How To Write A Snappy Description Of What You Do

Let's pin down what you do and who you do it for.

Written by Clare

Today we’re going to come up with a snappy description of what you do.

One you can use in your tagline, on your About Page, in your wholesale catalogue, on your packaging and anywhere else that potential buyers might see it.

Now, explaining what you do seems like it should be the easiest thing in the world, right?

You’re the one who started your company after all. You’re the one who makes your product, does the accounts, answers the phone and buys the biscuits. As we’ve talked about before, you’re the world’s leading expert on your business.

But even though you know your business at its deepest level, summing all that up off the top of your head can be incredibly difficult

Which is why you need a snappy description.

It tells your customer something about who you are, what you stand for, your philosophy, attitude and, ultimately, why you deserve their attention.

Retailers in particular are on the look-out for a succinct summary of who you are and what you offer. We’re busy people and there’s always something else demanding our attention.

If you can tell me in one sentence why I might be interested, I’ll probably take a closer look. If discerning what you offer is a struggle, however, there are lots of other things I could be getting on with.

Finding out where that weird smell in my stockroom is coming from, for starters.

[Read: Should you tell people you’re a menstrual rat stapler?]

So part of selling successfully is being able to neatly sum up what you do. Let’s see if we can make that easier for you.

When you get down to it, all your snappy description has to do is express what you do and who you do it for.

If we break it down into separate parts, we get something like this:

I make [your kind of lovely thing] for [people who benefit from your work]

When we fill in the blanks we get something like:

“I’m a silversmith for people who love the textures of the natural world.”

“I create stoneware cups and bowls for people who like a shot of colour with their breakfast.”

“I make affectionately snarky greetings cards for people who enjoy sarcasm.”

There are two secrets to making this work. Actually, three secrets.

The first is expressing the essence of what you do. When you get right down to it, what is your business actually for?

If you find that a hard question to answer, imagine putting everything you know about your business into a huge saucepan. Stuff every tiny detail in there.

Throw in how you got the idea for your lovely thing. What people say about it. The changes your business has gone through over time. Your hopes for the future. All that stuff.

Are you done? Good. Now pour in some water and put the lid on. Leave it to simmer. Go watch a Poirot or something. Now come back and take the lid off. All the extraneous stuff has boiled away and what’s left is the essence of your business at this particular point in time.

So what’s in the pot now?

The second secret is describing your potential buyers in a way which they recognise to be true.

It doesn’t matter if you think it’s true – it’s what they think that matters.

Your audience has to say themselves “Hey, I DO like a blast of colour in the morning. It wakes me up,” or “I DO enjoy sarcasm in all its forms.” In short, your snappy description must make your customers mentally opt in. It should make them realise they’re already part of your gang.

The third secret is not aiming for perfection.

You don’t need to have best snappy description ever written in order to sell your work. All we’re interested in is good enough. You have to be fairly happy with it, for now at least, but wanting to marry your snappy description is not a pre-requisite for success.

Being able to say what you do – and why your customers should give a damn – is important.

No business ever failed because it was too clear and straightforward about how it served people.

And if you do decide to take this simple formula for a spin, the next time your Mum’s irritating friend Agnes asks “What is it you do again, love?” you’ll know exactly what to say.

Clare Yuille Bio Picture

Hello, I'm Clare Holliday. I'm a shopkeeper who's helped thousands of creative people sell their work to stores, galleries and regular customers all over the world. Now it's your turn.

Worry less. Sell more.