Getting Off the Elevator (Pitch)

I’ve been thinking a lot about the elevator pitch/speech lately. And I have two major issues with it.

  1. It’s a pitch. You’re selling.
  2. It’s too long.

I get the principle, but I’d like to challenge you to have a clear message that is 10 words or less – the totally distilled, core message of who you are and what value you offer.

The kind of statement you can make before the elevator door even closes.

Can you fill in this blank?  I/we want to be the go-to person/company for ________________. That’s one of the questions that gets you started toward the 10-word summary.

Why is this important?

  • YOU need to be totally clear on your core identity and message. In a way that could fit easily into one tweet.
  • You may not have 2-3 minutes to get to the point.
  • Not every situation is a sales situation. Can you explain what you do to a neighbor in 15 seconds?
  • Your message needs to be packaged so others can transmit it for you. I often (spontaneously) ask clients who know me to introduce me in a group setting, to see if I’ve enabled them to truly grasp my identity.

An elevator pitch is a mug of beer. A 10-word-or-less distilled summary is a fine single malt whiskey, served neat. 100 proof memorable goodness.

Here’s how Ravenswood Winery does it: No Wimpy Wines. Three words of branding perfection!

By all means, have an extended version of your message for when you know you’ll have some time. But, in my opinion, one of our biggest marketing challenges isn’t designing an elevator pitch – it’s gaining clarity first about our market purpose, direction, and message.

I’m regularly astounded at how rarely this is in place – distilled message clarity woven throughout the company and its marketing. And that is why I offer Clarity Therapy sessions for (mostly) small companies who want to program their marketing GPS for clear direction (brazen commercial for my consulting services – because I’m quite good at this!).

What are my summary statements? I have two, depending on if the need is for consulting, or for business referral connections:

– I help clients gain clarity in their direction and message (analogy: clarity therapist)

– I pro-actively make beneficial business referrals via my trust network (analogy: eHarmony)

And, yes, part of the Clarity Therapy outcome is finding that key business analogy that will help clients picture your service in their minds, so they can remember it and explain it to others. This (along with a compelling story and a differentiating offering) is a crucial element to an effective go-to-market message!

If you’re feeling like you need to stand out more clearly in a very noisy marketplace, contact me about a Clarity Therapy session. Don’t waste time and money being just another face in the marketplace.


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About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

6 Responses to Getting Off the Elevator (Pitch)

  1. How about, “My passion is in the details.” And from there I can talk about managing corporate and agency teams by understanding the challenges every member faces and working with them to achieve their goals, the goals of the business and goals of the clients.

    • Lucinda, it may be true of you as a characteristic, but it’s too broad as an identity/value statement. Doesn’t really tell me what you want to do, or what you do well that would make me want to hire you. Plus, it’s kind of a commodity statement, applied to commodity purposes (two hundred thousand other people could write this same paragraph about being detail-oriented and working with teams, goals, clients, etc.)

      You want your statement to give a snapshot of what you do and who you are, in a way that differentiates and intrigues.

      • hmmm…guess I need to rethink even more how I represent myself. And I thought I finally had it. I actually mean it when I say I love the details of running teams and projects.

  2. Lucinda – but, what does your future boss really want? How would he/she define a great hire/successful outcomes? How does he/she want to feel about projects under your care? Detail orientation may feed into it – but you have elevate your value at a higher level.

  3. Right on Steve. I’ve been throwing rocks at the old elevator for a while now in my own “spotlight pitch” training gigs. My formula is “give em a reason to trust you (tie into something they’ll recognize), plus a reason to remember you (DIFFER)” and do it all in the 1.8 seconds before you lose their attention.

    • Yep – same thing goes for billboards, exhibit booths, and slide presentations. I’m appalled at the way clear, compelling messages are replaced by a blizzard of bullet points that essentially say, “Me too!”

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