It’s tempting to prioritize your startup’s elevator pitch somewhere between watering the office ficus and ordering extra paper towels for the break room. After all, they can be hard to develop and even harder to deliver. However, it’s important that business owners not underestimate the power of a solid elevator pitch and the impact it has on the success of your business.
Arm yourself with a brief, to-the-point synopsis of what your startup is all about to lay the groundwork for clients, customers, and investors to learn the basics about your company. A clear, conversational, and relatable elevator pitch lends a personal touch to your customer and investor outreach strategies in ways that cold calls or emails simply can’t.
You have about 30 seconds or less to pique your listener’s interest. That may seem like a daunting task but with a little planning, it’s possible to pack a lot of information into a short time frame. Let’s look at the five main points of information your elevator pitch must contain for maximum effectiveness.
Who you are
This seems obvious but it’s easy to leave out the most important bits of information when you’re nervous or flustered. This isn’t the time to haul out your entire resume so stick to the basics; just your name and the name of your company.
Now you’ve got about 25 seconds left. Jacek Grebski, Partner at digital product agency SWARM, says use this time to shine. “It’s all about you. For the next few seconds the world really is revolving around you, so knock the audience dead.”
What you do
Once you’ve established a connection, use the opportunity to succinctly explain what your startup does and your role in the organization. Resist the urge to pepper your elevator pitch with industry jargon or unnecessary terminology that requires additional explanation.
“Your message and value proposition will quickly sink in a sea of jargon and buzzwords,” says growth and funding strategist Ron Flavin. “Use powerful, strong words that emphasize key points and create a visual image. And remember, if you can make your point with just a few words, do it. More words does not necessarily equate to more impact.”
Why you do it
This is likely to be your favorite part of the elevator pitch because it gives you a chance to share your excitement about why you work so hard. Let your passion flag fly!
“Passion will ensure your pitch is memorable, unique, and engaging. Don’t be afraid to show your enthusiasm; it could be the difference between a closed door and another conversation,” notes entrepreneur Michal Ugor.
Who do you do it for
This section of the elevator pitch focuses your target customer or market segment. This is one of the easiest portions of your pitch since you’ve already identified your customer base in your business plan and the legwork is already done.
It’s worth considering whether to create a couple of ways to address this section of your pitch based on different contexts. You may find it useful to modify your response depending on its relevance to the event or situation where you’re delivering your message. For instance, talking about your customer base during a networking event may require a more nuanced response than during the course of a casual conversation.
How your customers benefit
This is the real heart of your elevator pitch and the big moment the listener has been waiting for. Here’s where you explain what’s in it for your customers and how they benefit from your startup’s product or service.
Use these last few seconds to identify your customers’ pain points and how your company is uniquely qualified to address them. Details and extended explanations aren’t necessary, just offer a 10,000-foot overview will suffice.
Once you’ve crafted and refined your pitch go find an actual elevator where you can practice your delivery. Professional development consultant Laura Katen recommends, “The next time you ride an elevator (alone), practice your speech. First, give yourself some time by going to the highest floor. Then, try giving your pitch from a middle floor and from the first to the third floor, too. Having to make just a few brief moments count will help you to hone the words you need and scrap the ones you don’t!”
About Lisa McGreevy
Lisa McGreevy is a professional freelance columnist with over 18 years experience covering enterprise products and services, brand marketing, and emerging technology.