A strong elevator pitch is (or should be) a key part of your company’s marketing strategy. Can you describe what your business is and how it solves problems in 30-40 seconds? If not, you’re missing out on a great opportunity to build new connections and boost awareness of your brand.
When does an elevator speech come in handy? Opportunities can appear in a wide range of settings. But where you’ll use it most often is at events that revolve around in-person networking – especially at trade shows, industry seminars, business conferences, and so on. You can also use it to great advantage during more informal business gatherings, when you’re meeting people for the first time who are naturally curious about you and your company.
Just remember, an elevator pitch isn’t a hard sell. When communicating with strangers or prospective customers, Inc. notes, “If you’ve only just met them, the best you can ask for is a sympathetic hearing, not a commitment.”
What’s the ideal way to put together your elevator speech?
- Put words to paper (or on a screen).Get all of your thoughts down for the all-important first draft, knowing beforehand that you’ll be cutting much of it as you move forward. Remember, you have 30-40 seconds at most to make the best case for your business.
- Describe the problem your target audience faces. Then talk about how your products or services not only address that problem, but offer a working, cost-effective solution.
- Emphasize the “differentiation factor. Say something about what makes your business different from the competition. Focus on your value proposition and the ways in which your company offers the best options for customers.
- Anticipate likely questions. A good pitch will generate one or more questions from interested listeners. You probably know from past experience what those questions are likely to concern. Be prepared with quick responses that will satisfy people’s initial curiosity.
Also–and perhaps most importantly–keep your wording simple. In the majority of circumstances, those who are willing to hear out your elevator speech have little or no idea about your industry in general. Using jargon specific to your business, or acronyms that only insiders would know, is virtually guaranteed to make their attention fade. Any technical or obscure words or phrases should be cut after your initial draft.
Put together versions of your pitch in differing lengths. Having more than one pitch in your marketing arsenal, Forbes notes, “can ensure you are always successful in getting your message across, without any embarrassing silences, or mumbling to race the words off your tongue.”
Practice, practice, practice!
What they say about how to get to Carnegie Hall applies equally to your elevator speech. If you want to describe your business in the best possible light in 30-40 seconds, it must come across in an enthusiastic and apparently spontaneous manner. (Of course, it’s anything but spontaneous!) To achieve this goal, it’s necessary to practice a lot.
Start by giving your pitch in front of the mirror. Listen to how well you deliver, or if you stumble over certain spots. Keep your delivery conversational, not rushed. Add some inflection in your voice, so as to communicate excitement about your business. Keep practicing until you have the pitch honed down to an appropriate length.
Then “practice your pitch in front of your friends and ask their opinion.” Encourage friends and colleagues to be honest in their critique, pointing out what worked in your delivery and where it fell short. Use this feedback to go back and refine a bit more.
After that, it’s time to try out your mini-speech on people who have no knowledge of your business and its goods or services. Pay close attention to their facial expressions and body language–any nonverbal cues that alert you to what commands the most attention on their part, and what causes their eyes to glaze over. This can help immeasurably in your final efforts to refine the pitch.
This may seem like a time-consuming task, of which you already have plenty. But you’ll be very glad you took the time to get your elevator speech right, the next time you find yourself in an impromptu conversation with a prospective client or a key decision-maker. Your ability to wow them with a quick, to-the-point description of the value your business provides could pave the way to the next big sale.