You've managed to spark potential customers' interest, and they're seeking out specific information about the services your company provides. Terrific!

But before you count those chickens, better take the time to evaluate whether your next step puts you in the best light and entices those potential customers into becoming actual customers.

Enter the service description.

How a business presents its services to potential customers is of paramount importance. And you may get just one shot at it... The services description is where many miss the mark, leaving would-be customers confused, uninformed, or uninterested.

An effective service description provides customers valuable information about what your business offers and what they're getting, including information about cost, timing, and process.

It's also an opportunity to highlight what your business can provide to them that others cannot.

So here are five common service-description mistakes and traps, and suggestions on how to avoid getting caught in them.

Mistake No. 1: Too Long or Too Short

Too long, you risk triggering "glazed eyes" syndrome. Make customers work too hard, and they'll get annoyed or lose interest, plain and simple. Or, worse yet, they may equate that experience with how you'd fulfill your end of the deal: long and drawn out.

Too short, and you may come across as curt, incomplete, or careless. None of which instills confidence.

The fix: Ensure your service description is complete but not tiresome. You may have only a few seconds to hold your viewer's attention, so keep it concise.

Digital descriptions should require little to no scroll (mobile considerations aside). If your business uses hard copies for in-person meetings or as part of a sales kit, keep it to one page or less.

Mistake No. 2: Failure to Include Your Mission, Purpose, or Promise

Your website design is well constructed and includes comprehensive content. Among other valuable information accessible via the homepage is your company's mission. Your purpose and goals are present and articulated.

However... there's no carryover of that message where your service description appears.

"But we've already covered that," you may say. "Must it really be restated?"

Yes! Omitting mention of your business's reason for existence as part of your service description is a missed opportunity.

Moreover, there's even the potential to appear impolite. Think about it: You're saying, "Hire me." The customer should feel enticed... yet comfortable that you're not just about the transaction. You need to remind them that there are humans driving the process that care about the outcome and will work to ensure success.

The fix: If you haven't yet zeroed in on a key expression or tagline that gets the gist across, summarize or rephrase your mission, purpose, or promise in a fresh way that captures the essence and communicates the main idea.

Doing so is an appropriate lead-in to a service description, re-emphasizing your brand's message and promise. Though cutting to the chase may be inherently desirable, a simple rephrasing at the beginning or as part of the body of your service description reinforces the message, framing your services within customer-friendly context.

It may even act as a buffer, softening any overly logistical or fee-driven language, reminding the customer that your primary purpose for being is to be the solution for their business challenges.

Mistake No. 3: Under- or Over-Selling

A service description is the forum for laying your cards out on the table.

Some may feel a desire to pull back to take a more modest approach; as a result, they may leave things unsaid, increasing the potential to be overlooked or undervalued. Others may come across as too aggressive, and risk inflating capabilities or accomplishments.

The fix: Certainly, the messaging within your description should align with your brand's voice and overall marketing and brand strategy. Other factors will also have an impact, such as industry and competitor considerations. However, work to find that sweet spot between too much restraint and not enough. Keep in mind there's a difference between enthusiastic and overzealous.

Mistake No. 4: Lack of Continuity

Your service description jumps around too much; it's disorganized or poorly conceived.

The fix: You're looking for some level of order and cohesive flow. Consider the description a menu of sorts: Offerings should be appealing and clear, in an arrangement that makes sense. If you offer a wide range of services, categorize and group them.

Feel free to more prominently feature signature services or service packages, or those with the highest ROI. Then fill in the remaining services smoothly and in a logical progression.

Mistake No. 5: Boring!

That is... dull, drab, lifeless, rote.

True, a service description is utilitarian; but that doesn't mean it should lack creativity, personality, or character.

The fix: Explore ways to express creativity, ingenuity, or (simply) an original perspective or outlook. To keeping the descriptions "clean," play with format, design, and language. The result should make it clear that a high level of thought and strategy has gone into the service offering, with a good deal of flavor filtered in along the way.

Two Bonus Tips

1. Numbers are good

Using numbers to quantify your business's experience, expertise, reach, or successes is a good way to simply but effectively convey that you are worthy of a new customer's business. For example:

  • "We've supported over 4,500 customers across the globe to save over $5 billion in lost revenue."
  • "With over 30 years in the business, we understand your needs."
  • "Growing our subscribers to over 40,000..."
  • "Offering more than 20 products to over 250 companies..."

2. Transparency is valuable

Your customers want and deserve to have a clear understanding of what to expect from you.

Though it's perfectly reasonable at this description stage to opt out of including pricing or details related to additional services, add-ons, customized arrangements, or special circumstances, be as up front as possible.

Even a twinge of evasiveness may send a potential customer packing.

* * *

Position your business for success and demonstrate you value your customers' time and attention by presenting an entirely clear, concise, and cohesive service description with a sensible, on-brand style.

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How to Write Killer Services Descriptions: Five Mistakes and Their Fixes

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image of Gillian Vallee

Gillian Vallee is a multichannel marketing professional, working with organizations on strategic marketing initiatives to create and improve brand positioning and revenue generating programs.

LinkedIn: Gillian Vallee