January 8, 2015

The importance of an elevator pitch

An elevator pitch can be a powerful selling tool you can use in any situation. We ask an expert about the importance of having a great elevator pitch and share their tips for crafting a concise and compelling overview of your business.

The next person who asks you or your staff, “What do you do?” could be a potential customer or someone who can help take your business to the next level. Your reply could have a big impact on your future. So what will you say?

If you have a good elevator pitch up your sleeve, you’ll always know the right thing to say, says Tom Brigstocke, Managing Director of Principals, a brand strategy, identity and language agency.

Like the name suggests, an elevator pitch shouldn’t take longer to deliver than an average ride in a lift – no more than a minute or so. Yet it can be a very powerful selling tool you can use in any situation, from a meeting or networking event to a barbecue.

Short and sweet

“An elevator pitch should provide a concise and compelling overview of your business,” says Brigstocke. “Yes, you need to say what your business does, but you should also be providing an insight into its vision, purpose and personality.”

The best elevator pitch is an expression of your brand strategy, so most of the hard work will go into the thinking behind the pitch rather than the pitch itself. And this process should ideally involve a broad spectrum across the organisation.

Internal branding can help bring the brand to life for employees, inspiring them to engage with customers, suppliers and even their friends in a much more positive way. “Because it’s short and concise, an elevator pitch can also help them to remember all that they need to know about the brand and to express it in a convincing way,” says Brigstocke.

Crafting the pitch

Once the brand strategy is in place, writing the elevator pitch should be relatively straightforward. “Your aim is to summarise what the organisation is about in a way that engages the person you’re talking to and makes them want to develop a relationship,” says Brigstocke. “It should feel like a conversation, not a sales pitch, so the language should be simple and direct with no corporate jargon or industry lingo – and there’s no point in trying to cram in too much information. That does take some crafting and polishing so I’d recommend briefing a good wordsmith rather than trying to write it yourself or, even worse, write it by committee.”

It’s also important to keep your pitch up to date. “It must reflect the brand strategy so it needs to be reviewed regularly,” says Brigstocke. “A new dynamic in the market, a change in direction for the organisation, a merger or acquisition – these kinds of things all have the potential to trigger a modification to the brand strategy, so the elevator pitch will also need to change. It should also sound fresh and relevant, so be sure to incorporate developments or ideas. And don’t feel you have to repeat it word for word. As long as you understand the thinking behind it you can tailor it to different situations.”

Four key qualities of a great elevator pitch:

  1. Short and engaging: even 60 seconds is long enough to tell a story.
  2. Conversational: it’s not a sales pitch.
  3. Simple and direct: avoid using complicated language.
  4. Fresh and relevant: it’s not something you’ve been repeating for years.

This article was first published in Business View magazine (Summer 2014). For more articles and interactivity, download the iPad edition of Business View for free via our app, NAB Think.

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