A couple months ago, I was approached by an acquaintance who was expanding his business to the East Coast and was curious if I’d like to earn some extra money by devoting a bit of time to it. I said I was interested and asked if he would just forward on some information. He politely declined, and said for competitive reasons he would prefer to speak on the phone. It felt rather odd to me, but I agreed and gave him my phone number.
We missed each other a few times over the last few months – mostly my fault due to being ridiculously busy, but we finally connected last week. We caught up a bit on our personal lives and my having moved from Kansas City to Boston, and then started talking shop. What ensued was a rather frustrating conversation from my end, that I’m fairly certain was some sort of scam.
Me: “So what does your business do?”
Him: “We provide social media marketing assistance for companies.”
“Oh, okay, so what does that mean?”
“Well, you know how Facebook works with advertising affiliates? Like, Mark Zuckerburg will partner with companies to provide them marketing.”
“Oh, so you help companies with their social media advertising?”
“Well, not really, we help them get involved with social media”
“I’m still confused”
“Well, we work with companies like: Big Company 1 and Big Company 2.”
“Okay…so for instance, with Big Company 1, what do you do?”
“Well, I could talk about this for hours, but I just need to know if you are interested. If you aren’t interested, its probably not worth going into.”
At that point, I politely declined. I’m HEAVILY involved in social media, advertising, SEO and SEM. It’s my job to be…yet I have no earthly idea what he was talking about, and he couldn’t provide one cogent example of what his company does. This is a crucial example of why a startup needs to have a succinct elevator pitch that explains your company and its benefits in a minute or less. And per my post yesterday about refining your market message, if you can’t answer the question “Who cares?” then your job isn’t done.
[image courtesy of jepoirrier]