Getting the Elevator Pitch Down (And Sales Up)
The elevator pitch is harder than it sounds. How do you sum up your entire business—including the passion, logistics, products, service and drive that make it all work—in just a minute or two? If you were to say it to a complete stranger in an elevator, you would need to deliver a message so powerful it moves that person to take action by the end of the line.
A spot-on elevator pitch is becoming even more important in the online era, when it can take the form of a tweet, a LinkedIn profile, a tagline, or an about page on a website. Across platforms, your brand message should be consistent and spark real interest.
Start by shaping an elevator pitch. Here, the process is just as valuable as the end product. Do it right, and you’ll learn a wealth of information about what your ideal customer really thinks, and how to connect with them in an authentic way that drives business forward.
Here’s how to pin down your perfect elevator pitch in five steps:
1. Get inside your customer’s head.
When helping companies shape their core message, many brand agencies offer up an ideal client persona. This is an individual with a name, a family, a job, a home and unique interests. They just happen to be entirely made up, only grounded in real life. It’s important to understand your customer on a wide range of levels, including how they think and what they actually do on a daily basis. Perhaps you start by researching U.S. census data to determine how many potential customers are out there, and where they live. Knowing the on-the-ground facts is vital, but to do this step right, you need more than statistics, charts and numbers. You need to make it personal, and get inside your customer’s head. Interview or do a day-in-the-life observation of a potential customer in your target market. Try to understand their core motivations, their pain, fears, and beliefs. You’ll be surprised how much insight you gain on the marketplace and your industry.
2. What’s the issue?
So what are your customer pain points? What problem does your product or service solve? Sometimes, it helps to exaggerate this step like the beginning of a bad infomercial. Picture a person pulling their hair out because they can’t open a jar and going to Lucille Ball lengths to get the job done. How do your potential customers feel now, before your product steps in to save the day? What goes through their mind when deciding how to navigate that particular situation? What do they really want at that moment? By answering these questions, you’ll be able to step in with the right message at the right time.
3. Tell your story.
Think of the story of your business in terms of a beginning, middle and end. People like a good story, especially a story that builds up to something interesting—a turning point moment with a powerful message. This doesn’t have to take an age to tell either. Once you define your business’s story, you can figure out a way to string the first three steps together in a quick way that will really impact the person you’re trying to reach. For example, when talking to a bookkeeper about online time tracking software, you could say, “The original idea for our company actually came from a bookkeeper. She was frustrated with the late, error-filled, handwritten timesheets that took hours to enter in to Excel spreadsheets, making payroll a nightmare. So we worked with a software developer to design a custom solution that would work anywhere, in real-time. Now we’re the number one rated app for Intuit and QuickBooks. Still a total hit with bookkeepers worldwide.”
4. Define your take-away.
When it’s all said and done, did anything come out of the exchange? It’s up to you to decide what you want your call to action to be, and how to work it in. Be realistic. Handing off a business card might not make the magic happen, but getting the person’s name and following up with an email will give you a much better shot. Or think about messaging them on social media with a quick link and thank you. The key is to first spark interest, then back that up with a way to take action that makes sense in the context of that person’s overall life.
5. Use your echo chamber.
An echo chamber is your audience, tribe, or customer base. It’s important to test out your message in an echo chamber, because that’s the only way to know if it works. Saying your message out loud to key people you want to reach will help you trim the fat, and get rid of marketing jargon that doesn’t really connect. Ask your test subjects what resonated with them, and what they didn’t really understand. This is an ongoing process, because every person is different, and the marketplace is always changing. However, by focusing on delivering a consistent, engaging message to your echo chamber, you’ll make your voice heard over the long run — loud and clear.
The elevator pitch is an important exercise to put time and effort into. It helps define a brand that lasts, and win future business. Say it straight and say it great. Then see your profits rise up.
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