Small Business Marketing
Write an Elevator Pitch
Written by Jay Shapiro for Gaebler Ventures
Can you pitch your business idea in the time it takes to take a short elevator ride?
The origins of the elevator pitch and its name come from would-be entrepreneurs going to Wall Street to try and raise finance for their companies or ideas.
They had already tried to get appointments and been turned down. So they would jump in the elevator with a prospective investor and have to make their idea sound good enough to be interesting before the prospective investor got out of the elevator at their floor.
In the real world there is less need for elevator pitch for its original use but there are many times when you need to be able to do that same interest capture in just a few seconds. Read the following two 'elevator pitches'. An elevator pitch is your short sharp description of what you/your company does.
- I'm a plumber
- I do plumbing, gas and oil fired central heating, I am not the cheapest but all my work is guaranteed, I carry professional insurance and if you have a problem I will be there.
- We sell medical supplies
- We provide medical supplies to hospitals, clinics and surgeries. We have extensive stocks held at several locations around the country so we can meet your turnaround times and get things to you more quickly in a crisis.
Which one would you rather hear? Whose business card would you keep? This is your bait, on it rests the success or failure of your business. Sound over dramatic?
It makes the difference between turning 1% of prospects into customers and turning 10% or more of prospects into long term repeat customers. Of course there is more to it than that but it sets the standard, starts to stamp your brand on what you do and gives you the best chance of having more customers and a more secure future.
When you are working on your elevator pitch always put yourself in the customer's shoes. Will they understand what you just said? Would the plain English society start picketing your place of work and throwing things at you?
Some years ago I was at a motoring exhibition and decide to sign up with the leading breakdown recovery company while I was there. So I spoke to the guy from the competition first and he spent a few minutes telling me about his company. Then I went to the leading company's guy and he spent a few minutes telling me about the competition as well, that isn't a typo, the leading company's guy said more about the main competitor than about his own product and company.
Having intended to join the leader I ended up joining the competitor as they had both talked about nothing else.
Moral of the story; use your precious time talking about your products, services and company, don't spend it all talking about your competitors, it may have the wrong effect.
You will need to be ready to answer the 'why are you better than them?' questions but keep those answers short and honest and steer the conversation back to you meeting your customers' needs.
Jay Shapiro is a freelance writer based in the UK. Jay has a particular interest in the emotive aspects of the entrepreneur's character. "Alongside the nuts and bolts of business, the character of the person is often the ingredient responsible for success."
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