Capabilities, Services, Solutions, “What We Do:” However you name it, it’s what visitors to your website and readers of your brochures want to know. And they don’t want a bullet list!
Your capabilities are an opportunity to express who you are, what you do and why you do it. Your capabilities aren’t a bulleted list for a website or a brochure. Wherever you showcase, summarize or describe your capabilities, it’s your big chance to create difference between you and your competition. People want to get information fast. They are impatient. Your ability to summarize your skills and value will dramatically impact your success. Take a look at your own website and company/product literature (if you’re lucky enough to have any) and the label “lackluster” probably applies. If you have bullets, chances are you also have boring descriptions. Bullets and boredom go hand-in-hand. At Modern bullets are a last resort. They have their place, but they sure won’t be closing any deals for you.
Whenever I’m asked what I do for a living, I always pause for a moment because it’s hard to sum up brand strategist, graphic designer, illustrator, copywriter and web developer in a catch-all phrase. Ultimately I see myself as an old-school graphic designer who is a genuine artist. I view my work for clients as art. And I fully intend for it to be artfully executed, purposeful and valuable. But it’s certainly not all I do. And I’m not alone. Companies are challenged by this everyday. Ask someone to describe GE or IBM and they won’t describe even 10% of what those companies do today.
All companies confront the need to “define” their abilities.
And those who succeed don’t try to be all things to everyone. That doesn’t mean pigeonholing their future, it means highlighting core skills while shedding a little light on their larger range of abilities. By choosing to focus on central strengths, you create clarity and confidence without diluting the big with the little.
A capabilities brochure (in any form) must be a well-written, candid summary of who you are, what you do and why you do it. It’s an essential document for anyone intent on building a strong reputation or validating an existing one. In short, a smart capabilities brochure offers assurances to potential customers, partners and shareholders. It eliminates doubt. It can take many forms: from a simple brochure to a comprehensive “welcome kit.” It is the primary tool for any company looking to build business. Creating this brochure is virtually impossible to do from “inside” the company. An outside perspective is imperative. This new point of view also provides a mediator of sorts allowing everyone to contribute equally without concern about what management might want to hear. Innovative perspectives often come from independent interviews and quiet corners of a company.
Where does the message come from? Many places.
For example, your customer service staff can be a valuable resource for vital content since they are on the frontlines with your best customers. Which leads us to another important resource: your customers. You may be reluctant to approach good customers for a glowing testimonial on how you solve problems and make their jobs easier. We aren’t. We make these calls on your behalf — and we’ve almost never been turned down. The results from these conversations authenticate experience and cement your business’ integrity. It’s also a powerful statement to your customers about how dedicated your business is to customer satisfaction.
Make the truth interesting.
What makes your products or services interesting? Whether you work on the 50th floor or next to the kitchen sink, you are unique, and so is your business. Finding what makes you different is central to “positioning” your business and creating interest. If you want the most obvious example, look at Starbucks Coffee. The coffee is nothing special – but they sure sell it like it is. Beautiful exotic packaging – wonderful environments for meeting and relaxing with comforting music. But the coffee itself is nothing special. Starbucks doesn’t sell coffee – Starbucks sells STARBUCKS! And you should sell YOU!
Don’t automatically think “color.” Show me a typical color brochure and I will make it look second-rate using only black and white. Ultimately, if your brochure doesn’t work in black and white, color won’t save it. Perhaps one color printing sends the message you want. After all the message is always larger than the words on paper or screen. You can do beautiful things with one color. Two color works well too if you know what you’re doing! And besides, in today’s hypervisual – color-everywhere world, black and white just might be the answer to set you apart!
A memorable capabilities brochure can be an important advantage.
If you’re in business and you don’t have a capabilities brochure you’re proud of, you are missing a fundamental business tool. You are attending meetings at a disadvantage and you are sending salespeople into the field with a hope and a prayer. Nothing against prayers, but I’d rather leave a presentation knowing that the brochures I left behind will stand up to any competitor’s and have the power to be taken to coworkers with the following statement, “take a look at this.” Additionally, if I receive a phone inquiry or a chance meeting at a restaurant, I can give them a brochure that will virtually guarantee that I’m invited to present my skills in person. Then you can test your next essential skill: personal express of your businesses products or services. We can help you there too.