How Creating a Great Elevator Pitch Can Help Your Business
There you are, walking into another business networking event. It could be a local Chamber of Commerce event, a tradeshow, or any other of the hundreds of events that you attend each year to potentially create new connections that will help your business or organization grow. If you are like me, you have spent the last hour imagining all of the different ways you are going to answer the question, “So what do you do?”
This is where the idea of the “elevator pitch” comes into play. The concept of the elevator pitch has been so overused that it has lost a bit of its true meaning. An elevator pitch isn’t meant to be some mythical combination of just the right words that instantly captivates someone and has them begging to work with your brand. An elevator pitch is simply an organized, streamlined overview of your brand that gives someone an instant understanding of not just what you do, but also why you do it.
Now, if you do a bit of research on the subject you will find plenty of formulaic approaches to craft the perfect elevator pitch. While some structure is necessary to distill things down to their simplest form, there really isn’t any need to overcomplicate something that is ultimately supposed to be an engaging 30-second overview of your brand and why people should care about it.
Building the Perfect Pitch
Whether you have an idea of what your brand’s elevator pitch is already or you are starting from scratch, the process of building a great pitch can be a really good way to get clear on what your brand is really all about and put it into words. The key to putting together a really great elevator pitch is knowing your customers. Speaking from a place of how you serve your customer will always be more powerful than describing the products or services that you provide for them.
If you haven’t already defined your customer avatars, it is worth taking the time to do so. While the process of defining customer avatars is a little too involved to go through in this post, a simple description of this would be the creation of a narrative that captures the essence of a specific group of your ideal customers. It may be single men age 25-35 that enjoy fishing and Swedish hip hop. It may be female Japanese executives that own antique lowrider bicycles and love trail running. Whatever it is for your brand, capturing the essence of your ideal customer groups into a single persona allows you to define a message that is based on serving them specifically, which is the root of any great customer experience and the core of what you really do.
Once you understand your customer avatars, you can put together the foundation of your elevator pitch by filling in the following blanks:
“We (your brand) help ________ (you customer avatars) do __________ by ___________.”
Refining this simple statement of your customer journey will become the core of your pitch. Of course, you shouldn’t take this structure as the rule of law — this statement should be developed into a simple sentence or two that states who you are, who you serve and the way that you help them move from who they are to who they want to become.
The next natural progression of the perfect elevator pitch is to give a high-level description of how you help your customers attain this desired state. Notice that we say “description” and not “explanation.” You don’t want to get into the weeds about how your brand does what it does — you don’t have time for that. You want to simply elaborate on what your brand does for your customers. Instead of saying, “we offer 12 different types of pizza with several different sauce options,” you say, “we give people the ability to get exactly the kind of pizza they want.” The difference is subtle, but important, especially when you are talking about telecommunications equipment or commercial real estate services instead of pizza.
Now that you have created a sentence or two that captures the essence of your customer journey and the value you bring, the final part to add to a great elevator pitch to close it out and open the door for discussion is to mention the goals of your brand. Perhaps it’s about being the best company of your kind in the area or giving back to your community. Maybe you are out to change an industry or solve a major problem. Whatever it is, it is important that you add this “why” element to your elevator pitch to give the complete picture of your brand.
Working through this process should leave you with a 3-4 sentence elevator pitch that not only gives a clear picture of your brand but engages people and leaves them wanting to know more. The great thing about a pitch like this is that it is a conversation starter that gives the person you are telling it to the ability to explore whatever part of the pitch interests them, making it perfect for everyone from other businesses you may partner with to customers or even potential investors.
Perfecting the elevator pitch
Ok, ok… you may be reading this and thinking, “well yeah, that sounds easy to do…”
The process we went through does sound deceptively simple. It can be a real challenge to figure out any of the steps involved, or maybe even all of them. Here are a couple of tips to help you work through this process and crush any obstacles that may be slowing you down.
Jumping right into a pitch with the customer journey statement can be challenging. To add some context, you can begin the pitch with a great statistic or a relatable question. This can be a great way to put your customer journey statement into perspective. Putting a reason why what you do is important before telling them you do it can be a great way to put your brand value in perspective.
Add a customer story
A word of caution: this one can very easily turn an elevator pitch into an elevator lecture (you have been warned). Adding a great customer story to your pitch can really emphasize the value you bring and help you position the pitch and even add a bit of social proof. Just be sure to keep it high level and interesting or it can make the pitch long and too narrowly focused on one aspect of what you do.
The fastest way to ruin a great elevator pitch is to see it as a rigid script. In a lot of the scenarios where you will be using it, there will be an edge of pressure already — meeting a potential customer or vendor, networking with other business people and other slightly stressful situations. It can be hard enough to relax and feel comfortable in these circumstances without trying to remember a scripted elevator pitch. The best way to beat this is to practice, practice, practice your elevator pitch. Not only will this help it feel more natural, but it may also help in the actual development of the pitch. Another thing to keep in mind is that adding a bit of humor to the pitch itself can help with the pressure. Don’t get too carried away though — having a great line in your pitch may get some laughs but can also get in the way of truly being heard.
The Ultimate Elevator Pitch
If you commit to working through the process we have outlined you can create a strong, memorable elevator pitch that will communicate your brand value and have people wanting to know more. A great pitch can take time and a lot of thought to put together but can become an incredibly powerful tool for your brand. Like a lot of the important things in life, it may not be easy but it is definitely worth it.