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Berkonomics

Manage your MANTRA.

I am constantly surprised when speaking with entrepreneurs and CEO’s who act puzzled and a bit flustered when I ask, “So what is your mantra?  Tell me about your company in ten words or less.”  Almost every one begins a long explanation of their business that is nearly impossible to follow, let alone recall a few moments later.

And each lost an opportunity to tell their story in a memorable way that has power and boosts their enterprise value in the minds of the listener.  I recently spent fifteen minutes in front of a table-top display, attempting to coach an entrepreneur who repeatedly tried to state why his business was better than a competitor (one I didn’t recognize) and never explaining what it was that he did.

In explaining what you do, and what you do better than the other company, you have seconds – and only seconds – to get your image across into the minds of your listener.  The best way to do this with a young company without name recognition is to appropriate the image of another, known company, to invoke the quick mental understanding of what you do.

[Email readers, continue here…]   “We are the Skype of moderated Internet broadcasting,” evokes immediately the mental picture of a company that provides a platform for broadcasting town hall meetings or large group gatherings over the Internet, much as Skype does with one-to-one video connectivity.  Yet, if you took the time to describe the company with the longer description above, you’d lose many of your listeners with too much detail and too many words.  With the short description evoking the image of a known company, the listener immediately grasps enough to engage in a discussion – or at least walk away and be able to repeat to another the main thrust of the business.

That’s a mantra: a short, quickly understood picture of your business in just a few words, often using the name of a well-known company or process to complete the picture-story.

You have only seconds to make a first impression.  Your mantra is the ticket to entrance into a longer conversation.  It is often the most powerful but inexpensive marketing tool a young company has to offer.   And it is often extremely difficult to craft effectively in just a few words.  So what is your mantra?

  • David,

    Following Mark Mitchell’s suggestion: This concept is so important to nail down. Some describe it as an elevator pitch that describes the “What”. Others feel it should be a more profound statement about the “Why”. Your use of the term “Mantra” may serve as a useful blend of the two.

    John Morris

    Coach, CEO Peer Groups

  • Dave, I like where you are going with this. Please cut a bit deeper. I believe the mantra should address an organization cause and it evokes evanlgist for a product / service. You might say it is your value proposition and competitive advantage distilled down to a few words. At TriTech our mantra / cause is… creating jobs for entrepreneurial success. I’m not quite sure if we have it stated exactly the way we want it, but we are getting close.

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