Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How Many Other People Can Recite Your Elevator Pitch?

I used to own a sign and banner shop in Marina del Rey, California. It is the first business I started as an entrepreneur. I set up shop in the same geographic area as the hospitals where I had worked. Since Community Relations reported to me at the hospitals, I had been active in the Chambers of Commerce and a lot of other local groups.

My #1 form of marketing was networking. Besides the Chambers (I think I joined five), the police auxiliary board, morning breakfast meetings such as LeTip, and the American Cancer Society, I also targeted women’s business groups.

My “elevator pitch” was “A business with no sign is a sign of no business.” Catchy, memorable and a good call to action. (See Rhonda Abrams story about Signs, the tried and true in marketing business).

In fact, when I would stand up to introduce myself, after just a couple of weeks, those present would say my tag line for me. My phone number was the same forwards and backwards and something I made note of when I said it, so that made everyone remember my specific phone number as well.

I had equal success with clients. When Broadway Gymnastic School reinvigorated their branding, we added the tag line “Helping Children Grow Since 1979”. This says that they do more than gymnastics,--they care about children overall, and are not a new start-up gym but a long time community member. They were able to use this phrase effectively--and immediately--when their gym burned down and the media and concerned community members and parents were at their doorstep.

After attending one of my communication seminars, Gone Rural from Swaziland, Africa, added a tag line : Gone Rural designs and produces uniquely beautiful home accessories handmade by 700 rural Swazi women. The only part of the story that tag line doesn’t tell is that Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world—and many of those women are raising their grandchildren.

As Runa Magnusdottir and I teach in our BRANDit workshop (, whether you are trying to raise capital, promote your company, or promote yourself, it‘s essential to have an elevator pitch. You have less than a minute to explain yourself, your business, your goals, and your passions. Your audience knows none of these. Are you prepared? Can you present your vision smoothly, enticing them to want to know more?

1. WHO

DESCRIBE WHO YOU ARE: Keep it short.
HINT: What would you most want the listener to remember about you?


DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO: Here is where you state your value phrased as key results or impact. To organize your thoughts, it may help to think of this as your tag line.
HINT: this should allow the listener to understand how you or your company would add value.

3. WHY

DESCRIBE WHY YOU ARE UNIQUE: Now it‘s time to show the unique benefits that you and/or your company bring to business.
HINT: Show what you do that is different or better than others.


DESCRIBE YOUR GOAL: Describe your immediate goals or intentions. Look at your markers from Your BRAND Your Passion worksheets. Include a time frame.
HINT: This is the final step and it should be readily apparent to the listener what you are asking of him / her.


These guidelines help you communicate your main message quickly, clearly, and distinctly to someone who doesn‘t even know you. A good pitch takes planning and practice to deliver quickly and to make it memorable.