by Tiffany Markman on 13/09/12 at 4:56 pm
If you’re reading the title of this post and thinking ‘my corporate what?!?’, it’s possible that you need a bit of extra help – drop me a line for an explanation.
If you already have (or have rough notes for) a brief profile on your company or brand, whether it’s digital or printed, check it carefully for 5 must-mentions:
- Your central elevator pitch
- A list of products / services
- A convincing reason for the reader to choose you
- The fine details of the company
- A clear and compelling call to action
A few quick rules for corporate profiles
Before we start, here are the basic rules that guide me when I write profiles for clients:
- A corporate profile should never be longer than 2 pages. Longer than that and it’s a brochure. Not every company needs a brochure, but every company needs a profile.
- You don’t always need a printed profile, but you always need a digital (PDF) one.
- Digital profiles should be low enough resolution for you to email and high enough resolution for the recipient to print.
- Microsoft Word is an amateurish format in which to share corporate profiles. There are loads of free Word-to-PDF converters online, so edit in Word and save as PDF.
- The content is more important than the ‘pretty’. Words are the sales engine. Having said that, try to get a pro to design it for you or download a template from the web.
And now, onto the actual content…
1 – Your central elevator pitch
The Introduction or Overview section of a corporate profile is where you provide a tiny bit of positioning context on the company as a whole. The key word here is ‘tiny’ and that’s the challenge – keeping this initial statement super-short.
Ask yourself what you’d tell someone standing next to you in a lift, if they asked about your company’s offering. Complete this sentence, ‘In a nutshell, our company…’ If you can’t read the sentence aloud in 60 seconds, it’s too long.
[Note: This is a good time to start thinking about what you want your profile’s call to action to be later on. So, if you’re the type of person who reads the end of the novel first, skip to #5 below and come back to #2 afterwards.]
2 – A list of products/services
I can’t tell you how many corporate profiles I see in which the same cardinal error is made: not specifying, early on, the list of products or services on offer.
There’s lots of waffle about service excellence and customer focus, but not nearly enough simple reference to what the business actually does to make money.
Even if you have separate flyers or product sheets that accompany your corporate profile, please include a short list of products or services in the profile itself.
Complete this sentence, ‘Our business [provides / sells / offers / specialises in]…” If there’s space, you can add a sentence or two about each item on the list, but be strict about length and detail. Remember: this whole document is just a teaser.
3 – A convincing reason for the reader to choose you
If section #2 (products / services) deals with the features of your business, section #3 should cover the benefits; in other words, what it is about your business that differentiates you from your competition.
Great service is all very well, but it’s not enough. Everyone promises great service, even those who offer awful service. You’ve got to take it one step further. And don’t use the word ‘unique’. Email me for my ‘Un-Boring Adjectives for Businesspeople’.
4 – The fine details of the company
Much like an ‘About us’ page on a website, this section of a corporate profile can have multiple (short) inclusions, like:
- Location of headquarters
- Operational area*
- Size of team
- Years of experience
- Origins of company
- Executive / management overview
- BEE status
- Accreditations, awards or accolades
- Philosophy / methodology*
* Please note:
- Your ‘operational area’ can be approached in three ways: as a) as the geographical area in which you work, b) the extent of your company’s footprint (local, regional, national, global, digital) or c) your industry sector or niche.
- You may be wondering where ‘mission, vision and values’ are. Um, nowhere. No-one reads them, which is why I traditionally include them in website copy, but not on corporate profiles. However, if you must share your values with prospective clients or customers, call them something else, like ‘Our philosophy’.
5 – A clear and compelling call to action
Even though this is the final section, and the last must-have on my list, it’s the most important part of a profile: this is where you tell the reader what should happen next.
Take some time before you start revising your existing profile, or creating your new one, to think about your objectives. Would you like your corporate profile to:
- Introduce your company?
- Share information?
- Educate your prospect?
- Convince them to act?
- Entertain them in some way?
- Impress them/wow them?
…or some combination of these? Whatever you decide, you should be completely clear in your own mind and at the end of the document about how they should reply:
- Call you for an appointment.
- Drop you a line.
- Visit your website for more.
If possible, only request that they take a single action. Call, email, browse. Just one. But give details for all points of contact.
And that’s it. Good luck.
Questions? Comments? Contention? Let’s have it.
Tiffany Markman is a freelance web and print copywriter, editor and trainer who works for diverse clients, large and small, in South Africa and overseas. She writes regularly for Bizcommunity, tweets prolifically, reads voraciously and is known as a grammar, plain language and SEO nazi. Give Tiffany a shout on 082 492 1715 or visit her website. You can also sign up for Tiffany's newsletter here. View more articles by Tiffany Markman.