How to Write an Elevator Pitch
I am one of those small business owners who has never bothered much with the traditional business processes. However, as the business has grown, I have started to find that the processes and business tools that business owners always talk about are becoming more and more necessary.
The elevator pitch is just one of those tools that I ignored, so when it came to actually writing an elevator pitch for a project we are currently working on I totally underestimated how challenging it would be. So I thought I would share my experience and all the finer points of writing a pitch to help anyone who is struggling with the process.
How to write an Elevator Pitch
While I am great at helping my clients determine their unique selling points and elevator pitches, I have never formalised these details for my own business and sitting down to write one left me at a sudden loss for what to say.
So I started from the beginning. I gathered together everything we had previously written for my own organisation and then did what any person in my position would do – I asked Google. A coupld of hours of research later, and I set out to construct the perfect 60 second elevator video. The video can be found here: In the Elevator with Chocolate Shoebox
Why an Elevator Pitch?
As I mentioned, I am not a stickler for traditional processes and I’m not an “entrepreneur”, so I’ll probably be never looking for investors or to sell my business – unless somebody wants to offer me a couple of million for it one day (Any offers?). So why bother with an elevator pitch?
Primarily an elevator pitch is a great way for you to succinctly verbalise what you do. I met one of my biggest clients at a dinner party and I’d like to think they signed on as a client because I managed to relay what we do over starters – without talking for so long that he lost the will to live.
An elevator pitch needs to be outlined, rehearsed and worked on so that the next time you are at a dinner party, wedding or networking function and somebody says “so what do you do?” you have something brilliant and worthwhile to say.
The goal of your pitch is to get the ball rolling; to start a conversation with your audience that will keep them interested in what you have to say.
In order to achieve this I think there are a few golden rules to consider:
- Don’t “sell” yourself or your product – no one is really that interested in you, so make sure your pitch is solutions focused and if possible tells a story.
- Tone your elevator pitch according to you audience – make sure you are not using industry jargon in an informal environment. It’s boring. Remember your elevator pitch is something your mother should be able to understand.
- Have a couple of versions – you are going to be networking in a number of different environments – the dinner party version is very different to bank manager version.
- Make sure you have some sort of call to call to action – don’t assume if a potential lead seems interested that they will ask you to take action. I nearly lost the client at that dinner because we were in an informal setting and I forgot to ask if I could call him. Fortunately I thought about as we were leaving and got his contact details.
- Practice makes perfect – this message is the core of all your sales efforts. Everyone in your team needs to be able to “recite” this message in one version or another at any time.
- The operative word is conversation – let the person you are talking to speak. Being able to deliver your elevator pitch well is important, but it is even more important to hear what your potential lead has to say. The best elevator pitch is one that is part of a natural conversation between two parties interested in possibly working together – make sure to keep an eye out for the INTERESTED part, you never want to be that guy who does nothing but go on and on about his business.
The W’s the P’s and The C’s
There are many different catchy ways to remember what need to be covered in an elevator pitch. I like the W’s best.
Who you are
This you should be able to do in one sentence – yes just one sentence. It is your positioning statement and should say who you are and what you do for your clients. It’s not easy, so once you have gotten this part down try it out on a few clients, friends etc. to see if it makes sense.
Eg: “We are an outsourced marketing solutions agency that partners with small and medium sized organisations to help them define and achieve their marketing goals.”
What you do
This is the part where jargon and big fancy words are most likely to creep in – and in some cases it is hard to keep them out, especially if they are describing a service. The easiest way to do this is write down what you do and then say it aloud. If a word or sentence feels unnatural, try to use something less complex. Therausus.com. If you have to use an industry term or jargon, remember to explain it in your message.
Eg: “We operate in both the online and offline spaces, which allow us to run integrated campaigns for our clients utilising a broad spectrum of marketing channels. We cover print, radio, display, digital, search, social media, events and most other areas that you would require in your marketing.”
Who you do it for – who are your ideal clients?
Try to keep the problem you solve for your clients in mind. This will help you describe your target market in a way that will help them to identify that they need your organisation.
Eg: “Our clients most often include organisations that don’t have the internal marketing resources to manage their own marketing. We specialise in working with small and medium size organisations that are looking to grow and develop their brands but need the extra help to plan and maintain targeted and effective campaigns and projects.”
Why use us? – Your unique selling points
What makes you so special, hmmmm? Create credibility for yourself by using one or two facts or achievements that will differentiate your company – again, in this instance one or two really means only one or two.
Eg: “Our skills, experience and flexibility are what set us apart from other agencies. Because we work in both the online and offline spaces, we understand the value and requirement of both channels. Working with small businesses, we know the value of a marketing budget so we are as flexible as our clients need us to be. This means we can operate both on a per-project and retainer basis depending on what our clients need.”
The only P – this is the pain and the Panado
This is your hook, your scenario setting that will help your client relate to your organisation. Your company is the Panado to their pain.
Eg: “Unless you are a major brand with an endless marketing budget, marketing your business can seem impossible. The marketing arena can seem huge and since people are constantly bombarded with marketing all day every day it can be hard to know how to reach consumers. As a smaller organisation, getting yourself noticed actually takes an in-depth understanding of the marketing channels available, and also which of those channels will offer the best bang for your buck. But your business still has to run, so where do you find the time to become an expert?”
When you start this process, don’t worry about the number of words, whether you repeat yourself, grammar etc. Your goal is to get your main points and ideas down on paper. After this you can put them all together into a 100 to 200 word pitch – but aim for shorter if you can.
THEN EDIT RUTHLESSLY… Get a colleague and friends to edit ruthlessly, and you will ultimately end up with something that concisely and passionately says who you are and what you do.
After that, review it at least once a year. If your business is anything like mine what you set out to do is probably not what you ultimately find yourself doing – your elevator pitch needs to grow with your organisation.
Mike Southon, world-famous entrepreneur and author, says of an elevator pitch:
In sales, there is the concept of “golden nuggets”, where as many as 50 amazing features of your product are crammed into literature by your marketing team. The problem is that most customers have very short attention spans and can only remember three things about your product. As soon as you mention the fourth golden nugget, the first, and probably most important one, drops out of their memory.
By the time you get to nugget number 50, all the most compelling ones have long since gone, and the prospective customer has also lost the will to live.
Tips and tools
These are the articles and tools that I found most helpful when compiling my elevator pitch
- HBS Elevator Pitch Builder
- How to Write an Elevator Pitch
7 Steps for Writing a Powerful Elevator Pitch
By Alyssa Gregory, About.com
- 3 steps to a great elevator pitch
By Guy R. Powell
- A simple way to write an elevator pitch
by Steve Slaunwhite
- How to Write a Better Elevator Pitch
SALES SOURCE | Geoffrey James
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Her specialties include copywriting, web design and development, social media, community management, email marketing, and digital media.