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The 60 Second Elevator Pitch Part 2

The 60 Second Elevator Pitch: An Essential Tool for Marketing Yourself

(Part 2 of a two-part series)

By Elizabeth Sagermann

Making a good first impression is key to growing your business and potential network. Therefore, a concise, snappy one-minute explanation of you and what you offer can become a vital tool for you.

The concept of the 'Elevator Pitch' has been around for many years -what if you got into an elevator where the ride lasts one minute, and there next to you stands someone that you have desperately been trying to connect with? You now have that one, very precious minute to tell them who you are, what you do and what you can do for them.  Sound easy? It's not! It takes time and thought to plan out what you want to convey in a short 200 words, lasting one minute!

time hour glass elevator pitchPicking up from last time, let's continue with the "7 Steps for Writing a Powerful Elevator Pitch" framework from the Harvard Business School. Each of these steps provide a vigorous mental 'workout' as you think about your business, who you are, what you do and how you communicate.  Your succinct responses to each step form your personalized elevator pitch. To recap, last time I covered off on the following 3 steps:

Step 1: Define who you are.  

Step 2: Describe what you do.

Step 3: Identify your real clients/customers.

We pick up at one of the most important steps in this process.

Step 4:

Explain what's unique and different about you and your business.

In order to tackle this step, it is important to determine how you are positioning your business in the marketplace, relative to the competition. The old term used to highlight differentiation was called USP or Unique Selling Proposition. However, this has been replaced by the more modern concept of a positioning statement, used to describe what place your brand (service, or good) should occupy in a consumer/client's mind compared to the competition. This is key! What makes what you do different and how does that benefit the customer? One tip - it's important recognize the crucial difference between a feature and benefit. A feature is a distinctive characteristic of a product or service, while a benefit lays out what's in it for the customer. Guess what the customer hears? The benefit - anything that pertains to how they might save time, money, get better access, be more productive, get a faster response time, etc.

Example:

"As an independent IT consultant, I am in a unique position to help small companies because I understand the challenges that arise without existing IT support. In short, this manifests itself through employee frustration, stress, and lack of success in the workplace. I make it a point to stay current on the latest in business technology. With this knowledge I am able to bring innovative solutions and programs to organizations. My services provide support and ultimately improve productivity by reducing downtime and creating a more positive work environment."

Step 5:

State what you want to happen next. Write 1-2 sentences that identify what you want your audience to do next.

Example:

"I would like to schedule a time to talk about some of your technology issues and explore how I might be able to help you."

Step 6:

Create an attention getting hook. Write 1-2 sentences that pull in your audience to engage them in what you are about to say.

Example:  

"Are computer issues keeping you awake at night? Are you looking for a way to find solutions and increase productivity?"

Step 7:

Put it all together. Combine the statements you drafted in the previous steps, putting Step 6 first. Then add transitions, and edit it until it flows conversationally and captures the most important information.

The complete IT consultant example follows:

"Are computer issues keeping you awake at night? Are you looking for a way to find solutions and increase productivity?

"I am an IT consultant, with a strong expertise in the area of computers, software, and networking. I offer technical expertise to companies to assist them in solving IT challenges and ensure that they are up to date and trained on the latest computer technology. I assist clients with problem solving when issues arise as well as train staff on new programs and applications as required.

"My clients are small business owners who do not have regular IT support on staff, but have several computers on site and who require assistance in ensuring that all systems are functioning, communicating with one another and secure. My clients want to be up on the latest technology ensuring that they are in sync with their customers and able to meet their demands in a timely and efficient manner. As an independent IT consultant, I am in a unique position to help because I understand the challenges that arise without existing IT support. I've seen it firsthand! It manifests itself through employee frustration, stress, and lack of success in the workplace.   I make it a point to stay current on the latest in business technology. With this knowledge I am able to bring innovative solutions and programs to organizations. And - I communicate so everyone understands with minimal computer geek terminology! My services provide support and ultimately improve productivity by reducing downtime and creating a more positive work environment.

"I would like to schedule a time to talk about some of your technology issues and explore how I might be able to help you."

The nice thing about this format is that you can play with it, rehearse it and smooth it out. Practice in front of the mirror, on your friends or even on family pets, they make great listeners! This skill is like a good wine – it gets better over time. The next time you find yourself in front of a potential client, you'll be prepared, professional and well spoken.

Elizabeth Sagermann is owner of ERS Consulting.

With 26 years of experience in pharmaceuticals, financial services, and training at various levels, Liz offers assistance to organizations and individuals in the areas of strategic planning, marketing projects and sales training.

Other roles that Liz holds include that of wife, mother of 2 young adults and a menagerie of pets, gardener, horsewoman, amateur photographer and happy passenger on the back of her husband's motorcycle.   Liz and her husband reside in King Township, north of Toronto.

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