Explaining What Your Company Does? Keep it Simple.

How clearly and concisely can you explain what your company does? It might be harder than you think, as Entrepreneur describes:

Abianne Falla and JennaDee Detro are sisters, and their family has a ranch west of Houston. Like many places in Texas, the land had become dotted with yaupon, a little holly shrub that cattle ranchers treat as a weed. But the sisters looked into the greenery’s history and discovered that it’s the only naturally caffeinated plant native to North America — and it used to be dried, steeped and drunk.

They started harvesting the yaupon and created a company called CatSpring Yaupon Tea. The way they figured it, nobody’s heard of yaupon, but everyone knows tea. And although their drink isn’t technically tea — that word refers to a drink made from the Camellia sinensis shrub — yaupon is made like tea, looks like tea and tastes like tea. So what’s the easiest way to explain what they’re selling? Call it yaupon tea.

That hasn’t sat well with the tea world. At industry functions, tea experts raise their eyebrows and tell them, “Well, you know you’re not selling tea, right?” Serious drinkers have pooh-poohed them to their face, or sent protesting emails. And so, to avoid getting any deeper into a fight she wasn’t looking to pick, Falla refined the way she talks about her product. “My current elevator pitch is ‘We are sustainably wild-harvesting this delicious caffeinated botanical and hand-processing it like a tea,” she says. “We like to say, ‘Yaupon is Texan for tea.’ It’s steeped in hot water but uniquely Texan.”

The yaupon sisters are dealing with a problem befuddling many new companies: How do you best explain what you sell, or what you do? In theory, it should be simple. You built a company, you know it better than anyone else and you understand what sets it apart from its competitors. But unless you join an established industry — open a coffee shop, say, or do custom embroidery — there simply may not be easy words to capture what makes you so special. New products can be hard to describe. New services can seem odd or overly complicated. And unless you figure out precisely how to communicate it all, your marketing plan can become disjointed and slicked with meaningless jargon, and potential customers will pass you by.

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