servicesclutter160You know what happens when someone tries to make a joke and it falls flat … an awkward silence as everyone tries to figure out if they ought to be laughing? I’ve been hanging around some comedy clubs lately and this happens a lot.

Sometimes the punch line is weak. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with the punch line, but the set-up is missing. You have no context to appreciate the joke. (“Oh, I forgot to say, we were doing it at Wal-Mart…”)

Recently I got invited to promote a new product, apparently a piece of software. The call to action – the punch line – was great. The marketer made several promises, such as promising “the most amazing piece of software for [this application] you’ve ever seen.” They even say it will “change online business forever.”

I’d love to promote this software because i’m sure it’s good, but I’m not ready to promise something revolutionary till I’ve got more details.

The marketers have figured out the punch line – the benefits – but they haven’t set up the scene. It’s a very common mistake, even among veterans.

Think how many times you’ve read promises to take your life, business and/or relationship to the next level (whatever that means). Think about how often you’re encouraged to explain your business in terms of benefits (“I help busy people reduce stress”) but not identify your title.

Today especially people want to peek behind the curtain and see what makes the service work. They don’t need to walk through the whole process but they’d like to know (before they pay) if they’ll be doing yoga head stands, inhaling soothing aromas, or calling a coach every week.

By the way, if you’d like some help describing your own services, stop by and visit here.