The hardest assignments writers tackle are almost always the shortest. Brevity is not just the soul of wit – it’s essential to clear communication. Unfortunately, getting a point across concisely is not as easy as it looks.
I’m reminded of this when I see elevator pitches that are too long, too dense and too detailed to serve their purpose, which is to define who you are and what you do in one breath. That’s less than 10 seconds.
Sure, a pitch can be expanded for sales meetings or networking events. But succinctly describing your company and your mission has benefits far beyond the elevator. A good pitch becomes your calling card, driving SEO, establishing credibility and giving everyone from the CEO to the receptionist the answer to that all important question: “What do you do?”
So how do you fit everything that makes you great into one sentence?
Amazon isn’t just an online bookstore any more than Starbucks is just a coffee shop. To really define your business, you have to ask some hard questions. What is your purpose? Who do you serve? How would the industry be different if you didn’t exist? While your answers won’t fit into your pitch, they’ll give you a good idea of how to frame it.
Be about one thing
Competition is fierce. Consumers no longer have to decide if they want soda or coffee for their caffeine fix. Now they can choose among national brands, single source origin, iced, bottled, canned, fountain, sugar-free, low-fat, diet, fair trade and organic. Or maybe they want an energy drink instead. In an increasingly fragmented market, businesses must be able to tell a story that differentiates them from all potential competition. What is it that makes you different? What do your potential clients care about? That answer should be at the heart of your pitch.
Don’t get technical
Ideally, an elevator pitch is not a jargon-laden spiel you only rattle off across a conference table. It should be a sentence you’re as comfortable telling your neighbor or Twitter followers as you are a potential client or reporter. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for science, insider lingo or confusing abbreviations. Instead of describing how you solve existing problems, focus on the solution. Keep it high level.
Save the details
It’s easy to get hung up on specific facts that lend credibility. But if you only have a short amount of time to get your point across, it’s better to be “award winning” than to list every honor your business has received or to be “established” rather than “founded in 1963.” The specifics can come later. And omitting the details provides a natural follow up question that keeps the conversation rolling.
Crafting an elevator pitch isn’t about vanity. It’s about letting potential clients and interested parties know who you are, no matter how they came to find you. A fine-tuned pitch is a guarantee that you’ll always make a good first impression, opening doors and potentially growing business. That’s a lot to gain from one sentence, so it’s definitely worth the time and effort to get it right.
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