17 Jan 2013
By Tannette Johnson-Elie
You’ve got a minute or less in which to talk about yourself and your job to a stranger. It could be a potential investor, buyer or client. Can you present your ideas on the spot and in a way that entices that person to want to continue the dialogue?
Even the most seasoned businesspeople have trouble delivering a distinct message under such pressure. It’s the proverbial elevator pitch – a brief, compelling statement about what your company makes or does that even your mother would understand by the time the elevator ride is over.
Whether you’re trying to raise capital, market your business or promote yourself, you need a good elevator pitch that conveys your message quickly and clearly to a potential client or investor.
In today’s fiercely competitive and fast-paced society where people now communicate in 140 characters and your words can give you a competitive edge, an elevator pitch is more important than ever, says Beth Goldstein, CEO of Boston-based Marketing Edge Consulting Group & Author of “Lucky By Design,” which aims to help entrepreneurs develop business growth strategies and plans.
“We live in a more fast-paced environment. Because of that, it’s even more essential that we get our message out quickly and succinctly,” said Goldstein. “Think about what it is that makes you unique. What makes your business compelling to the other person? You want to engage them in a conversation as if you’re on the proverbial elevator.”
Goldstein would know as she uses several different elevator pitches for different types of business relationships.
“I do a lot of market research. What my clients want is for me to help them increase revenue and profits and customer loyalty,’ she said. “If I were to tell them how I did all my market research, they wouldn’t care, but if I said to them, ‘I can help you increase your profits, your revenue and improve customer loyalty,’ they will want to continue the conversation.”
Learning to pitch yourself and your business in a way that excites others is one of the most fundamental skills for small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to accelerate growth. Crafting a killer elevator pitch takes planning and effort to deliver it succinctly and clearly to stakeholders.
So what are the elements of a good elevator pitch? Goldstein shared the following tips:
Anticipate your audience’s needs and expectations and tailor your pitch accordingly.
“Make sure your pitch is targeted and you have an understanding of what a particular person is looking for,” Goldstein said.
Don’t sell yourself. Instead, explain the benefits that you can deliver to the person you’re talking with.
“You’re not trying to sell the other person,” Goldstein said. “You always want to talk benefits. What’s in it for the other guy?”
Avoid giving too much information. Remember the proverbial elevator. While you might be attending a business association meeting or other networking event, you still want to get your message across as quickly as possible. Think in terms of what you most want the listener to know about you and your business.
“Don’t tell them your life story. This is one I’ve seen the most. People just want to tell everything and that person’s running out of the elevator,” Goldstein said.
Know yourself and what you do well. I personally have been caught off guard a few times when asked to talk about what I do and what makes me unique. Whenever I tried to wing it, I found myself stumbling over my words. By taking the time to understand myself, my goals and my passions, I find that I am able to deliver my pitch much more smoothly.
This illustrates the importance of Goldstein’s last point: Practice, practice, practice.
“[An elevator pitch] is much harder than it sounds,” she said. “It’s something you want to think about before you encounter that person with whom you really want to develop a business relationship.”