Here's the scenario: you're at a gathering, and you come across someone who would be a perfect client for your business. You engage in a conversation, and the inevitable question comes up, “What do you do?”

You get excited, your eyes light up. “This is it, this is my shot, I'll get him now!”

“Well, I am a small business coach,” you say as you anxiously wait for him to tell you how you are the answer to his prayers.

“Oh, I see… uh… I think I left the lights on in my car… uh… it was nice talking to you.”

And you watch your perfect client rush away to find someone else to talk to.

It's important that you communicate what you do in ways that help your prospective client understand that you are a solution to his problem. How you position yourself makes the difference between getting that deer-in-the-headlight look from your prospect—or having him ask you for more information.

Positioning revolves around your core marketing message, which clearly states who you work with, what problems you solve, what solutions you provide, what benefits you offer, what results you produce, what guarantee you give and what is unique and special about your service. Positioning is the foundation that you build the rest of your marketing upon.

Here are two things that you must not do when positioning:

  • Do not use your label. That is a sure-fire way of ending a conversation quickly. Don't tell someone, “I'm a coach.” (They will then say, “What team?”) When you open with your label, yet you conversation still continues, chances are that the other person is merely being polite.

  • Do not use the process. For instance, a coach might say, “I help people discover their excellence by co-creating the positive environment needed for a powerful conversation by having a two-way structured dialogical process that goes beyond basic listening skills and includes multilevel hearing and co-active interaction by the coach.”

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Irene Brooks is Founder and President of