Have you ever been in one of those awkward situations at a business networking event, perhaps where someone comes up to you and says, so what do you do?
Do you have an answer? Is it clear? Do you scramble around to try and find the words and explain the complexity of what you do in your business and how you help people in all the various services that you can offer?
Donald Miller author of building a story brand says time and time again, if you confuse you lose. So, in this article, I’m going to share a super effective and valuable exercise that you can do to clarify your marketing message and maximise the impact for your business today. Today, we’re going to get really tactical and practical, as I share with you a methodology that I use when I’m working with my coaching clients and our video marketing clients, in order to help them get clear on communicating what it is that they actually do and how they actually help people, because let’s face it in business, if you can’t clearly and quickly communicate what you do and why it matters to a prospective customer, then you have the potential to confuse and lose. So, let’s run through my 1-4-1 method because by the end of this process, you’re going to end up with a very clear, simple and concise statement that describes exactly what you do and why it matters for your ideal customer.
What is the 1-4-1 Method?
The 1-4-1 method is about brain dumping your ideas onto 1 page in a structured way, and then refining that down to 4 specific sentences before finishing up with your 1 sentence statement that perfectly sums up your value proposition for your business.
So, step 1 is to write basically a single page outline of who it is that you help in your business and how you help them achieve the outcomes that you achieve. And we’re going to break this page down into 4 main paragraphs. So, for the first paragraph you’re going to just offload everything that you can write about your audience. The first paragraph is all about really getting clear and specific on who your ideal audience, your ideal customer actually is. And here we’re not going to be writing about loose demographics, like a 30 to 40-year-old male who lives in a particular geographical region.
You need to get specific so that you can almost paint a picture of a single person who is your ideal customer, your ideal client. And it’s valuable here to potentially even describe a day in their life. Example:
- What do they do when they get up?
- How do they live their life?
- What they are going through in their life?
- What does their life look like?
Because when you can picture that person that you are able to help, then you can get really clear on the language that you need to use in order to reach that person correctly in your marketing and communications. So, your first brain dump of a paragraph on the page is going to be about who you help.
For the second paragraph, you’re going to write down as much as you can to get clear about what the problems are that that person faces.
So, what are they like before they ever come do business with you, use your products or your services? And importantly here, we want to be focusing on both the internal and external problems that they face. So internal problems are:
- What’s going through their heads and their hearts.
- How are they feeling?
- What keeps them up at night?
- What are the day to day thoughts that they’re having around the problem that they have, which you can help solve?
- How are they feeling internally about that?
And then the external problems could be:
- How do those internal problems show up in their real life?
- What are the current, physical real world things that are happening in their lives that are causing dissatisfaction?
When we get really clear on these and we emphasise what the problem is that they’re facing, we can start to contrast this against the next paragraph. Next we’re going to write about the outcome.
- What does life look like after they’ve done business with you, or they’ve worked with you, or they’ve had your product in their hands?
Brainstorm here the outcome of doing business with you. You want to focus on both the internal and the external. Internally:
- How are they feeling about their life now?
- What does their new normal look like?
- How’s that showing up in their day to day life?
- What do they have?
- What are they surrounded by?
- Who are the people that they’re engaging with?
These are external things. You want to be super clear here. Take some time to picture what your ideal customer’s life looks like now, after they’ve done business with you. And it’s also helpful here to consider future pacing as well, which means painting a picture of what their future might hold now and contrast it to what their future potentially held prior to doing business with you. So, what’s the cost potentially of not doing business with you, or not working with your brand or business? It’s a really powerful thought experiment to go through on this page and write down what does the future hold now that they’ve done business with you.
And then the fourth paragraph or section of this page of brain dumping is all about how you actually help them. So what’s the process of transformation that you take them through? So, what I mean by that is:
- What’s your process?
- What’s your framework or your superpower in business?
- How do you actually work with your clients to get that result – the outcome that we’ve just gained clarity on?
- How does that transformation actually take place?
You can think of the transformation as like the vehicle that allows people to get from A to B from that point of dissatisfaction that we outlined earlier to the satisfaction or the positive outcome that we outlined earlier. The transformation becomes the vehicle that gets them from one place to the other, and that’s the way that you help them do that. So, get really clear here in this 4th paragraph of how you actually help your clients. That’s step 1 of the 1-4-1 method. You should now have a full page, at least with some pretty clear information written down around those 4 key aspects of your messaging. So, if you really want to get results from this article and clarify your message, I encourage you right now to grab that template HERE.
Now, here’s where things really get fun. The 2nd step of the 1-4-1 method is all about distilling your longer paragraphs down into a single sentence, that’s 4 sentences in total. So, you’ll end up with:
- 1st sentence – who your ideal audience is.
- 2nd sentence – what problems they’re facing before they work with you.
- 3rd sentence – what does their life look like after they’ve worked with you? What’s the outcome of working with you?
- 4th sentence – how do you help them? What’s the method of transformation?
This process sounds easy, but it rarely is. You’ve put some detailed thought into those first 4 paragraphs. And now I’m asking you to decide on which parts are most relevant or most impactful for your ideal audience to hear from you. You want them to read these sentences and say to themselves, “Oh, you’ve get me!” or “It’s like, you’re inside my head”.
Let’s bring the 1-4-1 method home with step number three. So, the challenge now is to be a bit of a wordsmith and really massage the ideas that you’ve distilled in those four sentences into a concise, single sentence statement that will become your clear message of what it is that you do. This may require a bit of drafting, refining, and tweaking, but let me tell you when you’ve worked through this process properly, that final statement that you’re ending up with here should be a very powerful tool for your communications and marketing.
I want to share with you now some real-world examples of these clarity statements. Now, I’m not going to share with you the entire page of notes from step 1 or the four sentences distilled in step 2, but I am going to share with you the outcome of this process, which was for these businesses, their single brand statement that I helped them develop.
Example 1 – Mortgage Broker
The first example here was from a mortgage broker. Now this mortgage broker has a fairly unique process of being able to work with clients remotely in many cases, to help them get in a position to be able to be successful in seeking funding to get into a property. So he has a very unique process here and I wanted to help him define it so that they differentiated him from other mortgage brokers who work in more traditional ways.
And here’s the sentence that we came up with. And I want you to pay attention for those four key things that we’ve talked about in the 1-4-1 method and see how we’ve distilled it down into one impactful sentence. So, here’s the first example from the mortgage broker:
“We help first home buyers and new investors who are wary, confused and overwhelmed by property financing to avoid the red tape and secure their ideal loan terms through our five-step loan readiness online program and personal lending concierge service.”
Are you with me? Okay, let’s break that example down:
We help first home buyers and new investors.
That’s the first step. That’s the audience who their ideal audience is,
…who are wary, confused and overwhelmed by property financing.
So that’s their problem. That’s where they are before they work with you. They’re wary, overwhelmed and confused.
…to avoid the red tape and secure their ideal loan terms.
So that’s the outcome that they’ve avoided red tape and they’ve secured their ideal loan terms.
…through our five step loan readiness online program and personal lending concierge service.
So that right there is the vehicle of transformation. That’s how they help people through that process. It’s clear, right?
Example 2 – Personal Trainer
So, let’s break this down with another example. And this example is a personal trainer. She’s kind of a personal trainer/life coach. She doesn’t just work on fitness. She also works on the internal stuff as well. So, it’s very powerful. She’s very good at what she does, but she was really not good at communicating how it is that she does this for people. So together, we worked on creating this single brand statement, using the 1-4-1 method. Again, look for the four stages of this process as we go through this statement:
“I empower time poor, new moms who are feeling run down, unmotivated, and with poor self-esteem to love their body and thrive in a busy life by developing new daily habits in health, happiness, and higher self.”
Can you spot the four phases of the 1-4-1 played out here? So, I hope this has been useful to you. I hope it’s a process that you can understand how to use both in your own business, or if you work with other businesses on clarifying their marketing, then you can apply this process with them too. Once you have your brand statement and you’re happy with it, this statement can be used on your website, in your sales conversations, when you meet people at networking events, in a phone script, and of course, to inform your video marketing too.