What are your eight words?


Can you fluently describe what your business’ unique selling proposition (USP) is? What makes you stand out from your competitors? If you say it’s the quality of your service or product, or your quick turnaround time, isn’t that exactly what they are also saying?

If you were to describe what it is that your business does in eight words, what would you say? Would your answer sound the same as the receptionist or intern’s answer? How does it compare to the person that has been with the company for ten years or more?

If you took time to ask everyone in your organisation, you might be quite surprised to find out what the rest of your team are saying. What your team is saying, becomes the the message that is communicated internally and externally, to friends, customers and other stakeholders. It has a direct impact on how your business is perceived and influences your company’s reputation. The perception of what your company does is not necessarily the truth, but it is that person’s reality which becomes their opinion that is communicated to people around them.

A few years back I realised with a shock that we didn’t have a succinct USP, our ‘eight words’ were all rather muddled. I recall asking the team to share a voice note with me describing what we do in eight words. Everyone’s voice note was quite different and varied a lot in length. Clearly, we definitely needed clarity on our eight words.

I really didn’t want to dictate what the eight words should be and I believe in being collaborative and involving the team in key decisions. If everyone is on board and gives their inputs, the chances of them buying into it, and adopting it as their own, are much greater. So at the next strategy session, we set time aside to work out what our eight words are, combing the USP and our vision. The reason for this is so that when we share our USP, we automatically share the bigger vision of expanding operations into the rest of Africa as well. Our agreed eight words: Africa’s go to reputation specialists building resilient businesses.

At your next team meeting, why not ask everyone to take a few minutes to write down what they consider it is that the business does.

There are a number of reasons it is so important to be clear in your offering:

1.     If you are fluent at what you do, it is so much easier to explain it to someone else and for them to understand and welcome it;

2.     Target your sales effort: knowing exactly what it is that you do makes it a lot easier to identify opportunities that you want to focus on which are aligned to your core services. You will also feel a lot less guilty saying ‘no’ to work that does not fit into your core offering;

3.     It helps you to identify growth opportunities;

4.     Your reputation is built upon what is communicated internally and externally. When everyone sings from the same hymn sheet and consistently sends out the same message, you are all building your company’s reputation. Keep in mind that reputations are all about consistency; you are either consistently good (building a positive reputation) or consistently inconsistent (building a negative reputation). If your core message is inconsistent, and all over the place, your service offering will most likely also be all over the place as everyone has their own version of what they should be doing. The more consistent you and your team are, the more solid your reputation will be;

While you are crafting your eight words, it is also a good idea to review your communication material and check that everything aligns to the eight word principal of describing your business. Also remember to check your internal messages and don’t neglect your induction pack for new employees. Consider finding out what your other key stakeholders think your business does, because it will help you to know if you need to re-align key messages and identify gaps in your communication initiatives.

To continue the reputation management discussion, visit www.reputationmatters.co.za or call +27 21 790 0208 or mail research@reputationmatters.co.za. We are also on Facebook www.facebook.com/yourreputationmatters and Twitter @ReputationIsKey

About Regine le Roux

Regine le Roux is the founder and managing director of Reputation Matters. She is a corporate reputation specialist who completed her Communication Management Honours degree Cum Laude at the University of Pretoria in 2001. She completed her MCom within a year. Regine founded Reputation Matters in 2005 and is particularly proud of the work that they do in the reputation measurement space with their reputation measurement tool, the Repudometer®, that they’ve developed and won numerous awards for. It is one of the first tools that has been developed to quantify an organisation’s reputation. Regine is the author of: Reputation Matters, Building blocks to becoming the business people want to do business with (ISBN 978 1920526429).


About Reputation Matters

Reputation Matters has been providing customised reputation research and management solutions since its inception in 2005. The company is 100% woman-owned and a Level 4 exempted micro-enterprise BBBEE contributor.

Reputation Matters believes that if you treasure your reputation, you will measure it and are very proud of their proprietary reputation research tool, the Repudometer®. The model scientifically measures and quantifies organisations’ reputations based on an assessment of ten elements. The Repudometer® assists organisations in understanding who their stakeholders are, what perceptions each stakeholder group has of the organisation, and how to implement results-oriented, research-based communication solutions that help take their reputations to the next level.

Reputation Matters’ vision is to be Africa’s go-to reputation specialists, building businesses that people want to do business with. The values that drive this vision are excellence always in all ways, respect, authenticity and growth.

Reputation Matters have offices in Gauteng and the Western Cape.

For more information about Reputation Matters, visit www.reputationmatters.co.za or call 021 790 0208. Reputation Matters is also on Facebook (www.facebook.com/yourreputationmatters) and Twitter (@ReputationIsKey).