From the April 2000 issue of Entrepreneur

Question: I market affordable legal plans. But people seem confused about what I do. Any suggestions?

Reginald Young
Ada, Oklahoma

Answer: Making sure people understand exactly what you do and how that can benefit them is the key to effective marketing. It seems like a simple task, but often it's quite challenging. Your initial goal is not to explain what pre-paid legal services are, but to awaken an awareness of the need for such services in the minds of your prospective clients and trigger their interest in finding out more about your business.

You need a "File-Opening Soundbyte," which is a quick and simple way to introduce what you do-be it in person, in print or on the Web-to create an instant "Ah-ha, that's just what I need," as we describe in our book Getting Business to Come to You (Putnam Publishing Group).

The best Soundbyte begins with a question that immediately connects what you do to your prospect's problem or desire. For example, you could ask, "You know how you'd like to consult a lawyer on some small-business matter sometimes, but you're afraid it'll cost too much?" or "Don't you hate signing a business contract that leaves you wondering what's buried in the small print?"

To test your Soundbyte, observe people's reactions to the situation you're presenting. They might nod or say, "I know what you mean!" Once you see you've hit a nerve, it's time to explain quickly and simply how you solve that problem or meet that need.

In your case, you might conclude your Soundbyte with something like, "Well, my service provides a low-cost way to have a lawyer on-call whenever you need legal advice-no question's too large or too small. It's like having your own in-house lawyer." Or you could say, "Well, I provide a service that answers your legal questions for one low-cost annual fee. It's like having your own lawyer on retainer."

Experiment with a variety of Soundbytes until you find one that hits home with your prospective clients. Then you can use your Soundbyte as a centerpiece for all your marketing activities.


Small-business experts Paul and Sarah Edwards recently released their second edition of Getting Business To Come To You (Putnam Publishing Group). If you have a question regarding a start-up business issue, contact them at http://www.paulandsarah.com or send it in care of Entrepreneur.