How A Confusing Business One-Liner Costs You Money

Juan // January 23  

In my mind, I begged him not to ask me. But I knew there was no way around it.

Sooner or later, he would have to ask.

So after listening to him for a while, he stopped. That was my cue.

I braced for it.

Changed my posture, got more alert, and immediately started drinking water to win a couple of extra seconds.

That’s when he went for it, “and you? what do you do?”

What a horrible question, seriously… Nothing worse than asking a self-employed person about what they do for a living.

It’s horrible.

So after looking for something interesting to say. Something that could be relevant to this person, I decided to go with “well… it’s complicated”

Then I went on to list all the stuff I did until finally, we moved on to other topics.

I was grateful we got that part out of the way…

But as I learned about storytelling and coached hundreds of entrepreneurs, I realized this.

A Confusing One-Liner Costs You Money

What may seem like a small interaction at a networking event, can be costing you thousands or more. Your one-liner is the starting point for every person that comes across your business.

Whether it is at a networking event, on LinkedIn, on a podcast interview, etc. Your one-liner is the first thing they will interact with.

And how is it really a problem?

Well, in today’s busy and noisy world, people will not invest their time to try to figure out how you can help them.

Even if they are standing in front of you!

If your competition can explain their product and value better than you, your customers will buy from them.

Regardless if you have a better product.

Not only a confusing one-liner makes it hard for them to understand what you do. But, since your one-liner is the foundation from which your marketing messages are built, it affects everything else too.

Fail to invest the time to develop a compelling one-liner and you will struggle to grow your business.

A clear one-liner helps you communicate with the confidence needed to get people to take action.

Transform a confusing one-liner and you’ll see your business and your life transform.

What Is A One-Liner?

We have taglines, we have hooks, we have elevator pitches, and so on. Are they all your one-liners?

Yes, they are part of it.

A one-liner is a sentence that tells people how their life will be better by buying your product. A one-liner communicates the value of your product to the person.

Making it super easy for the person to scan it and determine if this is relevant to them or someone they know.

“We help entrepreneurs get people interested in their product in less than 90 seconds”

That is a one-liner. That has a hook element, it communicates the target, and what they get. Short and concise.

“We help entrepreneurs turn a confusing message into a compelling story that converts by giving value”

That’s also a one-liner. This one has a hook element, it communicates the target, and in this case, the problem and the result.

So How To Turn A Confusing One-Liner Around In 3 Steps

The biggest reason people struggle with their one-liner is they think it needs to sound smart.

It needs to be something unique, something clever.

It doesn’t have to.

Actually is more valuable if it’s not. It needs to be clear and concise.

This allows people to frame the conversation and the relationship so that they can understand you.

People have category and filing systems in their minds.

They match people and their solutions with the problem they can help them solve.

One thing is “Florida Immigration Lawyer for Tech Investors.” Another is “I help wealthy individuals navigate the complicated and complex legal system of the state of Florida as they try to achieve the American Dream

Another example:

Clear and concise > I help experienced hikers climb the Montblanc in 2 days.

Cute and inspirational > I help passionate mountaineers fulfill their dream of seeing the world from the top of the Alps.

Why this is key?

Because when you say #2, people will simplify that into the first sentence so that they can archive you.

By saying it like this, you have no control over what that sentence will be. Which means you don’t control their word of mouth.

So Step 1 – Clear and Concise

The next challenge people have is that they struggle to narrow down their target customers.

This makes it really hard for people to feel you are talking to them.

And if they don’t feel understood, they won’t take action.

You can’t help everybody. You don’t want to waste time talking to people you can’t help. They will not buy and you can’t service them.

In the Montblanc example, is everybody going to hike it? No, people who are into the outdoors, who like hiking will be interested.

From that group, will all of them try to hike it, no. Some will not have the time, some don’t have the money, and some don’t have the training.

So it doesn’t make sense to say “I help people climb…” because the experienced climbers, will not feel you are talking to them.

Don’t be afraid to exclude. If you try to address everybody, you will actually exclude your customers.

Step 2 – Communicate who you target

Next, move on to the last step. Understand the problem and the result your customer is looking for.

The last mistake entrepreneurs make when developing their one-liner is they focus on the solution.

You are very close to your business. After all, the solution is your area of expertise, this is what you do all day.

But your customer is just trying to solve a problem. They are not trying to become experts. They actually, don’t care about the process. As long as the solution delivers the results you promised them, they are happy.

So mention the problem so they feel understood, and connect them with what they are looking for, the results.

Your solution is just a bridge and so should be your one-liner.

So step 3 – Avoid talking about the solution. Instead, mention the problem and the results.

Quick Recap

Your answer to the question “what do you do?” is key to growing your business. Invest the time to develop a clear one-liner.

3 Steps to a clear and concise one-liner

1) Eliminate cute and clever, be clear and concise

2) Communicate who your target is. Exclude who is not.

3) Don’t mention the solution.

Apply the 3 steps, go out there, and test it until you have something that works. Then stop changing it!



PS1: Know a fellow entrepreneur hustling to grow their business, send them this article.

PS2: Interested in getting extra help?

Check out our pitch pro course, exclusively focused on helping you develop a compelling one-liner for your business.

Click on the link below to learn more about it.

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3 Steps To Turning A Confusing Message In to A Compelling Story

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