An elevator pitch is generally defined as a sixty-second (more or less) speech where you give up the relevant details of your business, idea, or brand. So it has to be fast, cover all the salient points, and delivered with charm and style. But it can also be delivered as a pitch presentation or a one-page overview.
Whatever your needs are – whether you’re trying to raise capital or introduce yourself at a meet-and-greet – an elevator pitch is like a calling card where you and your voice are the card. You are going to need to make a great first impression, avoid ambiguity, and get straight to the point. You will need to ensure your pitch is lean, fat-free, and covers the most important aspects of your business. The aim is to hook someone in, convey value and relevance, and leave them feeling like they understand the big picture.
So how do you create the perfect elevator pitch?
Identify The Problem
Your business will not thrive if it is not solving a problem – so first you need to define what the problem actually is. It does not have to be a worldwide problem; it can be about anything as long as it is relevant to the individual you’re pitching to or the pain points of a general population that the individual can recognize. But you are going to provide the goods to solve it. So simple problems are fine. Here are some examples:
- “I wish I could find a great Indian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.”
- “Getting my Doctor’s office to return my calls sooner would be helpful.”
- “Shutting down racists from my Facebook feed would make my day brighter.”
You want to identify the problem in a simple sentence or two at the top of your pitch. That way people know exactly what your objective is and what type of market you’re trying to serve. Do your best to narrowly focus on the problem and not draw it out. Yes, problems have many facets to them – but don’t use this time to pontificate on every conceivable angle. Keep it concise and on point. Whatever you do, do not start with your solution because then you will be working backwards, thus making it a harder sell.
Identify Your Solution
So how are you going to fix the problem? Now is your chance to shine and reveal why your business is worth everyone else’s time (and money!). Here’s the trick though; make that solution quick, clear, and easy to describe. Use just a few sentences (or bullet points if it is a presentation). Avoid the overly technical explanations. If the “how” of your solution involves something more advanced, try using analogies or simple explanations to keep your audience engaged. For example, instead of trying to explain the algorithms built into an artificial intelligence platform, simplify the explanation with a remark such as, “Our A.I. uses your past behavior to make suggestions. It’s like a time machine for your decisions.”
Know Your Demographic
Who would be interested in your product? Know who your audience is, what age, gender, and industry. And even though it is tempting to identify the largest market there is, it dilutes your credibility. Go for something that’s manageable and makes sense. For example, if the problem you’ve identified is about gloves, don’t just identify “everyone who wears gloves” as your target market. Narrow it down to who is wearing that glove and why; maybe your demo is doctors and nurses who wear rubber blue safety gloves. Perhaps it is golfers who wear golfing gloves or professional drivers. Then do your market research to identify how big that market size is. Your elevator pitch should identify who is in the target demographic, the size of the demographic, and their spending habits.
Know Your Competition
You might think your idea is so unique that you don’t have any competition – but this is unlikely. Don’t forget that competition can come in many forms. The solution to the same problem you present may be offered by another method altogether. Just because the first automobile was invented doesn’t mean there weren’t alternative solutions to compete with. There were plenty – for example, horses, bicycles, and trains all offered some type of solution to getting from point A to point B. So what does your solution offer that no one else's does? Why would an investor or a consumer choose your product? Understand the weak points of your competition to make sure your product is presented as the superior solution. In the example above, one might mention that the automobile is faster than a horse, safer than a bicycle, and more convenient than a train.
Know Your Team
Who is working with you? Who is helping you make your vision a reality? Investors need to know this. Someone with a specific skill set that can help set you apart is great to have on your team – but other people need to know this so they can trust you and your idea with even more credibility. Showcasing an experienced collaborator is a valuable trust symbol.
Know Your Needs
So what does your business model say you need financially? How much will everything cost? And how much will you need to make to break even and make a profit? Investors will need to know this and if you touch upon it in your elevator pitch, you’ll address some of their most pressing questions right at the start, allowing them to focus on other issues. It also shows you’ve prepared a diligent financial model.
Put all those steps together and you will be looking at a pretty solid elevator pitch. Remember – keep it simple and smooth. Practice it, rehearse it, and know it by heart before you deliver it. And good luck!
Originally published in Kivo Daily on July 2, 2018