What is an elevator pitch?
Opportunity often starts with a first impression, so it’s important to make it a good one. In most encounters, you only have 30 seconds to show, a few minutes to impress, and a day to respond. My advice for everyone, no matter what business you’re in or what role you play in it, is to prepare an impressive elevator pitch and be ready to deliver.
An elevator pitch is the most minimalist interpretation of the products or services that a company or individual offers. The term “elevator pitch” comes from the reality that you may only have as much time as an elevator ride to the next floor to introduce yourself and your ideas and to make an impact on investors or prospects. The elevator pitch is the heart of all of your messaging and conversations about your brand.
Why is an elevator pitch important?
We must understand that we are always selling. All of us, all the time. When you meet someone new. When you propose an idea. When you share your thoughts or give advice. Even when you’re asking something of others. Whether you know it or not, whether you want to or not, you are selling. And the person on the other side of that interaction is either buying in or checking out.
When you go for a new job or set your sights on a promotion, you are selling intellect, labor, and your personal brand. When you’re flirting with someone, you are selling what you can offer him/her. When you go for a business proposal, you are selling your services and what makes your brand stand out.
An elevator pitch is important because it communicates the most important aspects of your business and services within a very short window of time.
How do you write an elevator pitch?
First, you have to decide what exactly you want to communicate about yourself or your business. For a simple start, answer the following questions:
- Who is your target market?
- What problem do they face?
- What is your product, solution or service?
- How do your products, solutions and services help?
- How do your target customers measure success?
From here, we have simplified the “elevator pitch” to a formula almost anyone can use:
“You know how (insert audience) deal with (insert problem)? I (insert solution). This helps to (insert benefit) so they can (insert goal)”
For example, this is one way to simplify an effective elevator pitch for an ecommerce technology expert. This pitch is interesting because it streamlines and answers the question “What do I do?” while providing critical context on “How I can help?”
“You know how ecommerce companies have a lot of trouble getting all their web, marketing and back-office technologies working together? For almost 25 years I’ve helped merchants integrate their ecommerce storefronts, technology stack, and marketing platforms. This helps to improve their customer experience and prepare their operations to scale in the omnichannel age.”
How do you use an elevator pitch for marketing?
One of the best things about perfecting your pitch is that it’s time very well spent. Your elevator pitch can be infused through all aspects of your brand identity, marketing campaigns, sales messages, and more. Use it to touch up that dusty old Mission Statement you haven’t revised in years. Let it guide your audience targeting and teach you about your customer’s journey.
You can share your elevator pitch internally to help your employees understand the bigger picture of what you do and how you help your customers. Challenge them to write their own elevator pitches describing their role internally and to people outside the company.
Look very closely at those three variables in our Elevator Pitch Formula above. Problems, Solutions, and Benefits. Examine them from all angles. Dig deep. Use these to construct your content pillars for marketing and SEO. These are the kinds of stories you need to tell your prospects as they continue learning about you.
Think about your buyer personas (or marketing avatars or customer archetypes or whatever you might call them). How can you tailor your elevator pitch to each audience and their unique problems, solutions, and benefits?
Keep your elevator pitch in mind as you write your boilerplates and social bios, create posts and blogs and emails, and as you build your web and ecommerce solutions. Even fine details like product descriptions can benefit greatly from a little elevator pitch treatment. See if you can spot the formula in this product description:
“Don’t go to bed cold! Cozy up under our limited edition Slinky Minky leopard print throw blanket. This luxuriously plush 30″x60″ throw keeps heat in but lets air out so you stay snuggly warm and dry all night long.”
Perfect your pitch!
Despite its short length, an effective pitch requires hours to write, refine, and practice in front of the mirror. The more practice you put into it, the more confident you’ll be, and confidence is key to gaining the trust of future investors, prospects, or employers.
And remember — elevator pitches are important, but you should always be prepared to go deeper into detail if the opportunity arises.