When was the last time you hit refresh on your elevator pitch? If you have to think about it or worse, realize you don’t have one established, then it’s time to prep for writing a new one.
The length of an elevator pitch is generally 15-30 seconds. This gives you just enough time to say everything and nothing all at once. There’s a fine line to tread between sharing too much or not enough about your business, so what should you say? Craft your elevator pitch for success from the start by following these guidelines.
Watch a movie trailer.
This is, without a doubt, one of the best pieces of starting advice I have ever heard in regards to writing an elevator pitch that works. The credit goes to Mitchell Nathanson, a Professor of Law at Villanova University School of Law. He advises his students to watch movie trailers before crafting an effective elevator pitch.
“A movie trailer appears to tell the audience everything about the movie, but it actually doesn’t.” Nathanson explains, “It neatly packages the best aspects of a two-plus hour movie in two minutes or less. A trailer conveys only what the audience needs to know to encourage ticket purchases.”
Once the trailer has been watched, Nathanson has his students ask themselves what it is they could say about themselves in less than two minutes that would convince their audience to want more. Nathanson advises picking two things — no more — about yourself or experience. Focus on driving those things home.
“The impression you want to leave is the same one movie studios hope their trailers generate — the ‘WOW!’ factor. I need to know more about that!” Nathanson says.
Skip excessive details to demonstrate proof of concept.
It’s not uncommon to share too many details during an initial elevator pitch. Theo Lee, Co-Founder and CEO of Korean food brand KPOP Foods, learned early into starting a business that details can come later.
The detail that can’t wait is the demonstration of proof of concept. Alongside Co-Founder Mike Kim, Lee started KPOP Foods by debuting their first product, KPOP Sauce, on Kickstarter. The campaign raised nearly $40,000 from more than 1,200 backers. It was a key component in Lee’s elevator pitch because it showed traction. The success of the Kickstarter campaign enabled him to elaborate to others how they hit their goal of $10,000 during the campaign’s first eight hours.
It also helped keep the elevator pitch to the point. “Initially, our pitches were too long in explaining what KPOP Foods was.” Lee admits, “It took us time to fine-tune the introduction to the company into one sentence. However, it was important as it quickly gave someone an idea of who we were without going into elaborative details. This allows achievements and traction to clearly shine.”
Use the right pronouns.
How often does one pay attention to pronouns during their elevator pitch? Chances are, you might be too focused on squeezing in a ton of first-person pronouns like “I” or “we.” The end game is to attract investors, customers, and interest in your business, its offerings, and yourself… Right?
Ultimately, first person is nowhere near as direct or personal as second person pronouns. Katy Mansell-Carter, a Toronto-based copywriting expert, advises using second person pronouns in elevator pitches instead. “Switching out I/we and my/our for words like ‘you’ and ‘you’re’ will have a dramatic impact on how your pitch is received.”
For example, take a look at this sentence: “You’ll love the way our customer service team takes care of your business.”
“If you compare it to the age-old ‘We pride ourselves on our exceptional customer service.’ you’ll find it is far more memorable and powerful.” Mansell-Carter says.
Mansell-Carter notes that using second person pronouns also allows elevator pitches to start with the listener in mind. “Focus on how you, your product, or service can help the person in front of you. What can you help them dream up, achieve, take control of, or stop stressing over?”
Speak to just one person.
Barry Cohen is a business owner at Business Solutions for Growth. His wife is also an entrepreneur and together the pair coach solo and couple entrepreneurs. Cohen is a firm believer that an elevator pitch is not a one-size-fits-all situation. Rather, it should be targeted to one person — and one person only.
This is scary for anyone, entrepreneur or not, to think about when it comes to a pitch’s delivery. However, every bit of advice in this post — from watching movie trailers to determine your two things to pronoun use to proof of concept — has led to this moment. It’s time to talk one on one.
“It may seem scary to niche down to that small of an audience.” Cohen admits, “But, we have learned over the years that other people will hear it. They will pay attention to it, and want to know more from you.”
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com which provides online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, startup bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent services, DBAs, and trademark and copyright filing services. You can find MyCorporation on Twitter at @MyCorporation.