Marketing Through Vignettes

Antique Greek OratorHave you ever struggled to describe what you do so your prospective clients really hear you? Do they look at your web site and say “Oh, that’s nice” or do they immediately recognize you as the person who can help solve their most important problem?

One way to talk about your services memorably is by telling a story. My 10-Vignettes Exercise, which takes no more than an hour or two to complete, helps clarify how you describe who you are and what you do for your clients. And if you don’t have any clients yet, use this as an exercise to picture your prospective clients.

Here’s how it works:
Write 10 stories, each of no more than three sentences or about 100 words. Each story will describe a situation a client is in, what the client got from you at the end, and how the client benefited. You don’t discuss how you did the work, what resources you used, or even what kind of work you did. The truth is that your clients don’t care what you do or how you do it. They just want you to solve their problem.

These vignettes don’t have to describe actual client situations; in fact, they should be sufficiently anonymized that a client would not recognize her own project. Provide examples of what happens after your clients engage you. And while you’re at it, include the budget you think represents the value you offer your clients for this kind of work.

Here’s what a vignette might look like.

[describe your client’s situation] My client was considering moving into the organic personal care market.

[describe what your client gets from you] I provided my client with a customized analysis of the market, with the key issues and strongest competitors highlighted.

[describe what the client does as a result of your work] My client decided to focus on organic baby care products, realizing this was the one area in which they had a clear advantage.

[describe the budget] My client paid $6,000 for this report. (Don’t include this last item in your marketing material; just use it to stay focused on how you can provide the highest value to your clients.)

The virtue of this exercise is that it takes the focus away from you and your services and puts the attention to where it belongs – what your client values. An additional benefit is that you can put these vignettes up on your web site; they are a far more effective way to showcase your value than just listing your services.