We live, work, and compete in markets where you must be more like a laser than a floodlight, more like a gazelle than an elephant. In today’s complex and competitive business environment, three critical factors form a mantra for success: “Make it short, fast, and direct!”

Our customers, employees, and stakeholders are very busy. Our world is peppered with message blasts, pop-ups, and sound bites. Our ears, eyes, and brains are fed with succinct, yet focused messages and images. To get our story told, to get our message through, we need to adhere to the KISS principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Most start-up entrepreneurs are familiar with the need for a well-crafted, succinct “elevator speech.” But it can also apply to executives and employees in large organizations, even professionals like doctors, lawyers, and accountants, or for individuals looking for that ideal job or career opportunity.

Imagine the scene: an intrepid entrepreneur with a great idea and a great market opportunity needs critical outside investment. Lo and behold, the entrepreneur finds him/herself walking into an elevator with only one other passenger--THE prime investor who the entrepreneur has been trying to connect with for months. As the elevator doors close, the entrepreneur knows there will be undivided attention to his/her story. So what does the entrepreneur say during the 20 or 30 seconds of an elevator ride?

We can apply the principles of an elevator speech to almost any situation where we must tell our story in a few brief moments. It may be at a networking event, a cocktail party, or during the first critical 20 seconds of a phone call to a prospective client, employer, or constituent. The “story” should basically tell: 1) what you do, produce, or provide; 2) who it is for (the market niche you serve); and 3) how are you different than the rest.

We also need to make our messages direct, and this is where we’ve got to be more like a laser. There is a world of clutter and noise, and we can’t afford to fritter away marketing costs. Scattered or shotgun approaches are costly, inefficient, and unproductive. We must fine-tune our marketing strategy to find overlooked niches (e.g., travel agents focusing on travel services for seniors), or exploit underserved segments (e.g., audio books underserved by large chain booksellers). By being direct, we also focus on serving fewer but more profitable customers. We emphasize “share of customer” rather than “share of market.”

There are few businesses that would not benefit by using the Web as a means of reaching their target markets more directly. The Web provides an effective way to develop a relationship with your market in a direct, dynamic, and highly productive way. When we develop a community of customers or constituents, we have a highly efficient, low-cost way to foster profitable relationships.

There are great opportunities to advance your business, if you keep it short, fast, and direct!

    Steven Stralser Ph.D. is a Trump University faculty member and author of MBA in a DAY, published by John Wiley & Sons (www.mbainaday.com)
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