What would you say if I asked you to tell me about your business in just ONE clear, concise sentence?
Would you freeze up? Ramble? Trip over your words or somehow make it sound really, really boring?
Do you have a ridiculously hard time reducing your entrepreneurial genius to just one simple line of text?
It’s a tall order, I know. (You’ve got a lot of genius over there). But friend. It’s not only possible. It’s oh-so-worth it.
I spent my first eight months of business helping over 160 entrepreneurs from all over the world describe precisely what they have to offer in succinct, conversational ways. It didn’t take long for me to realize that a glorious one-sentence bio is all you really need to get the copy party started. (Tweet that!)
You nail this ONE sentence, and you’re on a roll. New tagline options start to bubble up. A fitting professional title becomes obvious. Big brand themes jump right off the screen. You have a whole lot more confidence when someone asks, “So, what do you do?”
The process is magical, and the results are delicious. Til now I’ve only shared this with my dream clients. But it’s time to let you in on the secret.
Today I’d like to offer up eight simple steps to help you write the ONE sentence that will change your copywriting life.
A Bit of Housekeeping Before We Start
By “the one sentence,” I mean a biz bio. A mini-elevator speech. Cocktail party pitch. Twitter bio. One-line manifesto. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a clear, succinct, engaging way to tell the world what you do…in one glorious sentence.
Some people see this “one sentence” idea as limiting. I see it as freeing.
TRUTH: Nobody needs more anxiety in social (networking) situations – formal or informal. Having a basic “hey – here’s what I do” framework in mind before stepping into the unknown takes the pressure off and allows you to just ENJOY the natural flow of conversation.
On the other hand, if you plan on freestyling your answer with every single person you meet, you’re ADDING to the pressure, taking away from the moment, and could very likely end up feeling like a goob with nothing coherent to say. (Not the effect you’re going for.)
The right kind of prep doesn’t make you sound like a cheeseball. It makes you sound like a professional. (Tweet that!)
The basic structure of the biz bio is deceptively simple. Small, but mighty. Each and every word of this sentence should be hand-picked with the utmost consideration. Every noun, verb, and adjective serves a unique and productive purpose.
I help *audience* + *benefit* + *feature.*
BOOM. It can be that simple.
No matter who you’re talking to, your spiel (yes, I googled how to spell that) should include THREE important parts: audience, benefit, and feature.
Tell people who you serve, the benefit they get from working with you, and how you get them that benefit. You can adapt, flip, and change it over time, but to start, this formula makes for some killer training wheels.
Case in point: My Twitter-bio-turned-self-fulfilling-prophecy that I created in March 2013, before I had a business (or client!) to speak of: I help bright entrepreneurs (audience) attract their dream clients (benefit), one brilliant message at a time (feature).
Your turn. What do you do?
Bust out your (digital) pen and paper, and let’s break this baby down, one step at a time. The first half is the hardest, so hang with me here.
Step 1: Identify the audience – the who.
Who are your dream clients, exactly? Up-and-coming entrepreneurs? Busy moms? Professional bowlers?
If you let us know who you love to work with, we can help you find ’em. If I know a [professional bowler] who might like your stuff, you can bet I’ll pass on a recommendation.
On your page, brainstorm a list of concise ways to describe your ideal audience. Keep it specific, but SIMPLE. (i.e. Avoid “I help women entrepreneurs between 5’3″ and 5’7” who who have a love-hate relationship with chocolate...” It’s good to know that, but you don’t need to spell it ALL out in this sentence.)
Step 2: Identify the benefit – the why.
Why do your customers love to work with you? What’s the big, shiny takeaway they get? More time to do what they love? A smokin’ hot bikini bod?
Make sure it’s juicy, clear, and accurate. Aspirational, even. This should be something that potential clients will drool over because it sounds so ridiculously desirable.
On your page, make a list of the big, headlining benefits your customers or clients get from working with you. Use language they can identify with (and get excited about!).
Step 3: Identify the feature – the how.
How do you achieve those results for them? By giving them a new way to look at food? By teaching them to be smarter about their finances?
It’s important to be clear here. There are a number of different ways to help people achieve that dreamy benefit. The feature tells us how YOU do it.
On your page, make a list of what you actually do to get these results for your customers. Focus on what sets you apart from others who offer a similar benefit.
Step 4: Piece it together.
Once you’ve got three solid word banks to play with, it’s time to start putting the puzzle together. Start mixing and matching different phrases.
Play around with the different phrases and see what you like and what you don’t like. Read them out loud. Do they feel awkward together? Too long? Too short? Not descriptive enough?
Keep adjusting until you find a structure you’re happy with.
Step 5: Style it up.
Once you’ve got a one-liner you like, it’s time to make that baby shine. Ask yourself these Qs:
Can I switch it up a bit? Get creative! Again, this formula is like training wheels. If you’re feeling confident, switch things around a bit. Swap the order. Exchange “help” for another verb like simplify, enable, empower, or give, and see what happens!
Does it look good in writing? Is it choppy, awkward, or too long to read? Tweak as needed until you’re happy with the flow.
Does it make sense? Clever is good, but clear is better. Ask a friend or two to take a peek (or have a listen), and check for understanding.
Do I feel comfortable saying it? You shouldn’t feel (or sound) like a cheeseball when you say it out loud. Make sure it sounds like YOU – your lingo, your pace. (Bonus tip: You may even draft a slightly different version for writing vs. speaking.)
Step 6: Do a happy dance.
YOU DID IT!!! Congratulations!!
Seriously. Take a deep breath, pat yourself on the back, and do a happy dance – full. OUT.
I’m throwing imaginary confetti your way. Do you see it? (Tweet that. Because at least one of your followers needs some imaginary confetti.)
Step 7: Shout it from the (digi) rooftops.
If you’re anything like my dream clients, by this point you can’t WAIT to share your biz bio all over the place – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, your own website and about page, speaker bios, guest posting bios, you name it.
Copy, paste, repeat.
Step 8: Adjust as needed.
Just like you, your business will grow and change. And your social situation will change! (You’d probably explain your work a bit differently to a potential partner than a client – or your great aunt or a total stranger, for example.) Every now and then, come back to the bio and make sure it still represents where you are and (perhaps more importantly) where you want to be.
Don’t be afraid to make changes and updates as necessary.
That’s all she wrote! Now it’s your turn.
I mentioned before that I’ve worked on this process with just about every one of my fabulous clients, but this is my first time to share it publicly. In the comments below, tell me:
- What do you think of this step-by-step approach? Is it helpful?
- BONUS POINTS: Share your shiny new biz bio right here in the comments!
[IMPORTANTE: This comment section isn’t about ME – it’s about YOU – this brilliant community of folks working on your own unique brands of smart, authentic communication. I’ll respond as I can, but please jump in to provide feedback and support each other when you see a place you can contribute. If you’d like more help, click here to find out how to work with me.]
Secrets are more fun when they’re shared.
***2015 UPDATE: Late last year, after (close to) HUNDREDS of comments + sentences down below, I realized it was time to take this post to the next level. I took note of all the most common mistakes, frustrations, and confusions from the comments below and created something even BETTA. Introducing….
The One Sentence Workbook
If Lesson 3 of A Course About Copy, my most popular blog post of all time (this guy!), and the gorgeously styled ACAC workbook had a (delightfully) affordable love child, The One Sentence Workbook would be it.
I’ve taken the best of each and put together 23 pages of fillable step-by-step guidance on how to write the one sentence that will change your copywriting life – no exaggeration. Since it’s MUCH easier to do when you can see real examples, I’m also including a bonus video to show you how I’ve walked through this process with actual ACAC students.
This exercise has been a game-changer for hundreds of my clients + students from all different backgrounds because it forces them to get clear on what they REALLY want to say. Once you’ve got that down, the digi-sky’s the limit.
To clarity and confidence,
P.S. Like practical tips like these? You will LOVE my free video training series. Click below to check it out: