How to Effectively Craft Your Elevator Pitch to the Right Audience

How do you make a sale or earn someone's trust in just 30 seconds? You don’t. But that doesn't mean an effective elevator pitch can't help you turn those 30 seconds into an opportunity.

How do you make a sale or earn someone's trust in just 30 seconds? 

You don’t. 

But that doesn't mean an effective elevator pitch can't help you turn those 30 seconds into an opportunity.

It’s not easy, but when done right, an elevator pitch can be a powerful tool to grow your business. This post will get you started on the path to connecting with new customers, investors, and employees. 

Preparing For Success In The Elevator

Make a Goal That Isn't Transactional

The "pitch" in "elevator pitch" makes it sound like you are selling, but people don't buy things in elevators. Well…they don't buy anything legal in an elevator.

Compelling elevator pitches focus on relationships, not transactions. Set a goal that helps you get to know the person better or provides an opportunity to serve them. Look for a natural next step like a lunch appointment (bonus points if you don't make them feel like you're there to sell something when you go to lunch). See if you can identify an opportunity to introduce them to a strategic person or resource. 

This approach to networking and elevator pitches takes patience. Salespeople feel more confident when they go directly after opportunities, but you get what you give in sales and networking. If you set goals for relationship building, you will build a network that feeds your sales pipeline for years to come. If you try to get opportunities to fill your sales pipeline today, you will struggle. 

Don’t Talk First

Once you perfect your elevator pitch, you'll be tempted to launch right into it during the handshake. But you should let the other person talk first and ask excellent questions before sharing your elevator pitch. Ask about their work, their customers, or how they find new customers. You may not leave yourself much time to talk, but the person will be interested in you because you were interested in them. You will also learn things about your new acquaintance and how they communicate that will help you tailor your pitch to your new acquaintance (see the "Be Flexible" section). 

Don't make it weird if the person doesn't want to talk first. This isn't a power play maneuver. The goal is to demonstrate you are more interested in listening than talking about yourself. If you awkwardly force the other person to talk first, you've only shown a lack of social grace. 

Who Are You Talking To?

All these principles apply whether you're talking to a potential customer, investor, or team member, but you should tailor your elevator pitch based on the audience. Adjust your message based on what they care about most. 

Investors want to know you have a vision for the company and a plan to get there. Stay away from numbers and money until you get a longer meeting because you haven't earned credibility yet. 

Customers want to know that you understand them and can help them solve a problem. You'll have to earn the credibility to talk about how great you are. Or better yet, load your website up with testimonials and case studies so your clients can do this for you. 

If you’re trying to get someone to join your team, share what you do AND be clear about why your work matters. Focusing on why you do what you do is important because the best employees need to believe in their work. 

Be Flexible

You should write a script for your elevator pitch and thoroughly memorize it, but that doesn't mean you should follow the script every time. You should know your script so well that you can seamlessly and naturally adjust it based on a real-life conversation with an individual. We will give you bonus points if you incorporate an analogy from their story into your elevator pitch.

An Elevator Pitch Done Right: Let Them Put You In a Box

Setting non-transactional goals gets you in the right mindset, but your elevator pitch won't help build the right kind of relationships unless it clarifies what you do and who you serve. So now it's time to develop an elevator pitch that puts you in a box. 

An elevator pitch that puts you in a box? We get it. What you do is complicated. You serve a variety of customers in a multitude of ways. You are a special snowflake, and the nuances of your work are a wonder and a marvel. But if you try to communicate that in an elevator pitch, you'll melt before you hit the ground.

You have to put yourself in a small, simple box that the person you are talking to can understand. Let's look at possible elevator pitches for Electromagnetic Marketing to explore a few pitfalls that can derail your elevator pitch. 

Pitfall #1: Industry Jargon

"We are a content marketing agency that helps manufacturers develop marketing funnels and gated resources to generate inbound leads." 

Unless I'm talking to a professional marketer, my new acquaintance won't understand several terms in this elevator pitch. Industry jargon doesn't make you sound competent. It just creates a wall between you and the person you're trying to connect with. 

Pitfall #2: Broad Descriptions

"We are a full-service marketing firm that provides brand development, messaging, design, content creation, SEO, paid advertising, social, email, video, photography, and web development services. We work with companies across a wide range of industries, including home services, manufacturing, financial services, and non-profits." 

If the person I was talking to was paying attention (which I doubt), they had no idea what Electromagnetic Marketing is best at. I've basically just told them, "I can provide random marketing services for every company you've ever heard of." I haven't given them something focused and specific that could help them put me in a box.

Pitfall #3: Overly Promotional 

"We are the best marketing agency for manufacturing and industry in Alabama because our messaging team does an outstanding job communicating technical expertise for engineers."

When you first meet someone, you haven't earned the credibility to make claims like "best" and "outstanding." Instead of promoting yourself, talk about the problem you solve for your customers. This establishes your excellence and expertise more effectively than just making a claim.  

An Elevator Pitch Done Right

"We help manufacturing, and industrial clients understand what motivates the people they are trying to reach and use digital tools to build connections and generate leads." 

That doesn't describe everything we do, but it clearly describes something we do. This puts us in a box that most people can understand. Are there other boxes we could put ourselves in? Of course! If we've done a good job listening, we can BE FLEXIBLE and adjust the box we put ourselves in based on the person we are talking to. But since we can't describe every box in an elevator pitch, we have to make some hard choices.

Remember, clarity is kindness.  Your elevator pitch will be more effective if you help people put you in a box, even if the box is a little too small for comfort.  

Here’s a bonus piece of advice. Never act as though you NEED anything. If you come across as desperate, nobody will want to hear more. Before any pitch conversation, consider you can value each other as acquaintances and friends at the end of the exchange. You’ll be surprised how much better these “pitches” go.

Give a little love to your elevator (pitch)!

If you want to run your pitch by someone who knows a thing or two about marketing yourself in all kinds of situations, we’d love to talk! We can help you develop a clear, compelling, and effective message for your next pitch. 

Contact us here to connect!

Writer: Jamie Parris
Editor: SK Vaugn

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