December 20, 2011

The Elevator Pitch: What do You do? Why Should I Care?

Most people have heard about the “elevator pitch”, which succinctly describes what your company does and the benefits it offers users. It’s a two or three-line statement that, in theory, compels people to ask for more information.
Now, you would think that creating an elevator pitch is a simple exercise but it is surprising how many companies have ones that are bad, inaccurate or confusing. The big problem is there’s so much information they want to include, they lose sight of the fact it is supposed to be short and sweet.
The other issue is the people creating an elevator pitch live and breathe their company and products every day. It gives them tremendous knowledge but little external perspective or context. As a result, elevator pitches often reflect what a company wants to tell people as opposed to what people want to hear. It’s a subtle but important difference that often gets dismissed.
So what are the keys to a successful elevator pitch?
It starts by being as simple and to-the-point as possible. We do/make “X” that helps customers do “Y”. It’s a sentence anyone can understand immediately. There’s no industry acronyms or lingo. Again, think simple because we live in a fast-moving world in which people don’t want to work to get what your company does.
Second, make it abundantly clear how your product meets the needs of users. How does it make their lives more convenient or productive? Does it save them time or make their lives easier? Again, think about what the target audience wants or needs; not what you want to tell them.
Third, you need to think about adding a little sales sizzle by showing how your product is different from the competition. It doesn’t have to be a multi-pronged, technical kind of thing but a sentence that spells out why your product stands out from the crowd. Again, it’s not about blowing your own horn but making it clear to users that you’re not just selling another widget but something that rivals don’t do or offer.
The truth is creating an effective elevator pitch takes time and effort. It is an iterative process that can evolve from your original idea. It should also involve external testing, including people who do not have any involvement with your company to generate honest and frank feedback.
The other reality about elevator pitch is they change over time as your company, the marketplace, economy and customers change. It means making sure your elevator pitch is tested or updated on a regular basis.
For companies that have great elevator pitch, life is so much easier because every employee is reading off the same page, which provides consistency across the board.
If you’re looking for help with elevator pitches, messaging and other digital marketing needs, my company, ME Consulting, offers these services to startups and entrepreneurs.

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