Do you know what the Russian word for bread is?
I do now, but when I was standing at the front of a long, angry queue in a St Petersburg grocery store, I did not.
It was the nineties and I’d been studying Russian at university for six months. I knew how to say stuff like ‘Dostoevky’s literary works plough the depths of human psychology’ (I was a pretty pretentious 18 year old) but….it suddenly dawned on me I didn’t know one of the most basic and crucial words there was: bread.
So I stuttered and mimed my way through my interaction with the shopkeeper. (There were no supermarkets at the time – everything was fetched from the back of the shop). The old babushkas behind me told me in no uncertain terms to ‘get on with it’. I eventually left, red faced, with my bread intact but my pride in pieces.
And I think about this story often when I see certain businesses. They’ve got all the bells and whistles going on:
- An interactive website with photos of beautiful people sharing a joke over a latte
- Shared workspace with free hemp juice and on-site masseuse
- Team building days playing crazy golf with hipsters
…..they are missing the basics.
It’s impossible to tell from any of their materials what exactly they do, why they do it and what’s in it for me.
They’ve skipped straight to the fun stuff without doing the hard grind.
They haven’t given enough thought to communicating what they do clearly, concisely and powerfully.
And no amount of gloss will help if the foundations aren’t right. Customers will find it much harder to buy from you.
Did You Skip Straight To The Fun Stuff?
Take a moment to think about whether you and your team can talk about your business easily. Can you:
- answer the what, why, how of your business?
- articulate what you don’t do?
- put your finger on exactly why you blow the competition out of the water?
If not, make this an urgent priority. Shut yourself in a room until you have the answers. Get expert help if you need it. Because what’s more important than making it easy for people to buy from you?
The crazy golf will just have to wait.