How do other people introduce you?

I was meeting with a colleague in a coffee shop yesterday, and as we approached the end of our scheduled time, her next appointment walked up to the table and my colleague introduced us. What she told the other person, in essence, was that I was smart and joyful. I don’t think anyone’s ever distilled me quite that way before, and I was charmed but also intrigued. It’s always entertaining and enlightening to me to observe how people introduce me to new people. I wonder how many different ways my friends and colleagues would describe me. I wonder how much overlap there would be, and what those points of overlap would be.

All this got me thinking, too, about marketing. What about my company? What about your company? How would people describe or introduce your company? How do you suspect your best customers would describe you? How would your most unhappy customers describe you? Where is the overlap?

Depending on how you think about your brand strategy, you might feel comfortable with a degree of uncertainty, ambiguity, and variance in how people describe your company. I have friends who have a business that does very prestigious projects, but whose model is very difficult to explain. I know, because I once tried to explain it to a 13-year-old child of a friend who heard us mention the company, and asked what they do. This was a bright child, but even bright children aren’t overly familiar with abstract business concepts like strategy, engagement, and revenue share. Plenty of adults are unfamiliar with those concepts.

That business thrives on a certain amount of mystique. But most businesses, particularly consumer-facing ones, live or die by how clear their value proposition is to their potential new customers.

Of course there’s always the opportunity to ask your customers directly, and it’s a good idea to do so. But it’s also a good exercise to think about it yourself. Let me know in the comments if you come up with something good.

Column: “How meaning builds value in business” at The Tennessean

An excerpt:

Value in business is inseparable from meaning. And yet we often talk about value as if it were simply a price point. As if you can take the jumbled landscape of sense memories, beauty, irrational fears, prized beliefs, aspirations, accomplishments, and everything else, roll it into a snowball of whatever size, and call it “price.” Only to watch it melt.

Meaning does not melt or shrink; meaning grows. When you start from an understanding of meaning, you can operate on wholly different dimensions. You can assess the value of a thing to someone based on what you understand of their desires. Based on they want and need, based on what they cherish, based on what they will fight for, walk away from, laugh at, cry at, share with strangers, and hide from friends. You can begin to see opportunities to add value to a thing based on how you deliver it, where you make it available, when you communicate about it, what you add in, what you leave out, what color you make it, what you call it, etc., etc.

Read the rest at the link:
http://www.tennessean.com/story/money/2014/06/21/meaning-builds-value-business/11173739/