How you describe your business matters. To make the right introduction, you need an elevator pitch that effectively highlights your unique value proposition, why you are especially suited to deliver on that proposition, and most importantly, why other people should care.
What’s an elevator pitch? It’s how you can sell your business in the short amount of time it takes you to ride on an elevator with a potential client or partner. In other words, not very long.
But crafting such a message can be challenging. It’s difficult to boil down your life’s work into a 30 second pitch that perfectly encapsulates why you do what you do. Let’s take a closer look at the key elements of a good pitch, how to develop them, and ultimately deliver them to new business prospects and partners.
What Purpose Does an Elevator Pitch Serve?
First up, identify what your pitch will be used for. Are you attending networking events and need an icebreaker to start conversations? Are you fine tuning your introduction to new sales prospects? Are you launching a new product or service? Are you tired of family and friends asking what you do for a living? There are several reasons why you might need an elevator pitch. It’s important to know exactly what it will be used for so you can craft a message that answers specific questions these individuals will have.
What Does Your Business Do?
This one is tricky. On its face, describing what you do is fairly simple. But most people fail to get to the root of what actually matters when doing so. A list of your product’s features or the services you offer won’t mean much to most people.
What they really want to know, and what helps them decide if a relationship with your business is beneficial, is an understanding of the problems you solve. What pain points do you address for your customers? How do you make people’s lives better? As you write this part of your pitch, ask what one thing you most want the other person to remember about your business. That’s what the core of the pitch should be.
Here’s an example. First, a pitch that you might hear at a networking event:
“My company launches websites for other businesses.”
It’s succinct and specific, but it’s not particularly engaging. There’s no problem solved. No need met. And it’s unlikely anyone would deliver a line like that with much excitement.
A much better approach would be:
“My company designs and builds websites for businesses who service a sophisticated, often mobile audience. We help them generate more leads and increase engagement with their most important visitors.”
It describes both a problem and an outcome, and it’s much more exciting. Someone hearing this pitch, if they have the same problem, will imagine their own business benefiting from such a service.
What’s Your Unique Selling Proposition?
Even a well-crafted “what we do” statement isn’t always unique. This is where you highlight how you do what you do. What makes your products and services especially interesting when compared to those of the competition?
A unique selling proposition (USP) is the meat and potatoes of your company. You already know it; you just need to communicate it.
The website developer above might say: “We use a growth-driven design strategy that allows us to iterate on a website over time, testing new ideas and making changes that lead to greater performance. On average, our clients generate 15% more leads within 6 months than they did before we started working together.”
Throw It Back
Once you’ve introduced yourself, your company’s core offerings and the USP that sets your company apart, throw it back to the other person with a question.
Ask them a question that encourages engagement with your offering. For example, “How do you measure and improve your website’s performance?” This is a direct segue between your offering and the impact it could potentially have on the other person. This will shift them into considering the impact that your business can have on theirs.
A Good Elevator Pitch Evolves
Your pitch will change over time. As your company grows and adds new services and products, you develop greater expertise in key areas, or shift into certain verticals, you’ll adjust how you present yourself to prospects. At the same time, individual prospects may require a different pitch from one another. A mom and pop business with five employees and no website has very different concerns and needs than a $10MM company with an existing web presence.
Practice your pitch often and grow comfortable with it. The better you know the message you want to deliver to your prospects, the more effectively you’ll be able to deliver it in what can be stressful situations.