As a small business don’t slip into the trap of thinking you don’t need an elevator pitch. Everyone in business needs an elevator pitch – that pithy summary of what you do, what benefit it brings to your customers and how you’re different, write Anthony Caruana and Kathryn Van Kuyk, co-CEO’s Media-Wize
It’s more competitive than ever to win customers and stand out, so being able to explain the value you provide and your point of difference quickly is essential. In fact, you need multiple messaging arrows that you can shoot at different targets.
Why you need multiple messages
That’s the thing about great messaging; it’s tailored for each specific audience. I could tell you a story about someone who wanders past a vacant house, steals food and squats for a while before being caught. Or I can tell you a fairy tale about Goldilocks and how she tried different beds and food in a stranger’s home. To the police, the first is a crime story. For kids, it’s a cute fairytale. The facts are the same, but the storytelling is very different.
Every small business fighting to compete and grow, win more customers, stand out on social media, convince journalists to write about them and to attract talent, partners and suppliers, needs an elevator pitch that they can adapt to different situations.
The elevator pitch you use for prospective partners, suppliers, investors and staff should be different from the one presented to customers and again you’ll need a different version if approaching the media. There is also merit in having another version to use in social situations and when networking, if people ask what your business does.
What’s in an elevator pitch?
The common pitfall is thinking an elevator pitch must be a summary of everything you do, with lots of technical details. It doesn’t. Aim for 30 seconds to a minute, just enough to entice the listener to want to know more and ask a question. It needs to be succinct, easy to understand and engaging. It is most powerful if you lead with passion and explain why you do what you do, rather than just how you do it.
Elevator pitches should be easy to understand, jargon-free and highly accessible – think of the movie Philadelphia and tell me like I’m a three-year-old.
For example, a boutique retail store that sells locally sourced ethical goods, might have one that says: “We help local artists and ethical suppliers reach customers with unique handmade gifts and products to cherish.”
That message is simple, gets the idea across and opens the door for someone to ask how that’s done, why it needs to be done and for examples of what they sell.
But, if they’re talking to potential new suppliers, then their elevator pitch might be more like:
“Our store(s) promote local artisan goods and we only sell ethically sourced, environmentally conscious products. We want to make it easier for consumers to find items they can cherish while supporting the local community and being better for the planet.”
Again, the point isn’t to bombard the listener with technical detail. But it tells the potential supplier that you are a viable distributor and recognise the uniqueness of their goods. It also enables them to align with a store that isn’t also selling mass-produced brands that can be bought anywhere.
First you need a great idea, then you need to create a desirable product or service and then you need to hone your messaging so that you can convey what you do and its value to different audiences.
Writing and practicing different elevator pitches for different audiences allows you to target what you say so you can get maximum value from limited opportunities.
Elevator pitches are like clothes – you need one for every occasion. And remember you might only get 30 seconds, so be ready to make the first impression count.
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