What's your Elevator Pitch?

by: Adam

45-sec elevator pitch

As published in Spectrum Magazine (Cambridge Chamber) – Adam Oldfield Summer 2014

You have probably already heard of the elevator pitch. This is where you give your sales pitch in about 30 – 45 seconds to someone you want to do business with about why they should do business with you. I believe everyone should have an elevator pitch, in fact I preach to many businesses that they need to have a clear communicative message at all times.  But your elevator pitch isn’t just exclusively to companies.  You should have your own 45-second sales pitch as well.

There are 4 groups that you want to have a consistent understanding of your business:

  1. The first group, really isn’t a group, its just you. What is your 45 second sales pitch about yourself?
  2. The second group.  Your staff or friends.  What would your staff (friends) say in about 45 seconds about you and who you are?
  3. The third group is your customer. What is it they would say about your business in that 45 seconds?
  4. And finally the fourth group is your suppliers.

Analyzing these 4 groups and what they would say in that crucial 45 seconds, are critical in understanding if your message is consistent.

I will use an example of a company that has done extremely well in building and developing their elevator pitch. Apple Computers. They have spent years identifying who they are and what makes them unique in the marketplace. I’m sure if I asked any employee at an Apple store, ‘What is Apple?’, I would get the same consistent answer from all of them as I would if I were sitting with the Board of Directors from Apple.  That message would be the same as well from each of Apples customers as well.  This is an excellent example of a company that has a consistent brand message that they have successfully communicated through a 45-second pitch.

Why is it important to have your elevator pitch regardless of whether you are a business or for yourself personally? Let me give you a quick example of why it’s critical. You only have a few seconds to make a first impression. People have made their assumption as to who you are in the first 10 seconds when they look at you, followed by the next 20 seconds of giving you a chance to introduce and explain yourself. If you don’t get it all right the first time it will take you a very long time to get back any credibility that you hoped to achieve.

As I deal with businesses every day, the way I dress needs to match what I do and who I am. I’m all about business. In fact, so much that I feel uncomfortable wearing jeans and a t-shirt. It is not uncommon to see me in a dress shirt, a suit with a vest and a tie. One thing is for certain I may look overdressed but you definitely know who I am and what my purpose is when I go to work each day. I commonly get comments on how I appear at a meeting. I’m perfectly fine with it because the image I’m trying to portray and my 45 second elevator pitch go very well together. I also try to portray my professionalism through how I look and my brand message is delivered based on what I want my company and what I want to achieve.

You start this by putting together your mission statement and your vision statement. Your mission statement is what you are, and your vision statement is who you’re going to be. You don’t need a business to have a mission and a vision statement. In fact I believe everybody has in their mind who they are and where they want to be. You might’ve heard of the common question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, “What are you going to school for?” I look at those questions as what is your vision statement. And when someone asks “What is it you do?” this is your mission statement.

You should seriously take the time and understand who you are and who you want to be and then work on your 45 second elevator pitch. It will help you in getting that job, closing the deal and who knows maybe getting that relationship with that special someone. It will also help with any questions that you have about yourself or your business when you feel you don’t know who you are or where you’re going to be in the future. If you ever want to find out my elevator pitch.   Call me sometime and we’ll find an elevator with 21 floors.   It actually takes 45-seconds to get to the top, I know I tried.

Adam Oldfield