the outside world.
Sample Script: FAQ’s
Following are three questions applicable to any business to which you should have memorable, considered answers:
- What’s your brand promise?
The answer to this includes not only your values but explains how your adherence to those values is going to make your customer’s life better/easier. For example, “Your health is our first priority, so we are committed to using only organic ingredients in our products.”
- What’s your best selling product/idea? Why?
You will, of course, know your best selling product. The “why?” here should tell a story about how your product will make your listener’s life better or easier. It does not include useless modifiers such as, “great, amazing, wonderful,” etc; for example, your night cream isn’t just “amazing,” it “protects against sun damage, reduces redness, and smoothes away fine lines.”
- Who is your biggest competition?
Your answer to this one should not name names—why give your competition free advertising? Instead, I recommend, “To compete is to imitate. There are some companies that have similar products, but none have X, Y, Z features (be specific) that ours does.”