Do you need an elevator pitch to sell a product idea to investors or raise fund? If YES, here are 7 steps to writing an effective elevator pitch for your business.
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What is an Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch or elevator speech is a short overview of what your business, product or service is all about. This kind of pitch is typically used in face-to-face networking to sell a business at the shortest possible time. For a lot of entrepreneurs, the elevator pitch enables them to answer the “So, what do you do?” question perfectly without scrambling all over for words.
Being a quick summary of your business and its value proposition, a great elevator speech is built to spark interest in your business and hopefully lead you into a more deeper conversation with a client. An elevator pitch can be one of the simplest yet most powerful tools for a small business owner, if it is done right.
As the name implies, an elevator pitch is usually short and is meant to be delivered in the time it takes to complete and average elevator ride. With that in mind, the length of the average elevator pitch is usually between 150-250 words. The length can vary, but you should be able to present your elevator pitch comfortably under two minutes, or even under one minute.
Why Write an Elevator Pitch? What’s the Importance?
It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to raise money for your business or just want to perfect your business strategy, a solid elevator pitch is an essential tool for achieving your goals. Business professionals, entrepreneurs and job seekers use the elevator pitch to generate business opportunities, partnerships, investor interest, customers and job leads.
A well-crafted elevator speech is your first opportunity to introduce your company to potential customers, investors, and referrals at any place you may find yourself, including places that don’t allow time for much conversation, such as an airport, parties or even an elevator. You get to apply your elevator pitch in these places because you never know if you are talking to that one person who might be able to help take your company to the next level. Having a good elevator pitch ready can help entrepreneurs make the best of brief encounters with potential investors.
What Your Elevator Speech Should Cover
An elevator pitch has its own rules, and if you don’t abide by those rules while writing your pitch, you may end up coming up with something that is insufficient, that can shore up more questions than answers. This is why you need to take great care when writing your elevator script. To get an effective elevator pitch, these are things you have to incorporate into it.
a. The problem your company solves: This is essentially the first way to start. Your company and every other company for that matter exist to solve a problem. you must tell people of the problem that your company is out to solve.
Most people usually craft this section inform of a question. They can use phrases like, “Did you know that…?” or “You know how people have trouble with…?” etc. Your goal is to connect with your audience and get them to relate with what you are saying. Hopefully, the problem you are solving is something they have had to deal with at one point or the other.
The market you serve: If you are solving a problem, then you must have a target market. All successful companies target specific types of customers. While some business people might claim that their products and services are for “everyone,” you’re much more likely to be successful if you are trying to market to a specific set of potential customers.
For example, it would be easy to say that your new restaurant is for anyone that needs to eat. But, that salon will have a much better time marketing and attracting potential customers if it knows what kinds of customers it would like to serve.
b. The solution you are offering: This is probably the easiest part of any pitch as it is where you describe what your company actually makes or sells. Your solution needs to solve the problem you’ve described and be the right choice for your target customer.
c. The value your business offers: The value that you provide to your target market is the glue that makes your solution right for your customer. It’s the reason why your customer is going to want your product or service. You have to note that an elevator pitch is not a sales pitch, so you should not get caught up in using the entire pitch to tell the Investor how great your product or service is. The Investor is “buying” the business, not the product. Tell him/her how you run the business.
d. Your progress so far: Anyone who wants to learn more about your company is going to want to know what you’ve done so far. Do you already have customers? Are you still in the early stages of development? If you have recently received an award that’s worth talking about, you need to chip that in too.
e. Your experience: A great idea is nothing without the right people to turn it into a business. Your elevator speech needs to explain why you (and your team) are the right people to build the business.
f. Your goal: If you’re talking to a potential investor or someone who might know investors, mentioning a fundraising goal can be a good idea. Even if you’re not looking to raise money, you might have other goals such as your first sale, or closing a big account. You never know if the person you are talking to might be able to help you out.
9 Tips on How to Write a Perfect Elevator Pitch
i. Gauge the length
An elevator pitch ought to be small and compact. It is called an elevator pitch because it has to fit into the time it takes to take an elevator ride. If the pitch does not fit into that frame, then it is too long. Some recommend that it should be between 10 and 35 seconds, and comprising about 40 words. It’s easy to go on and on about a topic that you’re passionate about, but you need to respect the people you’re talking to and be careful not to bore them.
ii. Know your product
You may be offering one particular unique product, but there is also another company offering same as you don’t have a monopoly of the product or service. Prior to crafting your elevator pitch, dig into the details of your products and services.
Consider what characteristics of your product that are unique and sets your business apart from the competition. The better you know your products and services and your target audience, the more confident you’ll be when giving your elevator pitch and answering follow-up questions.
iii. Keep your goal in mind
The goal of your elevator speech is not to convey every last bit of information about your business. The goal is to spark interest. You want what you say to be memorable and interesting so that your audience would be asking follow up questions. The end goal of every pitch is to make connections, get a meeting, and get permission to explain your business in more detail.
iv. Keep it simple
An elevator pitch has to be given with simple language so you can pitch it to anyone. Endavour to stay away from jargon of any type if you want you pitch to score the desired goal you are aiming at. You should instead use clear strong statements that reveal your passion for your idea and that would also appeal to the listener’s needs and emotions. Your overall goal is to tell the listener what you do or what you are selling, and explain how you are different from your competition.
v. Create an attention grabbing lead
Start with an attention-grabber designed to spark interest and encourage questions. It is recommended that you start your pitch by explaining who you are, what your company does or sells and why your listener should be interested. For instance, a financial services business owner might start with “Payroll is often a huge challenge for small business.”
vi. Offer solutions
If your product or service does not solve a problem, then it shouldn’t be in the market. Your elevator pitch should contain how you intend to solve the problems of your would-be clients. You should appeal to your listener’s need for top quality or value. For instance, state that your payroll service does the work of three people — employees a small business can’t afford to hire or remove from other duties.
vii. Be flexible
Build flexibility into your elevator pitch to adjust based on the type of listener and information you learn during the encounter. For instance, make an adjustment to the solution you are offering if you learn that the listener operates an internet business and does not have a physical location. Adjust your language based on the listener. If you focus only on what you would do for an investor, a prospective customer will be left out. Make connections between your pitch and the listeners’ interests.
Depending on whom you are giving your speech to, you’ll want to tweak the details so you’re providing information that matches your audience’s knowledge. For example, if you’re pitching a medical device to a bunch of doctors, using more medical terminology is probably a good idea. But, if you’re explaining what you do to people who don’t have medical backgrounds, you may want use the everyday language that everyone can understand.
Again, some experts recommend having more than one elevator pitch. This is so you can have one for each peculiar situation. For example, the pitch you would use for a potential investor would not be one you would use for a client, and it will not be the same pitch you will use for a colleague.
viii. Practice, but don’t memorize
Yes, rehearsing is a good idea, but you don’t want to appear too scripted and robotic. Word-for-word memorization is is never the best way to proceed. You should aim at making your speech to feel conversational and natural so you can more easily connect with your audience.
You may need to practice your pitch repeatedly, but try to do it as an actor might. While writing the script, make note of the series of emotions that you want to evoke. The most important thing is to tie together the emotions as well as the important points you want to hit efficiently. Practice with the script, but dump the script at a point while trying to hit the various feelings and informational points. It would be a good idea to improvise words different from what you wrote. Try the script while emphasizing different feelings at different times.
The ultimate goal here is to be able to talk to someone, so as you make your pitch, realize that a human connection is more important than the specific words you use. Being authentic goes a lot further than being overly polished. Consider working with an acting coach on your delivery.
ix. Request an action from the listener
An elevator speech is usually given to elicit some action. This action may be to gain patronage, to gain investment or to get an appointment. Suggest scheduling an appointment to show your product or discuss your services more fully. Ask if you can follow up by sending your resume. Offer to exchange business cards. Your business card provides enough information, like a website address, for the listener to contact you.
7 Steps to Write an Effective Elevator Pitch for Your Business
Before you start writing, as yourself what do you want your audience to remember most about you. Keep in mind that your pitch should excite you first so that it can propel them to take action. People may not remember everything that you say, but they will likely remember your enthusiasm. Here is how you can write perfect elevator pitch.
Step 1: Create an Attention-Getting Hook
Open your pitch by getting the Investor’s attention with a hook. A statement or question that piques their interest to want to hear more. Write 1-2 sentences that pulls in your audience and gets them engaged in what you’re about to say. You can start this part with a question like, “Do you know that a lot of trucks in the U.K. aren’t carrying any cargo because they can’t find goods to carry on return trips?”
Step 2: Define Who You Are
Write one sentence about who you are.
Step 3: Describe What You Do
Use your mission statement and product/service listing as a guide, and write 1-2 sentences about what you do every day in your business. You can say, “We have created a technology company that matches empty trucks to companies looking to move cargo.”
Step 4: Identify Your Ideal Clients/Customers
Use your target audience description as a guide, and write 1-2 sentences about who your ideal clients or customers are.
Step 5: Explain What’s Unique and Different About You and Your Business
Your elevator pitch also needs to communicate your unique selling proposition, or USP. Identify what makes you, your organization, or your idea, unique. You’ll want to communicate your USP after you’ve talked about what you do. In elevator pitches, there’s no time to tell a long story. Instead, pull out the key points of your business or top-selling product to engage your audience. Think about the big picture instead of just listing product benefits, show value.
Use your unique selling proposition (USP) as a guide, and write 1-2 sentences about what sets you apart from every other business owner who does what you do. To highlight what makes your company unique, you could say, “We use a novel approach because unlike other companies, we visit each organization to find out exactly what they need.”
Step 5: State What You Want to Happen Next
After you communicate your USP, you need to engage your audience. To do this, prepare open-ended questions (questions that can’t be answered with a “yes” or “no” answer) to involve them in the conversation. Write 1-2 sentences that identifies what you want your audience to do next.
For example; “I’d love to schedule a time to talk more about some of your delegation and team challenges, and explore how we may be able to work together.”
Step 7: Put It All Together
Combine the statements you drafted in the previous steps. Then, add transitions and edit it until it flows conversationally and captures the most important information.
When you are done, you now have to read it aloud and use a stopwatch to time how long it takes. It should be no longer than 20-30 seconds, otherwise you risk losing the person’s interest, or monopolizing the conversation. After that, try to cut out anything doesn’t absolutely need to be there. Remember, your pitch needs to be snappy and compelling, so the shorter it is, the better
Step 8: Practice
Like anything else, practice makes perfect. Remember, how you say it is just as important as what you say. If you don’t practice, it’s likely that you’ll talk too fast, sound unnatural, or forget important elements of your pitch.
Set a goal to practice your pitch regularly. The more you practice, the more natural your pitch will become. You want it to sound like a smooth conversation, not an aggressive sales pitch. Make sure that you’re aware of your body language as you talk, which conveys just as much information to the listener as your words do. Practice in front of a mirror or, better yet, in front of colleagues until the pitch feels natural.
In conclusion, an effective elevator pitch can help you introduce yourself and break the ice in networking situations, so you should endavour to get yourself a killer pitch. Note that if your elevator pitch leaves much to be desired, then you would find it difficult to market your product or service.