Descriptions for dummies

imagesI sat in a board meeting the other day and we were all attempting to come up with a brief one liner that described the company.  Everyone at the table knows exactly what the company does but when you talk to people who are out of the family it is important to be able to tell others in a simple precise description what the company does.  Company description for dummies.

When entrepreneurs pitch to people, particularly at the beginning, it is easy for people on the other side of the table to try and sum up the concept by threading words together and sometimes other companies names.  That can be frustrating but it does help that person wrap their head around the business.
As the company grows, particularly when you are moving into raising the bigger round after the product has been flushed out, you have to be able to come up with a concise description that anyone can get.
That description tends to help everything else fall into place.

Comments (Archived):

  1. awaldstein

    Positioning starts with understanding what you are about.If you don’t get that the market certainly won’t.This is what I do all day. Great job description.

  2. Yinka!

    Ironically, it’s sometimes harder to come up with such brief descriptions when you’re so immersed in everything about the business. Nothing like an outside perspective that can read/hear the key points and relate it back to you in 1 sentence. Maybe there should be a crowdsourced tagline (and company name?) generation site: upload a paragraph with key points and others suggest one-liners.

    1. Gotham Gal

      The importance of pulling your head out of the weeds and being able to communicate what your company does in a few simple sentences shouldn’t come from a crowd.

      1. Yinka!

        But the ability of someone else to describe your company briefly doesn’t mean you can’t, it’s just hearing the same meaning articulated in different words. Different because you’re used to describing X with certain words and/or you and your team have become used to describing it in certain language, which may not necessarily be easy for others understand or how majority of your target public would describe it. An outside suggestion is not final, just a different jumping point; you will probably mould it further so that it’s something that resonates with you and the outside world. Obviously, you’ll reject any unrelatable suggestions.It can be useful to hear if from not from a crowd, then perhaps from a handful of 3rd parties that you know that may also be in your target market.However, I also dislike using other companies to describe yours; I’d rather take an inelegant 1-liner or the extra time to hammer out something better.

  3. Sherry Abdou

    This post is very helpful! I need to practice this with my team. I’m wordy and tend to speak with passion about what we do and need to keep it simple. I will use this exercise in our next meeting. Thank you!

    1. Gotham Gal

      it would be a great exercise.

  4. pointsnfigures

    elevator pitch, or do it in 140 characters!

  5. JLM

    .The basics for communication for any company are Vision, Mission, Strategy, Tactics, Objectives, Values, Culture, business engine canvas, dollar weighted org chart, elevator pitch, taxicab pitch, board room pitch.It is really that easy.I have helped a lot of firms get it out of the founder/entrepreneur/CEO’s head and on to paper.When done correctly, it aligns the entire team to their common objectives.As a board member or a CEO coach, this is the first step in the journey. It is a pain in the ass to do and it is a bigger pain in the ass to disregard it.As a CEO coach, I never force any CEO to do anything, something I learned in 33 years of CEOing. But when they want the help, it is easy to brainstorm and get it done. When done, it is easy to tweak, pivot and change.I have seen companies drifting — in the right direction even — become powerhouses when they do this work. An off site to discuss it. Get the team’s fingerprints on the murder weapon and you have that most precious of all things — ALIGNMENT.This is just like following a recipe. Do it right and only then begin to experiment with a pinch of spice here or there.Sometimes I go nuts seeing CEOs miss this easy formula. It is EASY!The secret? There is no secret. It really is this easy.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. Gotham Gal

      i love the food analogy

      1. JLM

        .We’re even — I love brisket. After all, all Texas BBQ is is smoked brisket.Have a great celebration!JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…