Thursday, September 11, 2008

Do You Have An Effective "Elevator Pitch"?

An "elevator pitch" is a statement people make about their business or business concept while in an elevator faced with a potential investor. It can, and often does, also mean the pitch one can give to potential (and current) clients and customers, or even to a member of the media.

Elevator Pitch Outline:
1. What is your product or service?
2. How is it better than other, similar services? (competitive advantage)
3. How can you deliver that product or service effectively, and/or cheaply?
4. How can the customer/client find and purchase those services?

Elements of the Elevator Pitch:
1. Be Brief - you’ve got 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
2. Keep it simple - a grandmother and her grandchildren must both understand it. Kill the jargon.
3. Remember to answer this question: "What’s in it for me?" - What will YOUR service or product do for the person you’re pitching it to?
4. Be sure you’re talking to the right person - Can they really use the product or service you’re selling?
5. Be memorable - Include a positive phrase or image they won’t forget.
6. Tell them where to go - To get your product or service, that is. Have a card ready to hand them with your phone number, email address and Website URL on it.

Crafting Tips:
1. Write down your pitch
2. Read it aloud - does it make sense?
3. Edit out extra words, things that don’t fit the elements, above.
4. Time it. Is it 30 seconds long, or at least under 2 minutes?
5. Run it by colleagues, friends… and business network associates!other tips:
1. Speak deliberately, calmly and clearly.
2. Get their business card - and of course, give them yours.
3. Follow up within three days

Below is a blog posting by Timothy Ferris (author of the Four Hour Workweek) on his site for May 3, 2008:

Prepping for Warren Buffett: The Art of the Elevator Pitch

So what do you say to the world’s richest man if you, by some miracle, end up standing at the urinal next to him? You better know in advance or you’ll sound like a Hannah Montana fan.
This is why learning to elevator pitch — how to deliver your message is 60 seconds or less — is one of the most important skills to develop if you ever plan on interacting with real players and demi-gods like the Oracle of Omaha…

Why? One example: there are 10,000+ people camping in the rain overnight just to attempt to meet Warren when he walks into the annual shareholder meeting tomorrow morning. 10,000 people.

For meeting VIPs in crowded settings, the goal should be to do 3 things in an introduction of no more than 60 seconds:

1st. Establish credibility. Cite 1-2 examples of social proof like media or association with reputable companies/organizations. Do not speak quickly during an elevator pitch. Slow and calm.

2nd. Make it clear you are not looking for money (unless you are) but have something of interest to discuss after much research, and then ask how you can follow up in a less hectic environment. Give them your card with below #3 handwritten on it.

3nd. Mention something very, very hard to forget about you that separates you from the rest. It doesn’t need to have anything to do with your reason for wanting to meet them. For me, tango is my default. I’ll close with something like: "Just so you remember, as I know you’ll meet a million people today, I’m the world record holder in the tango. Happy to give you and Astrid a lesson sometime if the stars align." Referring to this odd fact will be important when you follow up.
If you meet them at an event or around other people, do not follow up within the next 3 days, as everyone else will. I like to give at least one week and then cite the bolded reason in the previous sentence as my reason for waiting.