One of the most quick and easy small business tools is a ‘Communications Toolkit’ – a repository of words, images and ideas that’s always ready with your best openers, lines, written examples and pictures of your work.
The key is to make sure your Communications Toolkit is firmly rooted in your business plan; you must have internal consistency between what you say you do and what you actually do.
How it works
Assuming you have a corporate identity (logo, letterhead, etc):
Write out the main benefits of what you do. These can be up to four or five short paragraphs about why someone would choose your business. This relates to the competitive advantage you have identified in your business planning – the reason your business will survive. Try not to make these stuffy or pompous – express clearly what you would say to someone on the street or over coffee who asked you “what’s so good about you then?”
Using your business plan as a guide (yes, you’ve been good, haven’t you?), rework your vision, mission or business goal as a statement about what you stand for. If you’re a soloist, you’re already specialising in something. Try to turn the essence of this into a slogan: the source for x/expert in y, or similar.
Next develop an elevator statement – a short, sharp summary of your business that could be delivered in the time it takes to go a couple of floors in an elevator.
Think hard about what you stand for and what the messages are that you want to use that reinforce. This is an essential element of your toolkit.
Add to it a couple of your best examples. Practice these every time you talk or write about your business. Soon enough, it becomes second nature and your enterprise starts to sound really grown up!
The trick: think about the values once; roll out the messages as many times as possible!
Want more articles like this? Check out the Public relations, PR section.
Assemble some of your best examples of work; jobs you’ve done that really demonstrate how you think, act and relate to people. Choose around three of these and write a short case study on each. Write down the client, the job title, the brief and the solution you created or whatever specifications that suit you. Use ‘sell’ language and keep it lively. Include testimonials if you have them, if you don’t, why not ask for clients for testimonials?
Find some images of those three jobs: examples of the work in progress, examples of the finished product – whatever suits your profession.
Collect these together in a Communications Toolkit folder on your computer or filing system.
That’s it – you have compiled one of your most useful small business tools! Now you’re ready to respond when someone calls, emails or writes to you asking for a business synopsis or capability statement. You can choose from this master list of benefits, examples and pictures. Together with a profile of your enterprise, you’ve got an instant message to send.
You could use your Communications Toolkit to scope out a website for your business. The toolkit would provide the bare-bones structure and internal logic that you need. You could prepare a one-page flyer and attach it to submissions or proposals. Chop it down and use it in advertising. Get a designer to work their magic and turn it into a brochure.
Think you can’t do it? Think again. You’re the most passionate advocate for what you do. You know your market inside out. You know what your clients want.
It doesn’t have to be literary award-winning material. It does, however, need to reflect you and what you stand for. It would help to let someone you trust look over your kit contents. Constructive criticism can unearth some really important issues that may not come up otherwise.
Let it flow and see what you come up with. Often the process is more revealing than it seems!