I was at a business networking event this morning and was at the welcome desk helping folks get signed in, get a name tag, etc. A lady turned away from the table and was asked the perfect question–the question we were all there to answer: “Hi, Janice, what kind of work do you do?” The answer shocked me. Sadly, I was introduced to the worst elevator speech ever. She answered, “I am a business owner. We offer all kinds of goods and services.” That response drew a well-deserved bewildered look and another question (and chance to redeem herself), “what kinds of goods and services?” The response–“all kinds.”
The elevator speech–we all know about it. It is that 30 second introduction of yourself, your business, and why the person you are speaking with should do business with you and not your competitor. Yes, in 30 seconds. Because often that is all the time you have to make that first impression. That is quite a bit to pack into 30 seconds, but it can be done. More about that in a moment. Sadly, Janice was not done with her demonstration of ineptitude. I observed her talking about her business twice more in the next hour. The first time she introduced herself as “Janice, the owner of Matrix Plus, making quality affordable for you.” OK, I thought. What is it that you actually sell? Or is it a service you provide? The last time, she introduced herself to the entire room. Surely this is the opportunity for Janice to shine and tell us all about her business. Right? Well, you can judge for yourself. This is what Janice said to the room,
“Hi, I am Janet. I am the owner of Matrix Plus. We offer high end goods and high quality service at a price anyone can afford.” And satisfied, she sat down. Strike three, Janice! You are out. Out of my mind. Out of the running for me ever spend any money on your high end goods or high quality services. Why? Because I still don’t know what you actually do for a living!
Here is the remedy. Take a half hour to invest in creating a good elevator pitch. Author and entrepreneurship expert Chris O’Leary provides the prescription. He suggests that we keep out pitch:
- Concise. Keep the pitch short and clear, with as few words as possible.
- Clear. The pitch should be easily understood by a anyone you meet, rather than using acronyms and industry jargon.
- Compelling. What problem does your business solve, and what can you do for your target audience? In other words, what goods or services are you pitching?
- Credible. Spell out what makes you qualified to do what you do, or sets you apart from the competition. Using credibility-driven words like “certified” will help sell you.
- Conceptual. Keep your pitch broad; don’t go into too many details.
- Customized. Each target audience is different. The pitch should be tailored to the listeners.
- Consistent. No matter how many versions of your pitch you have, they should all convey the same basic message.
- Conversational. Start the conversation, and hook your target. Try to make it memorable but casual; don’t try to close a deal in the pitch.
Some source materials gathered from Katherine Arline, What Is an Elevator Pitch? Business News Daily, January 26, 2015.