What? You Havent Got a Capability Statement?
What's a Capability Statement?
As the name suggests, it tells potential clients what you, or your organisation and staff are capable of. It highlights what your future capability is and reflects on your past successes.
Capability statements are usually produced as brochures or booklets and are now increasingly appearing in online formats eg, HTML, PDF and self-executable ebooks. (The Entrepreneur Magazine section of "The Weekend Australian" of 25 Feb 2005 ran an article advising that legal and other professional firms are now using electronic media for their capability information). Include your logo, corporate colours and graphics so that your market develops corporate identity and branding recognition.
Some organisations and individuals prefer to call them Corporate Brochures, Organisational Profiles, Prospectus' etc. Capability Statement seems to be the preferred terminology and is, in my opinion, more accurate and descriptive.
The better Capability Statements produced as printed documents are graphics intense, professionally laid out and attractively produced on hiqh quality papers. The simplest form can be produced in black and white or colour on a cheap laser or inkjet printer.
Why have a Capability Statement?
When prospective clients enquire about your services or products, you send them a Capability Statement. If they visit your Internet site and don't want to spend time reading about you and your organisation, they can download your Capability Statement file and read it when more convenient.
Clients may pass your capability statement to others when recommending your services. You can send one with your proposals, publicity materials, and on other occasions when the opportunity presents.
Clients may have dealt with you for years, but only buy the same service. They may have no idea you also provide other services they could use. Your Capability Statement spells out what you can do in addition to what you do for them now.
If you don't tell people what you do, how can you expect them to call you when they want something done?
What's in a Capability Statement?
It's not a dumb question! There are two trains of thought. One suggests that it should be chock full of verbage about how you can help your clients or prospective clients. The other view is that you simply tell them what you can do and let them decide whether they want your services.
The latter option would suggest you include the following topics and any others you feel are relevant, not necessarily in the order shown:
History: When did your firm commence operations and what has it done since commencement? (Keep it very, very short and succinct)
What You Do: What can you do for clients or what do you sell? Do you need any special accreditations, certificates or licences to do what you do? If so, mention them.
Our Staff: Who is your staff and what special qualifications, experience, awards etc has each staff member got that will help you provide services that are better than your competitors?
Your Equipment or Resources: If you are renting training venues, hiring out equipment, or rely on resources to earn a living, place some photos in your brochures. As some smart fellow said, 'A photo tells a thousand words'.
Similarly if you have a special way of doing something, try to find evidence that supports it as being the best way, most economical, safest or whatever. For example, if you clean carpets for a living you'll need to use cleaning materials that don't cause fade, are not noxious, don't harm animals or plants, are environmentally friendly and so on. You get the drift.
Where You Find Us: Where is your office, venue, factory, or whatever? How does your client find you? Do you need to include a map?
Contacting Us: Where can you be contacted by phone, fax, mobile telephone, letter, or email? Do you have an Internet site? Where?
Client Testimonials: You can place a list of your clients here under the heading 'Clients' or you can write to your clients and ask them to provide testimony to the quality, cost effectiveness, or whatever of your service. Several of your longer term clients may be willing to accept telephone calls from people who are considering buying your goods or services. If so, include their contact details so that potential clients can talk with them.
While a few, carefully chosen testimonials are good, too many can bog down an otherwise excellent Capability Statement. Don't make it look like a testimonial contest! Nobody will read more than five or six.
Once you have your Capability Statement, whether online, in hardcopy or both, make sure you have sufficient copies to circulate and a plan to upgrade it periodically so it remains current. After all, the last thing you want is for a prospective client to telephone you about a service you no longer provide.
Copyright Robin Henry 2005.
Robin Henry is an educator, human resources specialist and Internet marketer whose firm, Desert Wave Enterprises, helps individuals and businesses improve their performance by using smart processes, smart technology and personal development. He lives at Alice Springs In Central Australia.
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