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Elevator Pitch Perfect - Advice & Worksheet

"An elevator pitch is arguably your most important marketing tool because it’s often the first thing that people learn about you," according to Entrepreneur magazine. An elevator pitch is what you say to someone when they ask you about your business and you only have a brief moment to communicate. I've created an Elevator Pitch Worksheet to help you write out your own pitch, and more details are below.

Entrepreneur magazine reminds us, "In most professional settings, people are much less interested in who you are than what you do and what you can do for them."

People have short attention spans, especially if they feel like they're being sold to.

For this reason I would suggest starting your elevator pitch by getting right to the point of what you do or what your company does. Immediately follow this up with a bragging point, or some tidbit of info that helps you establish the credibility of yourself or your organization. You might casually mention that you've been working professionally in your field for a certain impressive number of years, have helped a certain number of clients, won an award or recognition, or received some recent press or celebrity endorsement.

Throughout your elevator pitch the idea is to provide just enough detail to inform them in hopes they will be curious to learn more. It's a delicate balance of talking about your organization or yourself just long enough - you don't want to come across as sales-y and you don't want to hog the conversation.

People are more interested in what you do than learning your name.

For this reason, if it feels comfortable I would suggest that you not bother to tell them your name till later in the course of conversation. Start out with what you do and why they should care.

If the person you are speaking to is not in your same industry (or if you're not sure), avoid using jargon, or words that are specific to your job and industry. If they don't understand a term you use, they're probably not going to ask you to explain. Use common vocabulary whenever possible.

After you establish credibility with a bragging point, explain how what you offer is different than others who does the same thing that you do. For example:

  • Special ingredients or materials

  • A unique approach, process or fabrication method

  • Giving back to the environment, community, or local culture

  • Special training or experience you have that is rare

  • The mission or ethos behind why your organization was started

  • Something about current events at the moment that makes your offering an excellent solution for a common challenge

Why should they care what you have to say?

At this point I suggest asserting why this person might care about what you have to say. Inc. magazine reminds us,"An effective pitch always addresses the needs and concerns of the audience, answering the classic questions, "What does this mean to me?" and "How will this help me?" It can work to point out something unifying and over-arching - for example if you do auto repair you can point out that we all take our cars for granted until they start having issues. If you are a golf instructor, you could point out that some of the most important business meetings happen on a golf course, and mention how important it is to play with confidence.

If your business is more niche and they might not need your help, then encourage them to think of someone who could benefit from your specialty. For example if you are a private chef who specializes in Asian cuisine, you could ask them if they know anyone who loves sushi or the complex flavors of Cambodian food.

Close by inviting them to take action.

Finally, if you think the person you're speaking to might be a good fit for what your business offers, suggest next steps to continue the conversation:

  • Set a phone call

  • Meet for coffee

  • Invite them to tour your facilities

If you can provide them with some helpful information, a small free gift, or a simple gesture of help, this goes a long way to encourage them to stay in touch:

  • Coupon on your website

  • Upcoming sale at your store

  • Free resources in your newsletter

  • New customer discount

If they're not your target audience, see if you can give them a good reason to pass your information along to someone who might need your help:

  • Ask them to take your card in case they come across someone who needs what you do

  • Encourage them to take your card, just in case their situation changes and it turns out they might need your help in the future

  • Invite them to take your card and consider you a resource for any questions that might pop up on a topic that you're an expert in

  • Ask them if you could exchange cards so that you can refer someone to them if you come across someone who needs the kinds of things they offer

  • Offer a "refer a friend" discount

If you haven't been asked your name yet by them, exchange names before you part ways. If you have to read it off their card, that's fine. By this point they have some frame of reference for who you are and what you do. This context makes them more likely to remember your name when they hear it now as opposed to the start of the conversation.

Don't forget to be brief. "Great communicators, those who connect quickly and strongly with others all the time, know how to communicate the essence of their message--succinctly and in a memorable way--whether or not there's an elevator in sight," says Mark Wiskup, author of The It Factor: Be the One People Like, Listen to, and Remember.

More resources to help you craft and Elevator Pitch:


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