Can you describe your startup convincingly in less than a minute?
No? Well, then read on.
An elevator pitch is exactly what it sounds like — a pitch that you should be able to deliver between floors of an elevator. Say, should you suddenly find yourself in the same elevator with a certain potential investor or business partner.
Keep in mind: A great elevator pitch doesn’t happen automatically. You shouldn’t rely on your ability to wing it, unless you want to stutteringly describe your startup as “…the Uber of XYZ”.
A solid elevator pitch is essential to any startup worth its salt. It’s a versatile piece that can be used for anything from piquing the interest of an investor to landing a potential client. And regardless of whether you plan on delivering your elevator pitch as a speech in person or in a presentation, the framework is the same. Keep it brief, interesting, and on point. You only have so much time to capture a listener’s interest, and if you keep on rambling for three minutes, chances are your potential listener is tuning out…
But before we dig deeper, let’s make things clear: What exactly is an elevator pitch? It’s a short-and-sweet pitch that describes what your company does as well as what it can do for the potential client (or, in the long run, an investor). You might have the most kickass service on the market, but if you can’t make your customers see it, then you have no business.
Perfect. Then let’s get into the weeds.
The Elements of a Convincing Elevator Pitch
This might seem obvious. But you’d be surprised how often it’s not. Start off by presenting yourself to make the pitch personal.
2. Your company’s name
Again, obvious. But not always. Hammer home your company’s name in the beginning and towards the end. The listener should leave the pitch remembering it.
3. Product or service description
Provide a succinct description of what your company does. Ensure there is no room for confusion here. Be clear and be direct.
4. Your target audience
Explain who your product or service is targeted at. Who will use it and why?
5. Your unique selling point
What makes you stand out from the competition? Be super-concrete here. If this part is waffly, you can be sure to garner scepticism. It can’t be something like “it’s better quality”. It has to be tangible and — if possible — quantifiable.
6. A call to action
Finally, end your pitch with a call to action. Leave your listener to respond to your pitch. The pitch isn’t actually meant to close a deal, it’s merely an opener to a dialogue.
These elements should be in any elevator pitch. And now, let’s look at how you actually put it together.
How to Create an Elevator Pitch in 7 Steps
Show what problem it will solve
First, explain what problem this solves and why. Be sure to solve a specific problem and don’t go too broad. There’s no point in trying to a panacea for all the world’s ills. Instead, identify a specific issue that your product or service will tackle efficiently.
2. Explain what you’re offering
Next, i explain what you’re offering and what it does. It’s imperative here that you are clear as crystal: Don’t leave your listeners confused. Describe in detail what your company does, and how it does it, and what the benefits are. No need to use fancy words here, a five year old should be able to understand this part, ideally.
Also, make sure you explain why now. What makes this the right time?
3. Nail down your target audience
Who is this product or service aimed at? And nope, the answer can’t be “everyone”. There must be a certain customer segment that you’re targeting. Maybe you’re going dog owners, developers or new moms. Either way, describe them here and outline why they — specifically — would be interested in your offer. What is the problem this specific group of people has?
4. Identify the competition
You might think you’re unique, but in all likelihood you’re not. There’s always some form of competition out there. And let’s face it: that’s a good thing. If you’re a “first mover” it’s usually not because you’ve stumbled upon something unique. More likely, it’s because others have realized there is no need for what you’re offering.
So address your competition and describe why you do it better than them. What separates you from the rest, and why is it better?
5. Identify the obstacles
Nothing good comes easy, and there will always be obstacles on the way. Instead of ignoring these, show that you’ve identified any potential hurdles from the start. Then, of course, also show that you have a plan for tackling and surmounting these obstacles. That way, you show that you are prepared and ready to face the challenges ahead.
6. Demonstrate return in investment
This is mostly for investors, but could interest potential clients or partners as well. Basically, you have to make the case for financial viability here. Demonstrate that you have a plan for your business and a financial outline on how to move forward. You don’t have to explain every single detail, but show that you have a solid business model that will be profitable in the long run. This could include market-size and notable industry exits, for example.
Also set a timeline of deliverables. When will your product be in the market? Or when will you reach a certain milestone? Get something concrete in here to set expectations and show you mean business.
7. Round off with a call to action
What do you want the listener to do after your pitch? Again, the elevator pitch is an invitation to a dialogue. Leave your listener with something to do after hearing your pitch.
So what does a solid elevator pitch sound like?
Written elevator pitches can work well for inspiration. But it’s usually best to watch a delivery for yourself. First, check out this pitch from Evernote. It’s a true elevator pitch. In less than a minute, CEO Phil Libin delivers the what, how, and why of the company. Short, snappy, and effective.
A solid elevator pitch isn’t necessarily rocket science. All you need to do is clearly describe what you do, why you do it, and for whom. Follow the seven steps above, and you should be well on your way to having a working elevator pitch.
But before you go live, pitch it to a few friends first. That way, you’ll get a better grasp of what works and what doesn’t, and you won’t have to stand red-faced in front of a potential investor…