How to Clearly Articulate What You or Your Brand Do: Clarity Consultant Steve Woodruff on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

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“You can’t read the label of the jar you’re in.” (Or, for that matter, write that label from the inside). Those words of wisdom come courtesy of Steve Woodruff, a “clarity consultant” at Clarity Fuel.

Listen to it later:

People don’t buy what they don’t understand, which is why Steve’s work is so important: He specializes in connecting people with their purpose, their message, and with other people—in order to create new business opportunities.

I invited Steve to Marketing Smarts to talk about his book Clarity Wins: Get Heard. Get Referred, and to share tips on how you can let go off the jargon and make it easy for people to understand what you do, which audiences you serve, and what makes you different.

Essentially, I wanted to ask Steve how you can proactively write the label that appears on the jar you’re in!

Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

Clearly articulating what you do (and for whom you do it) is a differentiator, because so few companies can communicate that simply (01:02): “Many companies have a vision and a mission statement. That’s way up there at the 30,000-foot level. And then, often, they have the sales messaging, the marketing messaging, the various playbooks. But there’s this missing layer—what I call the ‘keystone layer’—the Articles of Clarity, where anybody from the top of the organization down and anybody on the outside can see in clear, plain, human speech exactly what the company stands for, what their audience is, what their offerings are, and what the message is. The vast majority of companies do not have a good, clear, simple way of articulating themselves.”

Create a “verbal business card,” a 15-second explanation of what you do (01:55): “It often comes down to the first ‘moment of truth,’ when somebody asks you in a networking meeting, ‘Hey, what do you do?’ Everybody’s been asked that question. What often comes out of people’s mouths is a bunch of jargon or something that really gives no clear idea of exactly what we do and who we do it for.

“What that means is, number 1, we lose the audience if, in 15 seconds, they don’t have a clue what we do. But that also undercuts what I call ‘the second moment of truth,’ which is, If that person understands me, I can refer them to the next person. But you’ve got to give me a verbal business card, a word package, so I can have in my mind a picture.

“Then, when I run into somebody and they say, ‘We’re real worried about the legal issues of social media,’ I go, ‘Ah, that’s Kerry Gorgone; let me make a referral.’ And as we all know, referrals are the best way to get business. So the point of this book is, How do we make people and businesses ‘referral-ready?’ How do we make that first ‘moment of truth’ so effective that the second ‘moment of truth’ can happen.”

To create a “verbal business card,” simplify your message using snippets, stories, and symbols (04:05): “There’s three ways to boil down our message. You use snippets, which are very short, succinct, plain statements. You use stories, because the brain is hard-wired to absorb stories, so we have to tell people stories. People will remember them. And then: symbols.

“Symbols is when we talk about…Mercedes, Walmart—all the different things that use an existing memory hook. Because if I can get a concept in your head on an existing memory hook, you’re much more inclined to remember me and be able to pass on my name then if I say ‘here are the five different bullet points.’ Nobody’s going to remember five bullet points.”

For more information, visit or follow Steve on Twitter: @swoodruff, and be sure to get your copy of Clarity Wins: Get Heard. Get Referred.

Steve and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.


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