Guest Contribution by: Erin Barber
You’ve been hustling to build up your business. You’ve crossed all your Ts and dotted all your Is when it comes to the operational and organizational components of your company, so you feel like you’re ready to go. Registration, killer product or service, motivated team members, required materials and tools, logo, website, business plan — check, check, and check.
Pitching is Preparation
Could you answer the following questions with ease?:
What’s your driving concept?
How are you different from other businesses operating in the same space?
Why are you passionate about this undertaking?
How would you and your brand be memorable to potential partners and clients?
And what is your goal in starting this company?
Not too long ago, I found myself stuck at this exact juncture. Operationally, I was raring to go, but I couldn’t succinctly communicate what I was doing and why. So when a potential collaborator asked curious and wide-eyed, “What’s your pitch?” I completely drew a blank. Though a storyteller by training, I was sweating, wracking my brain for the right words.
Why was it so effortless for me to write entertaining and engaging copy for other brands, but so challenging for me to do the same for myself and my organization? Sitting across the table from this formidable executive at a casual business lunch, I vowed I would never be caught in this deer-in-the-headlights situation again. And neither will you with these elevator pitch prompts, tricks and tips outlined below.
The Elevator Pitch
Gone are the days of the traditional 60-second all-about-me bio elevator pitch. Nowadays, you have about 20 seconds to peak a potential client’s intrigue and get them excited to learn more. For female founders in this age of innovation and artistry, it’s all about fostering conversation and nurturing interest in what we do and why.
Luckily, you have a few options for doing this:
- Hook, Line, and Sink ‘Em with a Question
Let’s face it. People love to talk about themselves, their problems, their wins, and their needs. Therefore, leading with a question makes the listener feel like they’re in the driver’s seat even though it’s your pitch. It’s a little psychological trick that leads the listener to automatically associate with you and your brand.For example, Steve Jobs famously propositioned John Sculley, who was with Pepsi at the time, by asking “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”I mean, truly, how could anyone say “no?”Go ahead and try to replicate this question-approach with your own elevator pitch.
If you’re a career coach, for example, you could ask “Are you the best you could be, or do you know, deep down, that you have more to give?”
Or maybe you’re selling a physical lifestyle product such as a reimagined yoga mat. You could inquire “Does your yoga mat provide you with grip enough to nail crow pose every time?”
Without much prompting, your listener will begin to run with this line of questioning and voilá. You’ll have their full attention to swoop in and position your service as the answer to their questions and needs.
- Punch a Problem in the Face
“You got 99 problems…I can solve at least one.”If Jay-Z were to rewrite his famous rap from an entrepreneurial perspective, it would probably go something like this. This is another great approach to elevator pitching in today’s business world. Remind the listener of a pain-point and then swoop in to ease that pain. For example, JustPark, a parking app, won Richard Branson’s Pitch to Rich contest in 2015. Here’s how: their pitch started by addressing an almost universal problem and they positioned their offering as the remedy. They said: “Let’s face it. Parking can be a real nightmare. It can be infuriating to find, extremely pricey, and by the time you find that spot you would have lost time, petrol, and caused a lot of unnecessary traffic and pollution. Well, there’s an answer, parkatmyhouse.com.”Now it’s your turn.
Say you run an online community that connects aspiring entrepreneurs with experienced mentors. Start with the problem: “The fact is, 65% of small businesses don’t last simply because their founders are inexperienced. But this percentage would shrink if we prioritized business mentorship. That’s where we come in.”
- Play at Their Heart Strings
In a perfect world, the simple arithmetic we learned in grade school would always hold up: 1+1=2. Business and investment decisions would always be made in a formulaic and rational way. However, in the world of entrepreneurship 1+1 can equal 2.5, 17 or 5,903. Regardless of whether we admit it or not, study after study shows that our decision making processes are more informed by our emotions than our logic. Lean into this when crafting your pitch. Throw your own enthusiasm and the enthusiasm of your customers into the mix where possible. One of Facebook’s pitch decks highlighted the following quote: “I have a new addiction. It is powerful. It is disturbing. It is thefacebook.com” —The Daily PennsylvanianYou think that one didn’t conjure up some provocative thoughts, emotions, and imagery? Think again. As a business owner and entrepreneur, use the powerful tool of human emotion to drive your listener to engage, convert, partner, or invest.
If you’re running an online learning platform you could tap into the all-too-human longing for inclusion: “You are not alone. In fact you are very much, well, together — with the 150,000 other users who are on a mission to learn, and learn fast, with our platform.”
Now Practice and Perfect Your Pitch
While you’ll find lots of online resources and marketing gurus who claim to have the golden ticket to your fool-proof elevator pitch, it is not a one-size-fits-all business tool. One version of your elevator pitch may appeal to a potential investor while another may appeal to clients. There’s really no way to know unless you put it to the test.
So get out there, practice, and perfect! Try your hand at all three methods and see which one(s) feel the most natural and appropriate for you and your target audience. Whichever one(s) you land on, you’ll never be caught unprepared to talk up the amazing business and brand you’ve worked so hard to build.
And for extra practice, go ahead and schedule a free consulting call with a member of the Calipso Communication team! We’ll give you expert advice to tweak, hone, and cultivate your pitch to help you reach the “I’ve got this” level of confidence.
Learn more about Erin Barber:
Hi, I’m Erin! Founder and Communication Consultant at Calipso Communication. As a marketing professional, I specialize in copywriting, content management and communication coaching for next-level brand engagement. My passion is helping female business leaders effectively communicate their brands and increase their online presence. Schedule a free consultation call with Erin and the team at Calipso Communication today: firstname.lastname@example.org.