Blog Posts

Elevator Pitch: Getting your brand messaging off the ground.

The hardest question I ever got on a job interview was: "Tell me about yourself."

Where to start? What to include? What does that even mean? And okay I got the job. But let my awkward, halting, desperate stab at coherence be a teachable moment for any company trying to express its brand identity.

What I needed – and what everyone in your company needs – is an "elevator pitch.” Think of it as a 30-second TV spot for your brand; without props, graphics or slo-mo shots of hard-working Americans turning their gaze to the camera. It's just you and your audience (potential customers or clients) and words in an elevator or on a buffet line. And like a TV commercial, remember that your message is an imposition on your audience.

So how do you make those words engaging and memorable, so their first impression of you isn't their last? Tell a story.

Good marketing isn’t facts: “Nike designs the best athletic footwear!” It’s a story that leaves room for the audience to be part of: “Just do it.” Your story is full of possibilities that can become real IF... they hire you, partner with you or buy your widgets.

Your company’s story has to be based on facts, which you’ll glean through a brand discovery process. At the end, you’ll distill your insights into something concrete: messaging that rings true and serves as a brand touchstone. From then on, if anyone in your company gets a request to “Tell me about your company,” they’ll all have the same answer.

If you’re actively targeting a prospect, get to know them so you can craft your elevator pitch to your audience. (The way a film studio targets TV spots for the same movie for kids and parents.)

Okay, here we are. I’m your prospective client and you happen to run into me at a conference mixer. Ready. Go!
1. Hi Toby, I’m Your Name from Your Company.
2. You depend on A and we're the leaders in something related to A.
3. We just completed job B for company C and it created success D.
4. I know that a company with our E could achieve result F for your company.
5. Can I G so we can H?

Look, JLo's skeleton isn't pretty either. So let's flesh out this very general template.
1. Introduce yourself. Don’t assault me. Chat about the hors d'oeuvres or something. Then segue into…

2. Talking about me, your prospect! You’ve done your homework. Of course I’m paying attention. You're not just some whack job with a Swedish meat ball. You could give me a unique and useful advantage as a potential partner.

3. And you're not bragging, you're backing it up with results.

4. And you're confident that your core assets could benefit me.

5. So you're suggesting a way to connect with me so we can explore opportunities.

Hey, I’m glad I met you. You told me a success story not just about yourself – but about us. So, sure, I’ll take your phone call or email when I get back in the office so we can talk more about it.

Next time someone asks you (or your colleagues) to tell them about company, be ready with an elevator pitch. It starts with a thorough knowledge of your brand, it tells an engaging story of how your brand can benefit the audience, and it ends, hopefully, with a prospect turning into a connection. And that’s not bad for 30 seconds of talking. Go get ‘em!

Toby Muller