Your 30 Second Elevator Pitch to Boredom

So you think you have the ultimate 30 second pitch to tell people all about your company?  How many new prospects have you landed from it?  How many new customers can you equate to it’s success?  Have you tried to measure?

A few weeks back, I attended a workshop hosted by the BIG Council of Charlotte.  They are an exceptional entrepreneurial group for high growth companies, headed by one of my favorite women in business, Terry Cox.  The topic of the workshop was “The Art of the Pitch” presented by Bill Whitley of The Bill Whitley Company.  I’ve met and seen Bill over the years many times.  I’ve been to his seminars and enjoyed the conversations we’ve had.  Bill was a successful entrepreneur as far back as when I found myself sucked into the early internet days selling web design and collocation hosting back in 1997.  As his journey went on, he began focusing on writing books, speaking and consulting.  I remember the first book I read of his called Story Selling and how it fundamentally shaped the way I approach helping great companies, brands and teams around Charlotte and across the country, tell their story on their websites, videos, social media, emails and all other forms of inbound marketing.  Later, he introduced me to the Six Thinking Hats®, a simple, effective parallel thinking process that helps people be more productive and makes decision making more collaborative and a whole heck of a lot less argumentative.  That concept helps me work with clients as we mull over the countless options for interactive and inbound marketing, web design and mobile app development.

Writing and speaking really seems to be Bill’s sweet spot, because he’s damn good at it.  The kind of speaker and author that you walk away from with some real ideas and action items.  Today, he is focusing more around the insurance industry, but the messages he communicates are applicable to just about anyone.

Coming back to the event “The Art of the Pitch” from a few weeks back, Bill has a whole lot of information to share about how to create effective client attraction stories (formerly Story Selling).  As a marketer and a marketing agency, I knew the topic matter was very relevant to my own business and those companies I serve.  Now, I’m not here to share a lot of the information I took away from his workshop, if you want that, please buy his books or attend his seminars.  I want to share one particular topic that sticks in my mind.

Over the years, you’ve probably been told (over and over) that you need an “Elevator Pitch,” something you can share with someone literally on elevators, or cocktail parties or in any setting where you meet people.  The Elevator pitch is often used as the basis for the consolidated “About Us” content you may create for your marketing initiatives.  If you’re like me, you’ve probably been under the impression that an elevator pitch should be 30 seconds long.  Well, after attending Bill’s workshop, I can assure you that we’ve got the idea all wrong.  Bill did one simple exercise to completely dispel the theory of a 30 second elevator pitch.  All he did was to show us how much blathering someone can do in 5 second increments by timing it on his watch.  The entire group broke down in laughter when he did that and yes we were all ENGAGED.  The fact is that if you try to tell someone in over 30 seconds what you do, you’ll lose them after just a few seconds.  It’s absolutely true.  Time yourself with your thirty second pitch.  Better yet, try to casually listen to someone giving you their pitch.  You’ll see.  I recognize that if you are actually trying to listen you probably will, but if you’re not really focused on listening to the full story, you won’t.

Like I said, there were tons of great ideas, strategies and examples of crafting effective client attraction stories.  Many of which are going to refine the practice I use once again for my clients and my own agency.  But for whatever reason, that 30 second elevator pitch really stuck in my mind.  I actually went back to my office and transcribed what I thought was my 30 second pitch and it was rather long winded (kind of like this post).

So what is a marketer to do about the elevator pitch?

Well, the one great piece of advice is try to come up with a sentence or two that gets the other person to ask a question after you tell them.  It’s hook can be used to actually generate more interest and greater attention to the response.  It gets the other person to be more attracted to you (there it is again… client attraction stories).  If that happens, you’re more likely to create an opportunity for yourself if the other person happens to be the kind of person who buys from you and your company.  And if they aren’t, they are more likely to remember your story, which they can refer to potential buyers they may come across.

So, in our case, when someone walks up at a networking event and says “What do you do Marc?”  No more bologna “I own an interactive marketing agency in Charlotte, NC that does web, mobile, social media and video production services.”  Nope… now my answer is going to be more refined to “We help marketers and executives create more profitable connections with their customers.”  Hopefully, they ask how.

Bottom Line

Think about your elevator pitch.  It’s not just sales… it’s about content marketing, branding and developing your client attraction story.  Go for it!
photo credit: You Give Your Hand to Me via photopin (license)

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