First impressions really do matter. Think back to the last time you attended a networking mixer. Did you have a quick and smooth response to the question, “What do you do?” Or did you stutter and stumble over your words, finding it difficult to explain your business? If it was the latter, it’s time to define or refine your elevator pitch.
First, What Is an Elevator Pitch?
Consider it your verbal commercial; it’s how you explain what your business does and how it can benefit the person you’re talking to. Typically you can get it all out in 30 to 60 seconds. Any longer, and you will bore your audience.
What’s Wrong With Your Current Pitch
Think about the response you get with your current elevator pitch. Do people look confounded when you try to explain what your business does? Do they look around the room, bored and ready to escape? These are clues that can help you understand what needs to be fixed with your current spiel.
Your audience doesn’t care what you think is great about your company. They care about how it can help them. So if your current pitch is focused on the features of your business and not the benefits to your audience, you’re not succeeding in connecting with your audience the way you need to.
Perfecting Your Pitch
Now that you know what’s wrong with your old pitch, toss it aside and start brainstorming on your new one. Essentially, your elevator pitch should have these three components;
- The problem you solve for people
- How you solve it
- What makes you unique
Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be boring in addressing each point. Some of the most successful elevator pitches begin with a thought-provoking question, like:
Could you stand to make more money?
Tip: make the question an automatic yes to get your audience in a receptive frame of mind. Make it an obvious question to answer; who would answer no to the question above?
Next, look at where your audience is coming from. If you’re at a small business networking meeting, probably every small business owner is there to find potential customers. Knowing this, you can move on to that pain point:
I’m Melinda Emerson, the “SmallBizLady,” and I help small businesses like yours bring in more money.
Now you’ve really got their attention. You’ve latched on to a problem they have, and now you’ve told them you can fix it. Now they want to know how.
I do that by looking at what’s not working in your business, helping you fix it, and guiding you to find new customers.
Now, I could have said that I offer marketing consultation services, product development, and marketing analysis, but I didn’t want my audience’s eyes to glaze over. They want the big picture: I can help them make money. How I do it is a conversation we can have one-on-one if they’re interested.
If you’re speaking to a crowd, you can also tell people how to find you. Typically mentioning your website is sufficient.
Don’t be afraid to have several versions of your elevator speech, especially if you meet with different groups. Tailor it to fit your audience.
How to Find Out if It’s Working
The best way to measure the success of your elevator speech is to gauge reactions. If people are engaged when you speak, you’re doing a good job. If they come up afterward to ask questions, even better. You want your elevator speech to be a teaser that makes people want to exchange business cards and learn more about what you do.
Armed with your new elevator speech, you’ll be ready to knock ‘em dead at your next networking event!