An elevator pitch is an overview of your business. As the name implies, it represents the time it takes to complete your average elevator ride. If you find yourself in an elevator with a potential partner or investor, and you have thirty seconds to one minute, how are you going to pitch your business? A well-crafted elevator pitch can help you get funding. Still, it can also help you think about your business from a new point of view, and identify with your customers. If you’ve read our “Finding Your Why” article, you may have a little experience with this already. It is one of the simplest yet most effective marketing tools a small business owner can use.
Your elevator pitch is something you have prepared. It is practiced, refined, and strategic. When you meet an old friend, stranger, or potential client, you’ll be prepared to describe your company quickly. An elevator pitch provides your listener with a sense of what your small business is and the problems it is solving. It also helps you narrow down how you want your company to present itself.
How to Start Building Your Elevator Pitch
The first step to creating an elevator pitch is defining your goal. If you had 30 seconds with Bill Gates, what would you want him to know about your company, and what would you want him to be excited about? Keep in mind that you may want to tell Bill Gates something a little different than a business you want to partner with. Having a few different pitches at the ready will come in handy, depending on your goals.
Also, your elevator pitch should go beyond merely sharing what it is you do. Instead, the goal is to pique the interest of your listener to make them want to know more. You are selling your solution in a couple of sentences. So, rather than saying, “I’m a virtual assistant,” you might say, “I help small business owners get more done, in less time so that they can focus on strategy.” Any small business owners who heard that would likely want to know how they could earn more by doing less.
Finally, keep your pitch short and sweet by presenting a problem and offering a solution. The best elevator pitches have the listener thinking about the possibilities of your company before you even finish your pitch. If you can get the other person to start thinking of ideas for you, ideally some ideas that you already have implemented, you’ve already sold them.
Steps to Writing an Elevator Pitch
There are a few steps you can follow to start thinking about how you want to craft your elevator pitch. These steps are just a guideline, though -- make sure that your pitch is unique to the goals and brand of your small business.
- Who Are You? Write one sentence about yourself. For example, you might introduce yourself as a consultant to small business owners.
- What You Do or Offer? Using your product or service as a guide, write a sentence about what you do every day in your business. If your emphasis is on time-saving techniques, state briefly how your strategies work.
- What Problem Do You Solve? Identify the value you offer to your customers or clients. Avoid listing only your features, and instead, translate them into benefits for your listener.
- How Are You Different? Write about what sets you apart from every other business. Perhaps you’ve had relevant experiences and overcome them yourself, or your company has a unique strategy.
- Ask a Question. Elevator pitches are generally delivered in-person, such as an elevator or at a networking event, which means you want to be social and engage in a conversation. A great way to involve your listener is to ask a question that relates to them and your business.
- Give a Call to Action. To wrap up your pitch, give the lead something to do next in a call to action. Briefly let your audience know what they can do to follow up and hear more. Provide a means for further contact or to schedule a meeting.
What Makes an Elevator Pitch Great?
Using the tips below, you can craft an excellent elevator pitch and get your lead hooked.
First, know your audience. It’s helpful to learn about your listener and their pain points, so you can tailor your pitch to fit their needs. Like all other forms of sales, the more you can speak to your lead’s needs, the higher the chance you’ll entice them to want to learn more about your business.
Secondly, remember that less is more! There’s a natural tendency to want to say everything about your business. If you give too much information too quickly, you risk boring or annoying the individual. You also begin to limit the individual’s imagination on how you might be able to help them. Remember, if they are talking to you, they want solutions. Your job is not to convince them that there is a problem, but to convince them that your answer is the right one. Be quick and to the point, and hook your lead with information that will naturally make them ask about your business.
Third, compelling elevator pitches often lead with a hook. A hook is an intriguing statement that grabs a listener’s attention. Great hooks are often questions or memorable comments that make your listener want to know more about what you do.
And finally: Practice, practice, practice. Did you get that? I’ll repeat it. Practice! Don’t just write and read your elevator pitch, practicing speaking it out loud. Give it to the mailman, the grocery store clerk, and your roommate. It needs to sound natural when you say it. Otherwise, you’ll come off as an actor playing a role. When the opportunity comes, you want your pitch to flow like it’s a natural part of the conversation. If you can’t flow through the conversation, then rewrite and rework it until it starts to roll off your tongue.
A Great Example of an Elevator Pitch
This pitch for JustPark, a parking app that won the Pitch to Rich contest with Richard Branson, is an excellent example of an effective elevator pitch. It has all the elements of a well-crafted and memorable pitch that we’ve outlined above.
“Let’s face it. Parking can be a real nightmare. It can be infuriating to find, extremely pricey, and by the time you find that spot you would have lost time, petrol, and caused a lot of unnecessary traffic and pollution. Well, there’s an answer, parkatmyhouse.com. We are an awesome little company, backed by an awesome big company called BMW. Now, listen in: You can reserve parking in private property and save up to 70%. Need to park at a sports match or local station? Sorted. ... Just go to parkatmyhouse.com and simply type in where you want to park and what dates. It is that simple.”
This elevator pitch is excellent because they identify the problem without over-explaining It. If you have driven a car, you’ve probably had to deal with the frustration of finding parking. They don’t over-explain how it works, but identify just how simple the app is. They catch your attention, tell you what they do concisely, and then have a call to action to visit their website to learn more.
An elevator pitch is a quick and easy way to introduce your business to the people you meet. But instead of just telling those people what you do, you can use your pitch to create interest in your business, and turn a lead into a prospect.