The elevator pitch: That short description of your company that you deliver in the time it takes to ride an elevator a few floors, that thing that should be so simple and just so…
How many of us really feel like we do this well?
How many times have you delivered your quick pitch to an interested audience who instantly moved to action?
Be honest now….
Who Actually Needs an Elevator Pitch?
When you think of an elevator pitch you, probably think of:
- Networking events
- Speed-dating-style business events
- Funding pitches
Or other situations where you need to quickly tell a person what it is that you do.
A good elevator pitch can really be so much more than that.
It can be:
- Your social media bio info
- The footer of your emails that remind people what it is that you do and who you serve
- Content used throughout your website to explain what you do
- The first paragraph of a job description where you let someone know exactly what kind of company they’re applying to work for
So even if you’re not in a situation where you’re networking or meeting with people face-to-face for the first time, don’t think a good elevator pitch is something that just doesn’t apply to you.
Any of us who are responsible for growing a company are constantly in a position where we’re having to explain to people what exactly it is that we do.
But before you even think about writing an elevator pitch, you need to do one thing that will set you apart from the crowd, one thing that will make your elevator pitch shine.
That one thing?
Identify your target market — the audience that is going to hear this little speech of yours.
Define Your Audience and Get Specific — Uncomfortably Specific
Before you can start writing a good elevator pitch, you really need to think about who, exactly, your customers are.
Now I know this is a topic that’s a little played out. We’ve all heard over and over again that we need to define our target audience and make our target audience as specific as narrow as possible.
But it’s something that you hear over and over for a reason.
If you’re trying to craft a message that reaches everyone, if you think every business owner, or every parent, or every homeowner, or every human who exists is your customer, then you will have a very difficult time crafting a message that actually makes people want to take action.
Now I will be the first to admit that this is really difficult to do. You kind of feel like you’re taking a lot of potential dollars and just throwing them out the window by eliminating all but your very specific, niche audience.
This is a really difficult thing for me to do for my own business, but…
I also know that it’s a very important part of the process.
If you want to go through a full customer persona creation process we have some great resources for you, but right now I’ll take you through a simple exercise that helps you visualize some very specific people that can represent your ideal customer and your target audience.
Exercise Time — Identify Your Target Audience
You might want a pen and paper for this part (or at least a keyboard and a Google doc).
Think about two of your absolute favorite customers or clients. These are going to be people who you enjoy working with, but (and this is important) they’re also profitable clients, so you’re making money when you work with them.
They’re also clients that you feel like you provide abundant value to, clients that you can truly be yourself with, clients you can freely express your beliefs to (in relation to the work you do).
We’ll get more into that last part soon, but think about the people you share common goals with and that you can be transparent with.
Now, instead of thinking about the typical demographics most people associate with building a customer persona, what I want you to do is think about the type of problems you solve for these people.
Consider a few questions:
- Why did they come to you in the first place?
- What did they hire you for or purchase your product for?
- What are their goals (in relation to your product or service)?
- What are some of the things they struggled with (in relation to those goals)?
- How does your product or service help them overcome those struggles and reach those goals?
Look for some consistency in these answers. When you start to see a few problems that are consistent across your customer base, write those down.
If you’re finding it hard to narrow down and come up with one very specific problems (since you help your customers with a lot of different problems), then you need to take a step back and look at which of these problems you are the most qualified to solve.
Or, you might try to find a common ground between these problems and get a little bit less granular with your answer.
Now for the pitch.
Pitch a Problem You Can Help Solve
What is the biggest problem you help your customer solve through your products and services?
What internal problems do you help them solve?
For example, if you are a financial planner, you may sell securities, but that’s not the problem you solve…
The problem you solve is removing the fear and uncertainty your clients have about outliving their money.
Go beyond the “what” you provide and focus on that internal, emotional problem you help your customers solve.
I used the word help a lot in that last section for a reason.
You cannot be the hero of this pitch.
You must set yourself up as the guide, the helper, the one who will prop up your customer as the winner, the hero.
Don’t Be the Hero — Be the Helper
In StoryBrand, Miller emphasizes the importance of this distinction.
When you introduce yourself as the hero you put yourself in competition with the audience.
As humans, we all visualize ourselves as the hero of our personal narrative, and we are unwilling to relinquish that role to someone who claims to be the next best thing since sliced bread.
Think about every movie you’ve ever watched. The person who actually knows what the hell is going on is not the hero of the story. Instead, there are guides placed in the story to show the hero the path to winning.
Hell, sometimes they aren’t even people!
Take Beauty and the Beast. The Beast is guided by a clock, a candlestick, and a kettle.
Think he could have won Belle over on his own without their help?
Tell Them What You Believe
People want to be around those who believe what they believe.
Think back to why you started your business or chose your career path. What did you believe in? What were you so passionate about that you decided to wrap your life’s work around it?
Infuse this belief into your elevator pitch in a way that connects you with the audience you’re trying to reach.
Paint a Picture: The Path To Success
You talked about the problem you solve for your customers.
Now, let’s paint them a very clear picture of what success will look like after they’ve used your products and services.
Again, think about that emotional picture more so than the tangible thing you sell.
Don’t be afraid to show them what life might look like without your help and without them reaching that success.
If working with you is the path to great things, what is the consequence of NOT following your path?
Be sure that path includes a strong call to action detailing exactly how they can get on the path to awesome with you.
Boil It Down and Remove the Crap
Going through this exercise might just leave you with pages of narrative and ideas.
Remove anything that doesn’t help clearly tell the story of how you help your ideal customers reach their success.
Then, boil it down as much as possible…
Practice while you drive, in the shower, or even better, with another human.
Take out anything that just doesn’t feel like it helps tell your story and that feels even a tiny bit less than genuine.
Apply It to Everything You Say and Do
Use this statement as a lens for everything you do in your business.
If you want to do something (create a new product, add a service, take on a new client, try a new marketing approach, etc.) and can’t explain it using this framework (with the why you defined and the path to success you laid out), then it’s probably not a good fit for your business.
If you can apply the framework, then create the pitch, document it for your team, and incorporate it into your marketing and sales flow.
Our Final Elevator Pitch
“If confusion and fear are robbing you of your potential for greatness and success, leaving you feeling lost and a bit hopeless, then The Marketing Forge is your refuge, the place where you can get the expert information you need to clarify what you need to do and feel confident that you’re taking the exact steps you need to take to make your marketing successful.
“We’ve always had a soft spot for small businesses and startups, so we decided to share the exact strategies and methods we use in our marketing agency.
“We believe budget shouldn’t stand between you and your potential for greatness, so we created affordable tools that the average marketer and business owner can use, right now, to guide your marketing efforts (and feel confident you’re finally doing it the right way).
“Most people just need a plan and actionable steps to follow so they can go from frustrated and unsure to a confident and strategic marketing pro.”
That’s our elevator pitch — what’s yours? Tell us in the comments, and if you’re still struggling, check out our full Brand Development Template that walks you through a much more in-depth process of developing your elevator pitch, identifying the beliefs and values that drive your business, and creating a compelling brand voice.
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