Do you ever stumble over your words when someone asks you what you do or what your company does? Do you have your elevator pitch down to a short, 40-word snippet of information that succinctly lets people know who you are and what you offer?

If your answer is no, don’t worry–you’re not the only one.

Many business owners and small to mid-sized businesses have a hard time crafting a positioning statement. Heck, even large companies struggle to get this down to a small statement. It’s much easier to go on and on about the wonderful services you provide and how you don’t really have a “target” audience, but rather, you serve “everyone.”

Don’t do that.

It’s important to position your brand as being strong and knowledgeable. If, when asked, you can’t commit to 40 words that describe your business, you may come across as all over the board (or worse, someone who doesn’t really know the business). Establishing your brand’s 40-word elevator pitch, your brand statement, proves that you’re a viable player in your industry. It’s your way to stake your claim and set yourself apart from the competition.

What is a positioning statement?

Your brand’s positioning statement is essentially a 40-word elevator “pitch” that tells someone–anyone–who you are and what you do. Whether they hear it verbally or read it on your website, your positioning statement is the first impression of information you give to others that provides an overview of your company or brand.

A positioning statement should have the following pieces of information:

  • Type of business
  • What you offer
  • Who you target
  • Why you’re special
  • What value you provide

I know what you’re thinking, “How do you expect me to get all that information into 40 words?” Have no fear! Just for this post, I’ve put together three examples of positioning statements. See if you can figure out where each of the five parts of the 40-word elevator pitch appear:

Positioning statement #1

We are a fitness studio that offers personal training and group exercise classes to individuals in Cincinnati. We’re the only a la carte center in town providing support for healthy lifestyle goals.

Positioning statement #2

We are a CPA firm that offers audit, tax and accounting services to small businesses in the Pensacola area. We support businesses that do not have their own accounting departments, working as part of their team.

Positioning statement #3

I am a certified life coach that provides one-on-one training to stay-at-home moms re-entering the workforce. I have a limited client load in order to provide consult on a more personal level.

The hardest part about setting your positioning statement is brevity. Take time to think about the most important pieces of your business and what sets your brand apart from the competition. If you only had 10 seconds to tell someone the best of what you are and what you do, what would you say?

Test drive your positioning statement

Once you’ve scripted your elevator pitch, take your positioning statement for a test-drive. Try it out on others in your field, colleagues, friends, family and then ask them to recap what you said (you want to find out if what you want to portray is really coming across in your statement). When you’re comfortable with your pitch, share it with everyone in your organization. Make sure that your entire staff understands your brand’s positioning statement and the key points it delivers.

Update the appropriate channels

After your positioning statement is set, don’t forget to use it! Make sure to update all your online media channels–especially the About Us section of your website. You company’s positioning statement should be one of the first things a potential customer or client reads when they click that About Us page. Social media profiles, press release “boiler plates” and brochures are other examples of where to update and set your brand’s positioning statement.

Now it’s your turn. If you haven’t set your brand’s positioning statement, or you’re having a hard time shortening up the answer to “what do you do?” take some time to think about what sets your brand apart and how you can showcase that in your positioning statement.


  1. says

    I detest the cocktail hour phrase, “What do you do?” so much so that I created my own question that so-called victims enjoy answering much better: “What keeps you busy?”

  2. says

    I’ve also been asked, “What are you working on”? It took me by surprise at an event a few weeks ago. Still working on getting in contact with that person who asked such a great thought provoking question.

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