I speak frequently before audiences of producers. Often sponsorsof the event are provided an opportunity to give a shortcommercial. Representatives from carriers and general agents troopup to the podium and give their two-to-three minute pitch.Apparently, like Lake Wobegon, the folks who work for theseenterprises are all above average. At least that’s the conclusionone would draw after hearing virtually every sponsor brag that “ourpeople are what makes us different.”

After a while the phrase becomes a sort of talisman, a magicalincantation that conveys a host of deep meaning to the sponsors,but to the audience quickly becomes a boring, trite spiel. Inshort, a waste of time and opportunity. These sponsors may actuallyhave great people. Their marketing message, however, not so much.The question is, if asked to describe our own businesses in twominutes, who among us would do any better?

The goal of marketing, as Al Reis and Jack Trout describe intheir seminal work Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, is to“position your product in the mind of the prospect.” What yourmessage means to you is unimportant. What matters is focusing onwhat the audience cares about and speaking to that interest in away that enables them to grasp and retain your message. Crafting amarketing message that accomplishes this task, one that stands outfrom the crowd, can be challenging. The right structure can makethis process easier and, fortunately, Doug Hall, author of JumpStart Your Business Brain, offers a great framework.

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