When Buzzwords Turn Into a Buzzkill

Jen Borucki | March 26, 2018

Saw a compelling piece by an event attendee about what value-added really means. They relentlessly prodded staff to define the value their business added. And while the ensuing dialogue was hilarious, it pointed out a huge gap in many elevator pitches.


What is the value of value-added?


My initial response would probably have led to more prodding. “We add value through Single Source Simplicity™ and our focus on the experience.” Because everyone knows what that means.


It’s the problem when you know your business too well. You define it in terms that mean everything to your team, but not necessarily to the other person.


So here is my tutorial on taking the buzzkill out of buzzwords and creating a value-add story that is short, sweet and engaging.


  • Be prepared. Confidence inspires trust, so you need to understand what you do at a very high level and still drill down to the granular. Develop a talk track that is clear and easy to follow – and make sure your staff lives it.


We put this into action through a series of interactive lunch events over the past year where various subject matter experts shared what makes their area of the business unique, especially with respect to new offerings. The series built an internal rapport that painted a picture of what a great experience means in two ways: crafting the ideal partnership experience for our clients and the ideal visitor experience for their guests. It was easy to follow and easy to share.


  • People buy benefits, not features. We should find what we do incredibly sexy – it adds passion and zest, distinguishing us from the competition. But our clients are usually looking for something deeper. Unless they ask for specs, don’t offer a laundry list right off the bat. Your value-add should relate why and how what you do makes a difference. And don’t focus merely on price. Cost is what you pay – value is what you receive.


Here at mg, I might express Single Source Simplicity™ as being the single, all-inclusive partner that has strategically insourced all core functionality to enhance efficiencies and control for our clients. If they ask, I can say – yes, we have in-house design, fabrication in wood, metal, fabrics and graphics, on-site labor, logistics and so forth. But I wouldn’t start there.


Two-way conversation allows for a depth of dialogue that expands with the needs of the listener.


  • Think like a client. This can be the hardest to do, but we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. The biggest value you add to any project is listening. Understanding your buyer’s needs and wants. Relating their objectives to the competitive environment they face. If asked what added-value means, mirror back by probing what they seek in a partner. Then relate your expertise in terms that matter to them.


One of our core values at mg is that we actively listen, observe and absorb so that we can respond with deeper understanding. You can and should make this commitment your own. After all, a person can spend the bulk of a conversation talking about how great they are. Or they can let their listener reach that conclusion for themselves by the honesty, transparency, integrity and consideration the speaker imparts.


That’s value-add in a nutshell. It’s a solutions-based story that puts your listener at the core of the action, speaking to them in ways that not only evoke your expertise – but respects theirs.


Remember, you bring personality to your brand. Be ready to immerse yourself in what matters to the other person and you’ll stand out, on the event floor and beyond. What’s more buzzworthy than that?