Elevator Pitch – Do You Really Need One?

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I think the name comes from the movie industry, but I’m not sure. It is said that you should be able to finish your pitch to someone before the elevator reaches its destination. It’s a good idea to have a pitch ready, because you never know who you’re going to meet and when it’s necessary for you to talk about your business.

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Often one of the most difficult tasks small business owners face is to explain what they do in an interesting way. I don’t mean to say “I am a veterinarian”, that is not hard to do, but for marketing it is not enough. It’s not a statement people will necessarily remember, or something that will make them ask questions.

When someone asks you “what do you do?”, do they really want to know your profession or are they trying to start a conversation with you? Many times it’s just an invitation to a conversation. When you are a business owner you need to take every opportunity to spread the word about your business to others. The best marketing is often word of mouth, but for that to work, you need to be interesting.

Many business owners we meet say that my business is not much to talk about, it’s not very interesting. I sell antique coins on Ebay, for example. Not everyone is interested in antique coins, but there must be some interesting facts about antique coins, and if not, there definitely are some interesting facts about Ebay.
There is a transaction happening on Ebay every four seconds, or something crazy like that. I don’t know how many people visit Ebay every day, but there is a bunch.

You want to focus on how your business is different from all the others in your field. What makes your Ebay store different than all the others?
Saying that I am an accountant, dentist, and carpenter or in real estate only tells half the story. What is it that makes your business different than your competitors? What’s the benefit for your customers? You need to find a way to make people interesting in hearing more about what you do. I know that many of us don’t think our business is that interesting to talk about with everyone. Not everyone has an interest in my type of business. But in most cases, you can find a way to make it interesting to everyone. Remember, we’re only doing an elevator pitch here not an hour long lecture.

The book “Duct Tape Marketing” talks about a core marketing message, not an elevator pitch. The book says that if you’re an invoicing service for small business owners, you could use something like: “I help small businesses getting paid faster”. ..and continue with a few more details about how you do it. The statement “I help small businesses get paid faster” will often be followed by a question. “How do you do that?” or “What do you mean?” When you get a question like that back, you know that you’re on to something.

The animal hospital might have a better wellness plan for pets, keeping them healthy and thereby reducing costs for pet owners – not to mention keeping the pets happy. The carpenter might specialize in a certain type of carpentry.

The first thing to do is really to think about what makes your business stand out in a crowd. In many cases, it’s not at all what you do it”s more related to how you do it, or why you do it. Maybe your customer service is what makes people return to you. You always take care of them and always over-deliver.
Maybe your product comes with a guarantee. Satisfaction or your money back!

Don’t think that you need a slogan, you don’t. You just need to express what’s unique about your business in a way that peaks interest and makes others ask questions. Find some interesting little facts, or something most people don’t know and mix that with the benefit of working with your company.

It’s not always that easy to come up with the perfect way to do this. The book “Duct Tape Marketing” suggests talking to existing clients, but if you’re just starting out, you might not have any yet. You might want to discuss it with people you work with, or friends and family. Brainstorm a little bit, and see what you can come up with. Remember, you’re not looking for a slogan, just for an interesting way to express your uniqueness.

Write your elevator pitch down on paper. Put it on a sticky note on your computer monitor. Rehearse it so it sounds natural. Live with it for a while, and make sure it fits.
You need to keep this marketing message in mind when you have a logo designed, business cards made or write copy for your website. All your marketing and promotional materials need to fall in line with your marketing message.

Don’t worry, if you don’t have the perfect elevator pitch, it will at least be a lot better than not having one at all. And the time you’ve spent on thinking about what makes your business stand out, will pay off in many ways. You now know how to focus on the benefits for your clients, not on what you do. Of course you need an elevator pitch or a marketing message.

So next time you walk into a party and someone asks you; what do you do? you’ll know exactly what to say and maybe that will start a natural flow of Word of Mouth marketing coming your way.

Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide

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