Have you ever gone blank, stuttered, or felt entirely awkward when trying to answer the question, “So, what do you do?”

I used to do this all the time when I first started my practice as a professional coach. Since then, I’ve studied messaging with many different business coaches, and one of the formulae I love the most comes from Mark Silver and Heart of Business’s powerful course, Your One Compelling Sentence. In this article, I’ll share my takeaways from Mark’s course with you. (Though I also recommend checking it out for yourself!)

Your One Compelling Sentence

Here is Mark Silver’s very effective formula for talking about what you do:

“I help DEMOGRAPHIC PSYCHOGRAPHIC people who struggle with THE PROBLEM.”

Let’s explore what each of these pieces—demographic, psychographic, and problem—entails.


Demographics are the social categories people identify with. They’re observable physical and social traits that anyone could use to identify someone.

Demographics can include age, gender, race, ethnicity, relationship status, sexuality, family role, occupation, education level, geographic location, religious affiliation, or concrete actions people partake in (flying once a month, driving a Volvo, being a vegetarian, etcetera).

Naming a demographic can be helpful for two reasons.

First, people are surprisingly (and often unconsciously) attached to their identities.

Directly naming an important part of an individual’s identity can help them feel seen, understood, and safe.

Second, it is much easier for other people to pass you referrals when they have a specific demographic in mind.

For example, I’m part of a networking group where every member stands up at the weekly meeting and asks for a referral. The key is to speak with as much specificity about the ideal referral that other members should be trying to pass you. It’s much easier for them to identify a healing arts practitioner or a nonprofit director (because these are demographics, which are observable) than it is for them to identify someone who wants to make a big difference in the world (because this is a psychographic).

To be completely honest, I care less about demographics than what my clients believe in and value, but I’ve learned that I’m more apt to get referrals when I can name a specific demographic.

One more thing about demographics.

You do not need to identify a whole list of demographics. For example, you don’t need to define a specific age group, gender, sexual orientation, or education status, if that feels irrelevant to you. What you do need to do is to choose at least one demographic group that your clients identify with and that is easily recognizable to people who want to pass you referrals. For example, you may get as specific as “nonprofit executive directors” or “healers in the first three years of their career,” or you may be as general as “women” or “men.” If that’s a specific as you can get, that’s okay.


Psychographics are the beliefs, feelings, and values a person self-identifies with. They’re not immediately observable, and from the outside, you’d only identify them in another person through a more intimate conversation. Although they may be related, they’re different from the person’s pain or struggle. Rather, they are positive and inspiring.

Psychographics are a vitally important part of your message because beliefs and values ultimately drive peoples’ actions and decisions. Potential clients need to resonate with you on this level to trust and like you.

The Problem

The problem is the area of your ideal clients’ lives that they are stuck around. It’s a task, project, or goal that they’ve been unable to make progress with on their own. When you can name the problem in their language, you have their full attention.

While you may offer several services that help solve many different problems, to easefully answer the question, “So what do you do?” it’s helpful to identify one problem that you can speak to. There are two ways to do this.

First, you can look for one top-level problem that captures all the other problems you help solve. For example, I often tell folks that I work with clients who aren’t completely fulfilled in their careers. Or, you can identify a fundamental problem that doesn’t cover everything but is something that most of your best clients struggle with. For example, a professional organizer might say, “most of my clients struggle with ADD and ADHD.”

Putting It All Together

Finally, you can put it all together with a simple formula.

“I help DEMOGRAPHIC who want PSYCHOGRAPHIC and struggle with PROBLEM.”


Of, “I help DEMOGRAPHIC who struggle with PROBLEM and want PSYCHOGRAPHIC.”

As you can see, there are several variations on this formula, but the key thing is to keep it simple and not add anything else.

So, there you go, a very simple and practical way to answer that age-old question— “So what do you do?” To receive more personalized support in crafting your marketing message, check out our business coaching services. It would be an honor to help you get your message out to the world!




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