A good elevator pitch will make you more effective
An elevator pitch is the brief summary or sales speech about yourself or your organization that you can say in about 30 seconds, which is about the time it takes to tell someone your story during a typical elevator ride. Elevator pitches are valuable to use in business and sales presentations, speeches and interviews. They are also effective for creating interest from someone important to you.
For many people, without even realizing it, a good elevator pitch is more important to their career than a business plan or document because it quickly summarizes the key points you want to make. In a sense, an elevator pitch is the equivalent of an executive summary in a document.
As time is so scarce for business professionals, being able to make a brief statement of your key points to others can make you a winner, especially if you meet them unexpectedly and can articulate your pitch.
Aim at about 60-100 words maximum. People generally talk at about 120 words per minute, and therefore the ideal elevator pitch will last up to a minute.
You can also use this technique in an email. Keep it to a maximum of about 100 words. Many people don’t get to the point quickly in an email so this will useful to practice. Also practice your media pitches in this way to score more successes.
Important to rehearse your elevator pitch
You need to rehearse your elevator pitch so it sounds natural. Try it on your dog or cat, and if they like it, try it on your partner. Listen to their feedback – at least your partner’s! That should help you to find apt words in concise form.
Elevator pitches are great for networking events. When you first speak to someone you can briefly summarize your key points smoothly and effectively to suit the occasion.
And the pitch works really in social media when you are introducing yourself. So many people waffle in social media. You can go straight to your key points.
Elevator pitch formula
Here are 5 steps for creating a great pitch:
1. Decide your goal
What do you want to achieve from your elevator pitch? Do you want to inform potential clients about the key points of your organization? Do you want to explain in an interesting way what you do for a living? Do you want to explain your company’s great new product? Although an elevator pitch is effectively a sales pitch, you need to make it sound natural in a conversation and adapt it to your listener.
2. Explain what you do
If you are talking about yourself, briefly describe what your organization does and your own role in context. Outline any problems you solve or personal achievements you have been pleased with, and the value you provide in your work. Decide what you want your listener to remember most about you.
A draft example from me:
“My whole career has been in business communication – in corporate, government and consulting management roles – because I agree with Sir Richard Branson that “Communication is the most important skill any leader can possess.” I have held positions in my national industry association and in teaching in university courses. In addition, I was recently CEO of a highly respected not-for-profit organization for 3 years, which actively communicated with the public. I really enjoy writing and so I run a popular website containing 300 of my articles. In addition, I write ebooks and a newsletter on communication for people around the world.”
3. State your USP
Include the unique attributes you offer by stating your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). This is the product or service you offer better than other firms. Decide what customers/clients value most about what your firm offers, and compare with the alternatives other firms can provide. Identify where you rank well and develop a concise statement as your USP.
Key features of a USP
For (target audience, customer, or other individual)
What (what they need or want)
You and your company/product/service provide (key benefit, compelling reason to believe/invest/buy)
- Assertive, but defensible: A specific position that forces you to make a case against competing products is more memorable than a generic position, like “we sell high-quality products.”
- Focused on what your customers value: “Unique” won’t count for much if it’s not something your target customers truly care about.
- More than a slogan: While a slogan is one way your USP can be communicated, it’s also something you can embody in other areas of your business, from your return policy to your supply chain. You should be able to talk the talk and walk the walk.
- Domino’s Pizza: “We GUARANTEE – Fresh, hot pizza, delivered in 30 minutes or less or it’s FREE!”
- FedEx: “Where it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight”
- Rolling Lakes Country Club: “A round of golf in four hours or less or your next green fee is on us.”
A tagline is NOT the same as a USP. Your tagline is usually too short to communicate your entire USP. However, a great tagline quickly summarizes the full USP. A USP can be a few words or it can be a full paragraph. Defining, and then summarizing what makes you different, unique, and desirable is more important than the word count.
Remember, a successful USP answers this question: why should a potential client or customer buy from you?
When answering this question, promise something special your competitors can’t deliver.
4. Bring it all together
When you have identified each section of your pitch, put it all together in one written statement. Review it again and again to cut out any words that are not absolutely necessary. Make each section smoothly flow to the next section
Rehearse your pitch aloud regularly so it sounds more natural with practice. Also, rehearse as though you are pitching to different listeners such as a potential client, someone you meet at a networking function, a business reporter, or someone from another department at work. Check your body language so you are presenting naturally.
General pitching formula
You can easily adapt this general formula for other situations:
Hi. I’m [your name]. I work in [your department] and I [insert a couple things you do that add value to the company].”
You might then follow this up with a recent accomplishment.
Hi. I’m [your name]. I manage marketing promotions for [department]. Recently, I began a new email marketing campaign that has increased the number of visitors by 30% and sales conversions by 25%.
If it is a sales situation you can give a call to action:
…This [product] could help you to achieve good results. Would you like me to call you to talk about it some further?
Sample email pitch to online consumer website
Subject: Possible interview on …
In the past six months, [name of organization] has helped our customers to [mention the product or service you want to push].
Customers say it is the best [product or service] they have ever used. Some customers get [these results] out of it.
I thought it might be of interest to you for a story as it fits in with the angles you have been covering this week.
Our CEO and a major customer are available for an interview.
I will call you tomorrow to check if you would like to follow this up.
If you want to call in the meantime, my number is …..
You could well find a couple of my recent articles useful as guides to developing productive relationships with people you have just met or that you want to improve your standing with them:
“Master small talk to make a big impression” and “Make a great first impression.”