How many times have you been at a networking event, party, bar or on a date and had someone new ask you what you do?
And when you respond, is it simple, easy to understand and intriguing? Do people ask follow up questions or is the response usually more along the lines of, ‘oh nice…’ followed by a subject change?
If you hate to admit it, but the latter is ringing some bells, you’re not alone.
When you’re close to your business and your role, it can be hard to figure out exactly how to answer ‘what do you do?’ in a way that is concise and interesting to the person asking.
Our minds are often clouded with details that seem relevant to us, but really don’t mean much to those outside of our business or industry.
Delivering a great elevator pitch can help you build your network, establish social connections and grow your business.
But first: What is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is a brief description of what you do that, in theory, you could explain to someone in an elevator – so, roughly 30 seconds.
By the end of this elevator ride, the person should have a clear understanding of what you do and how you can help them.
The ultimate goal of any elevator pitch is to earn yourself another meeting where you can go more in-depth.
To help you create a winning elevator pitch for your business, we’ve outlined the process in three steps.
This may seem like a strange way to start explaining what you do, but if there was no problem for you to solve – you wouldn’t have a job and your business wouldn’t exist.
There are several ways to address this problem and explain it to someone, but to truly understand what it is you’re solving, you need to think about your ideal client. In order to deliver value to someone, you need to understand who they are in a way that goes beyond basic demographics. We want to get into their lives and understand their emotions, external pressures and inherent woes. We want to connect with them.
This is where personas come in. Personas give you a clear idea of who you’re communicating with through ALL efforts. They should not be siloed and only used by the marketing and/or PR team. Everyone should be familiar with who the target audience is for your business. Even finance. Even admin. Why? Because as a business you need to be clear and consistent across all channels. At some point, everyone will make a decision or communicate in a way that will impact your customer and they need to know who that customer is.
Now, just because your persona is “Sally the Soccer Mom” who loves MAFS and reformer pilates (it’s me, I’m Sally), doesn’t mean that if someone doesn’t love those things they’re out. This is just to give you an idea so that everyone on the team can clearly visualise who it is that they’re trying to reach. There could be someone who actually prefers HIIT classes to pilates but their general lifestyle, values and problems (!) are the similar. As such, the way your brand is going to connect with them will be the same.
The way you’d communicate with someone like Sally is likely very different from the way you’d communicate with “Harry from HR” who literally doesn’t know what MAFS and reformer pilates are, but rather prefers fishing on the weekends and puzzles.
How does this relate to your business offering?
Because without having a clear idea of who it is you’re speaking/selling to, you’ll never be able to identify their problem and communicate it to them in a way that resonates. When we have a clear idea of who we’re communicating with and what their needs are – personal, professional, aspirational and emotional – it enables us to focus our efforts, communicate effectively and…you guessed it – build brand loyalty.
If you have no idea where to start building your personas and other key tools (e.g., customer journey maps), consider gathering the team for a Customer Experience (CX) workshop. Never heard of CX – we’ve outlined why you need it here.
How to address the problem:
Let’s say you work for a mobile dog grooming company. Here are some ways you might start your elevator pitch to address a common problem you’re customers face:
- “Dog grooming appointments can take a lot of time out of your day and the locations aren’t always convenient.”
- “Lots of dog grooming appointment times are really inconvenient for dog owners that work 9-5 jobs, especially if their home, groomer and office aren’t in the same area.”
- “Some dogs can’t really socialise and get anxious or aggressive in a busy dog grooming salon.”
Intrigued? Let’s move into the solution.
Now that you’ve captured your audience’s attention by addressing a problem they presumably can relate to, it’s time to save the day with your solution.
This part is pretty straightforward: What service or product do you offer that can solve that problem? Remember to keep it simple! For example, if you have some extremely technical software product, you don’t need to go into every detail about how it works – just say what it is (a software solution/product) and how it solves the problem you’ve addressed (e.g., saves time and money / streamline programs / provides robust data to inform strategy).
Don’t forget: Lay it out quickly and simply. Your elevator pitch goal is to get them to ask questions and set up another meeting! Then you can expand further. This approach is also beneficial as it allows the person or people you’re speaking with to lead the conversation. Rather than you droning on about details that may not be important to them, they are asking questions about things that interest them and giving you the opportunity to share what’s so great about your business in a way that’s more personalised.
How to address the solution:
Let’s revisit our mobile dog groomer for the sake of consistency. You’ll see the same problems (as above) in blue and the solution in green.
- “Dog grooming appointments can take a lot of time out of your day, and the locations aren’t always convenient. I offer a mobile dog grooming service that makes it super simple and easy for my clients – I usually park right in front of their homes!”
- “Lots of dog groomers’ appointment times are really inconvenient for dog owners that work 9-5 jobs, especially if their home, groomer and office aren’t in the same area. I offer a mobile dog grooming service with out of hours services and can visit my clients at their homes or dog-friendly offices.”
- “Some dogs can’t really socialise and get anxious or aggressive in a busy dog grooming salon. I offer a mobile dog grooming service with a fully equipped van, so it’s just me and the dog, which makes for a much calmer, safer environment.”
This last step is really painting the picture for your audience. How could their life improve if they used your service or business?
You have some flexibility with this as well, so do what feels right for you. Maybe test it out with some friends to get their reactions. It can be aspirational or more of an immediate benefit, specific or fairly broad. As long as it’s relatable and seems achievable based on your problem or solution, it can work.
This last part of your elevator pitch will tie closely back to the problem you laid out. Again, bring it back to the persona(s) you’ve built. This last sentence should tell them how they can win and it should ideally connect to their values and goals.
How to address the outcome:
Sticking to our mobile dog groomer example, you’ll now see this last part listed in orange.
- “Dog grooming appointments can take a lot of time out of your day, and the locations aren’t always convenient. I offer a mobile dog grooming service that makes it super simple and easy for my clients – I usually park right in front of their homes! That way, my clients spend about five minutes max dealing with grooming and can focus on other priorities like work, exercise, cooking – whatever they like. Plus, their dogs are safe and beautifully groomed, of course.”
- “Lots of dog groomers’ appointment times are really inconvenient for dog owners that work 9-5 jobs, especially if their home, groomer and office aren’t in the same area. I offer a mobile dog grooming service with out of hours services and can visit my clients at their homes or dog-friendly offices. This type of flexibility really helps out my clients because they don’t have to try to rush in on a lunch break or take time out of their day. Instead, they just pop outside with the pup and keep doing what they need to do, knowing their dog is in good hands just outside.”
- “Some dogs can’t really socialise and get anxious or aggressive in a busy dog grooming salon. I offer a mobile dog grooming service with a fully equipped van, so it’s just me and the dog, which makes for a much calmer, safer environment. This option really relieves the stress of the owners as well, so they can relax and carry on with their day knowing their pet is in good hands and being carefully groomed.”
While these examples are simple, they allude to the greater benefit and feeling that the customer will have when working with the mobile dog grooming service: Less stress, relaxation, comfort, security; saving time so they can focus on work and make more money – or spend time doing something they enjoy and getting emotional and/or physical benefits from that. These are all things that will improve their lives.
A few final tips for crafting your elevator pitch
We hope the three steps above have helped you simplify and build your elevator pitch. There are two last suggestions that can really help you drive it home.
- Stats: This is not critical, but if you have a good stat that ties directly into any part of your business and is easy to understand, throw it in. It could be used to emphasise how extreme a problem is, how amazing the outcome is or even to demonstrate your authority when outlining your solution.
- Practise: Just like you would (or should) with any other presentation or speech, practise your elevator pitch! Awkward as it may be, practising in front of the mirror can really help you hear how things sound and make tiny tweaks on your own. You want to commit your elevator pitch to memory through repetition, so it’ll just roll off your tongue when asked what you do. If you’ve got a few draft ideas, try it out with some friends or family (make sure they know about your personas!) to see what resonates the most.
Want to take it a step further to build the perfect elevator pitch?
Persuaders offer a half day workshop to take your team through the process to help you build a consistent and powerful elevator pitch.