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The Art of the Elevator Pitch

If you can’t articulate what you do, how can you explain it to the market?

A few months ago the team at In The Box attended a training session that made us realise something: we don’t always take our own advice. (A plumber’s tap…). We spent a lot of time honing pitches for our clients but scarce little refining our own. Sure, we could list the services we provide and point to the returns those services have delivered to clients, but we couldn’t succinctly sum up what we do, and what the ‘In the Box difference’ really is. We knew that had to change – it’s something we have always known is important and we spend a lot of time working on client messaging, so it was about time we worked on our own.

What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch should be a short and memorable summing up of what your business does and what it stands for. It’s called an elevator pitch is because it should last no longer than the average elevator ride – about 20 to 30 seconds. It can be a difficult thing to do. You know the intricacies and subtleties of your business. You’ve carefully developed variations of your products and services to meet market demands. You’ve collected a range of metrics to demonstrate how you add value. By the time you’ve thought of all that, the proverbial elevator has already reached its destination and the opportunity is gone.

How do you prepare an elevator pitch?

The first step is to understand your primary goal in developing an elevator pitch. Is it to help salespeople make calls, to allow you to make a strong impression at networking meetings, or something else? If you have a new product or service, you might want to frame your pitch with that in mind. Once you’re clear on why you want to say it, you need to sum up in a sentence or two what you do. We know your business is complex but the hard truth is, you’re talking to someone you don’t know and they don’t really care about the details…not yet.

As well as a great conversation opener, crafting an elevator pitch can be a great way to bring clarity to your goals, USPs and the real difference you make to your customers.”

The point of a good pitch is to open the conversation so you can provide more details, but you have to start simple. You should also provide your USP and encourage interaction which opens up the conversation. This could be a big claim – “We know XX% of business don’t do Y and miss out on £ZZZZ in revenue every year,” – or you could ask a question – “How do you manage health and safety issues in your business?” Or you can make a statement that invites further conversation, such as stating a simple truth that is hard for most businesses to ignore. This allows you to extend the conversation and get beyond the elevator pitch – but you still need that pitch to get your foot in the door.

Benefits of an elevator pitch

As well as a great conversation opener, crafting an elevator pitch can be a great way to bring clarity to your goals, USPs and the real difference you make to your customers. This then feeds back into your business strategy including marketing plans, product development and service delivery. You’ll have a memorable tagline for your marketing messaging, a clearer idea of the company’s mission and can take a sense of pride in the company and what it represents. The right pitch can increase staff motivation as well, because it will demonstrate the value of their own work.

Practising what we preach: In The Box elevator pitch

Although we started In The Box with what might be considered an unspoken elevator pitch, we hadn’t spent any time actually trying to articulate it. Once we realised it was missing, we put all the elements together and wrote it. Our pitch is very simple and is based on our strong convictions gained from personal experience. Here it is:

There is marketing potential in every business, even though not every business can make the most of it. That potential comes from the expertise and experience of its people. 

We help businesses to find their voice, turning their knowledge, expertise and stories into assets that will improve their reputation, reach and influence in their markets. We’re highly skilled at helping businesses to uncover their messages and share their stories. We believe great marketing comes from within. 

I suspect we’re not the first agency to say something like this and I don’t think we’re the only people in the world who do it. But as a statement it is true. It really is how we think, based on our professional experience, and it really does summarise what we’re good at.

We’re passionate advocates of the huge marketing value locked away in employee/management narratives, from winning case studies to customer satisfaction stories to expertise and knowledge that can be shared. We help people to do that – and we enjoy it, too.

Have you thought about your elevator pitch? Is it true? Does it represent your convictions about your business, and is it something your whole team can get behind? If you’d like to discuss your wider brand messaging for your company, get in touch.

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