Ever wondered why you need an “elevator pitch”? In my recent blog, “Marketing via Networking,” I talked about the value of creating and building a network of business contacts to grow your business. Networking should be among the activities in your marketing plan, especially if you are a business owner or solo entrepreneur. By networking, you are getting yourself into the community. you are meeting and greeting directly with prospective customers or the people who may be able to refer you to customers, prospective partners, or professionals who can help you with your business. For example, business coaches, marketing consultants, graphic designers, printers, etc.
Why You Need an Elevator Pitch
When you go out to network, you want to have a prepared “elevator pitch” to respond to the question ”What do you do?” It is essentially a sales pitch, but it is called an elevator pitch because it should take no longer than a ride up an elevator to present it (within 60 seconds). This pitch needs to be succinct but also interesting, compelling and memorable. The trick is to hold the interest of the person you are talking to, which you would certainly fail to do if you embarked on a long-winded, disorganized monologue.
Your elevator pitch should be focused on the recipient — meaning you should have already asked them “What do YOU do?” and inquired about what they might be looking for or where they are seeking help. You should have a pitch prepared that can easily be tweaked on the fly, if necessary, to respond to what the recipient is telling you about their business and their needs. They will want to know “What’s in it for me?”
Convey More Than Just What You Do
In my article, “Figuring Out What’s in it For the Customer,” I talked about developing your core messages, which is what you should include in your elevator pitch. Your core messages should relate more than what you do — they should resonate with the recipients (your target audience) and capture their attention.
The core messages that become part of your elevator pitch should identify what makes you unique and what distinguishes you from every other company out there that does what you do or offers what you offer. You need to create a clear statement of value pertaining to your uniqueness and what you bring to the table: your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. Your USP statement should basically be your whole argument for what you offer and why customers need it now to solve a problem or address a situation they have. It should answer the following questions for the recipient:
- Why should I listen or pay attention to you?
- Why should I believe what you state?
- Why should I act on what you’re offering?
- Why should I act now?
Creating Your Unique Value Proposition
I do an exercise with all my new clients that involves brainstorming a list of their organization’s core values and then identifying which values would most resonate with each of the groups (or “publics”) that make up their target audience. I get them to come up with a dozen or more values, although having as many as two dozen values would not be unusual. “Values” are things such as integrity, superior service and high-quality products.
Once my clients have created their list of values, I ask them to determine every group they’re trying to reach with their message. Companies should identify and understand their entire target audience – everyone they want to communicate and do business with – as they seek to define “what’s in it for the customer” and develop a communications or marketing plan.
Conducting this exercise will help you discover your company’s Unique Value Proposition, or UVP, a set of statements that convey what your prospective customers and each of the other groups in your target audience get by doing business with your company. The UVP statements are what ultimately become what I call your company’s “core messages,” which should be woven into all external communications and marketing content – your website, sales materials, press releases, social media, etc.
Your Core Messages
When you create your core messages, you should create a one minute or 100-150 word version that can be used in various marketing materials and for communications purposes such as the elevator pitch. You may want different versions for the different groups in your target audience. As I said, it’s good to have a prepared elevator pitch but be able to make quick tweaks to it to respond to what you are hearing from the person you are conversing with. Remember: when you make your elevator pitch to someone, it may be about you but it’s really about them.