What business are you really in?

The best marketing explains how a business does one or more of these three things:

1.    Meets a need

2.    Solves a problem

3.    Fulfils a fantasy.

To help you get clear on what needs you are meeting, problems you are solving or fantasies your are fulfilling, it helps to know what emotional benefits you are delivering.

I find that most entrepreneurs can answer questions about what they do with a degree of certainty.

·      Hairdresser: I cut hair.

·      Mechanic: I fix cars.

·      Travel agent: I book holidays for people.

·      Photographer: I take photos of people’s weddings.

·      Baker: I bake bread.

·      Fashion retailer: I sell women’s clothing.

These sorts of, er… pedestrian responses are fine. Except that they don’t capture the emotional benefits they are delivering. They don’t explain what needs they are meeting, problems they are solving or fantasies they are fulfilling.

To do that, we need to first understand what business we are really in.

·      Hairdresser: I help people feel more confident, brave and strong.

·      Mechanic: I keep people safe on the roads so they can return home to their families each day.

·      Travel agent: I help create adventures, experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.

·      Photographer: I capture and conserve beautiful moments in time.

·      Baker: I nourish and comfort people through aromatic smells, sights and textures.

·      Fashion retailer: I help women find and express their true style.

Knowing the emotional benefits your business delivers is crucial. It will help you to form more authentic, personal connections with current/prospective customers and ensure you know how you are different from every other business out there.


1.    Write down what your business does in a practical sense.

Example: Hairdresser – I cut hair.

2.    What’s the benefit of that?

Example: People feel more stylish and attractive.

3.    And what’s the benefit of that?

Example: People feel more confident. Their self-esteem is boosted.

4.    And what’s the benefit of that?

Example: My customers are more willing to do the things they really want to do. They are braver and more certain. They feel stronger.

5.    So the emotional benefit of my business is…

Example: I help people feel more confident, brave and strong.

So, tell me, what do YOU do?

Karen Foster is a former journalist-turned-marketer who works with small business and larger corporations to find their authentic marketing voice.