What do you do?

It is a question that we’re asked on a regular basis.

So what’s your answer?

Is it clear and concise?

Do people ask questions to learn more?

Everyone needs a good answer to “What do you do?”

elevator pitch

You need a crystal one or sentence response – otherwise known as an elevator pitch.

A good elevator makes it easy to connect, marketing and sell.

A good elevator pitch sets the stage for longer conversations.

On the other hand, a bad elevator is conversation-killer.

It quickly causes people to lose interest in your and what you do.

So it goes without saying that everyone needs a good elevator pitch.

So what the keys to creating a good elevator pitch?

First, it needs to pass the “stranger test”.

When you tell your elevator pitch to someone who doesn’t know you, they need to immediately understand what you do.

If they don’t get it right away, you have a problem because they probably won’t give you the benefit of the doubt.

If they don’t get a good first impression, there may not be an opportunity to make a second impression.

Rule #1: an elevator pitch has to be clear and easily understandable.

Second, an elevator pitch has to stupid simple.

Don’t fool around with analogies, acronyms or industry vernacular.

Get to the point and do it quickly.

Tell people what you do, the customers served, and the key benefits.

It’s a three-part “play” that should easily flow.

For example, my elevator pitch is:

“I help fast-growing companies grow even faster by creating marketing that actually works. My areas of expertise in messaging and branding, strategic planning, content development harness the power of storytelling.”

It works because people quickly learn who I serve (fast-growing companies), what I do (“create marketing”), the key benefits (marketing that “actually works”) and the key services delivered.

As important, it sets up the next question: “So, how do you do that?” or “Tell me more”.

For my business, a bad elevator pitch might be something like:

“I offer strategic and tactical marketing services”.

For dramatic purposes, this elevator pitch is boring and bland.

Even worse it wouldn’t inspire a lot of confidence in my marketing services, would it?

Tip #2: Be creative and think about an elevator pitch as a door opener. Make a bold or audacious statement – as long as you’re prepared to back it up

Third, an elevator pitch has to be short and sweet.

It needs to be delivered as the proverbial elevator goes up or down.

You have to deliver a lot of information in a short amount of time – maybe 30 to 60 seconds.

To be succinct AND deliver a rock-solid answer to “What do you do?” an elevator pitch needs to be tight and concise.

Every word needs to be carefully selected, scrutinized and tested.

If two words can be shrunk to one word, do it!

If a long word can be replaced by a short word, do it!

Eliminate superfluous words such as “that” and “really”

You only have so much real estate so treasure every letter and word!

Fourth, test your elevator pitch repeatedly.

Truth be told, elevator pitches are fluid. They change as your business, customers or competitive landscape changes.

After developing an elevator pitch, bounce it off a variety of people to see if it works.

I’m talking about friends, colleagues, employees, advisors, investors, partners, prospects, the media, analysts and strangers.

You’re looking for signs of success: follow-up questions to learn more or statements such as “That’s interesting” or “How did you get started?”

It’s back to the drawing board if people ask you to simplify your elevator pitch or they look for clarity. It means you missed the mark.

Five, tweak or optimize your elevator pitch.

As I mentioned earlier, an elevator pitch is a living and breathing creature.

While a good elevator pitch can last for a long time, it will need to be refreshed or overhauled at some point.

Maybe your products or service changes.

Maybe customers start looking for different things or your customers change.

Maybe your elevator pitch becomes stale or pales in comparison to competitors.

Whatever the reason, it needs to be revisited from time to time.

You need to see if it is still effective by playing around with different versions.

Maybe a fresh coat of paint makes an elevator pitch shiny and new again.

Bottom line: Elevator pitches are important for every business. They help you stand out from the crowd and connect with customers.

Invest the time to develop a good elevator pitch, and then keep it as good as possible.

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More: In Forbes, Jules Schroder looks at how “new” elevator pitches need to include “why”.

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