Telling People What You Do—One-Liner Exercise

Have you ever tried to write your own bio? It’s hard, right? All of your experiences, work and interests are hard to boil down to just a few sentences. What about when you sit down in an interview or meeting with a new client and get the dreaded question, “Tell me about yourself”?

Telling people what you do is easier said than done. It is difficult to know what about you or your company people are interested in. Thus, most people and businesses struggle to clearly and concisely illustrate what they do. If you want a simple (note, I didn’t say easy) way to structure your “elevator pitch” or one-liner, keep reading.

In Donald Miller’s book, Building a Storybrand, he talks about crafting your brand’s story as if were a movie, making your customer the center of the story, rather than you or your company. I highly recommend the book if you haven’t read it. But, in the meantime, I am going to walk you one piece of the Storybrand puzzle—your one-liner. This is something you can do right now that will change the way you market your business and yourself.

What is a one-liner?

Imagine you are at a dinner party and someone says, “What do you do?” How do you respond? Do you just list off your services or your job title? This is the perfect time to pull out your one liner. Here’s how it’s broken down:

  1. Who is your customer? This is the character at the center of your one-liner. 
  2. What problem does your customer have? This should be a pain point that your customer can relate to and actually feel. 
  3. How do you solve their problem? How does your product or service take the pain away?
  4. What is the end result/benefit for the customer? Let the customer picture what their life will be like when you take their pain away. 

Just as important as what a one-liner is, is what it’s not. It’s not a slogan or tagline, but a statement that helps people realize why they need your service.

Want to see some examples?

Of course you do. First, here’s mine:

[Character] Many businesses are [Problem] wasting time and money on marketing that isn’t converting. [Solution] I help businesses clarify their marketing message, and build a strategy that allows them to reach the right customers in the right ways [Benefit] so they can focus on growing their business and their bottomline.

Think about the problem big brands solve:

  • Carmax resolves the frustration of dealing with used car salesmen (we all can relate to that)
  • HelloFresh lets you cook gourmet meals at home without going to the grocery store

What to do with your one-liner

Okay, you came up with a concise, single statement that will grow your business. Now, what do you do with it? Lots!

  • First, practice it. Ask some brutally honest friends or strangers at the coffee shop to listen to your one-liner and tell you if it is clear what you do and who you help.
  • Second, memorize it. Yes – like actually memorize it. Do you have a team? Have them memorize it, too.
  • Put it on your website. This statement should be the first chunk of copy on your website.
  • Use it. Next time someone asks what you do, give them your one-liner and see what happens.
  • Add it to marketing materials. Business cards, email signature, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Google, Twitter.

Ready to get started? I would love to hear your one-liner when you come up with it. Email it to me or leave it in the comments. I’d be happy to give you some feedback, too.

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