Why Don't People know what you do?

You're great at what you do. Maybe you're the best. But nobody gets it.

You're a stellar videographer. But people keep asking you to do stuff that isn't your thing.

You're an amazing independent school that's changing children's lives. But the families who need you aren't finding you.

You're a test prep coach who's not just boosting scores, but inspiring true pursuit of greatness, too. But people don't get how seriously great you are at what you do.

people don't know what you do

You've written all these words about what you do. Words all over the place -- pages on your website, emails you send out, blogs you've put up and promoted everywhere you can think of.

You try to tell people in real life, too. You tell your friends. You tell people you meet at networking events. You tell people who come to your own events. You tell people who call you on the phone. You talk and talk and talk.

And still, people don't get it.

They ask you questions that make it clear they're not picking up what you're putting down. They don't have any ideas for people who might benefit from what you do. Or, worse, no one's hiring you.

What's with all these people? It's like they don't even understand the words that are coming out of your moth {sorry, might've put on my mom hat there for a minute}.

It's not them, my friends. It's you.

You're saying all the things. So no one hears the right thing.

The most common mistake people make here is that you say all the things.

It's not your fault. You just know too much about yourself and what you do. You can't separate what's essential from all that other stuff.

You're afraid that if you don't tell people all the things, they just won't know how amazing you really are.

But when you say all the things, no one hears the right thing. They don't know what you do, why it matters, or what they'll get out of it.

You're saying you can help anyone. Absolutely anyone.

Right up there with saying all the things you do, is saying all the people you work with.

You're afraid that if you tell people you're meant for a specific kind of person, then you'll turn people away or turn people off {and end up with no one}. So you say you're for everyone...everyone who needs video should hire you, or everyone with school-age kids should check you out, or everyone getting ready for those SATs can benefit from working with you.

But when you say you're made for anyone, no one thinks you're made for them. They can't see themselves in what you're saying. So they go on their merry way, looking for the thing that's perfectly made for them.

You use industry speak instead of talking like a human.

One of the hardest things to learn, again because we know too much about what we do, is to talk about our work like a human and not some sort of business automaton.

When you write about what you do, it has to come across as though you are talking. And when you talk about what you do, it has to come across as though your audience would've said it. When someone says, 'it's like you're in my head,' you've done it right.

You won't get their overnight. As a recovering corporate-speaker myself, I know. It's not always easy. You want to use all those fancy terms that you know because you're so smart and you're so good at what you do and it takes knowing a lot of things to be this good.

But that's not how the people who need you think or talk.

If you were describing what you do to your mom or your five-year-old or your BFF, would you talk like a textbook? {I've actually done this. It's taken me a long time to get my 8-year-old to understand what Mommy does. I think he gets it.}

You don't have an elevator pitch. Or your pitch sounds like a pitch.

Do you actually know what you're going to say when someone asks you what you do? Or do you make it up every time?

If you want to get better at helping people understand and remember what you do, you've got to practice. And if you're going to practice, you've got to have something to practice. You don't sit your kid down at the piano and say, ok, do...whatever happens...and then expect Carnegie Hall and Austin City Limits to be begging you for dates. 


So, if you don't have a set of statements to work from, how are you going to get better at helping people understand what you do?

Want people to know what you do? 

OK, so you need an elevator pitch. But don't worry. You're not going to sound like you're selling. And you're not going to be all President Business about it. Because it can't feel like a pitch. Remember, you've got to talk about your business like a human. And no one likes feeling like they're being sold to.

Your elevator pitch has two elements: the headline opener and the tell me more follow up.

Your headline must tell people what you do, why it matters, and who it's for. For instance, my headline opener right now is:

I'm a marketing guide for schools, creatives, and coaches.

The fact that I'm a marketing guide separates me from agencies and other consultants. Because I don't only do the magical marketing things for my clients. I guide my clients to better understand their marketing needs, and even their business overall.

And I primarily work with schools {like this one}, creatives, and coaches. I've worked with other service-based small businesses, too...but I specialize with these folks, so that's what I lead with.

Your tell me more follow up explains with a bit more depth and context what makes you different, and why it's valuable. This can take a few approaches. Mine usually goes something like this:

My clients have built their business, or grown their school, by word of mouth. They do great work, and the people who know them love them. But they don't know what's next. They know they need more. That's where I come in.

My Master Plan process gives people the direction and confidence they need. We define their goals, figure out who the ideal client is to match those goals, and make a marketing plan that they can actually understand. I give my clients the power to do what they love to do and grow with marketing they can own.

Get your elevator pitch in place.

For some people, it helps to literally imagine you're in an elevator. Who are you with? How does the conversation go? What does the other person say that opens the door for you to gracefully say, "Oh, that's interesting, because I do XYZ for ABC people."

You can even imagine a set of follow-up questions people might ask you. Doing so can actually help you hone the pieces of your pitch to entice people to ask the questions you want them to ask. Because, remember, you are not going to say all the things all at once.


Write your sh*tty first draft, first. Get all the business jargon out on the page. And then start replacing stuff.

Find simpler, more direct ways to say every piece of technical jargon you're using.

Cut your word count ruthlessly. Try challenging yourself to cut the word count by one-third, and then one-half.


Practice. Practice with everyone you can. Your kids. Your friends. Your colleagues. People who do what you do. People who have no idea what you do. You'll learn different things from all of them.

Ask each person if they can reframe back to you what you do. And ask them who they might think of to refer to you. That's the goal of this whole thing.

And take everyone's feedback with a grain of salt. Only use what makes sense to you. You're not trying to be everyone to every person. But getting feedback from all these different people can help you see yourself from new angles.


Keep practicing, keep improving, repeat. 

Truth is, you're probably never done here. Yesterday, I looked back at the pitch I drafted several months ago. I remember feeling so proud that I had finally got it. Total eureka moment. Now? I am so appalled at that thing. It's littered with jargon and is at least three times as long as it needs to be.

Be kind to yourself. Accept that what you do today is the best you can do today. And be excited about how much better you're going to be tomorrow.


This stuff is hard to do for yourself, or by yourself. That's why I'm here.

If you do great work, and the people who know you love you, but you don't know what's next...this might be where I come in. Let's talk about what you're doing and see if I can help.