Break through the ceiling with a killer elevator pitch

Business Networking Strategies – the Elevator Pitch

marketing your small business in an elevator 2For a lot of people, when they start a new business, they take a training course. It might be in an area relevant to their industry or profession, it might be a general training course, like our small business StartUp course, or it might be training in particular software, like our MYOB or Xero training courses. The best way to practice an elevator pitch is to practice all the time.

Training is incredibly important, but it’s no substitute for real-life interaction with other business owners, with whom you can gain valuable insights and perspectives on owning and operating a new business in the real world. This is what makes attending regular networking groups and events an important undertaking for any small business owner – old or new.

I recently wrote a blog post on what you should do at a networking event, but there was one point that we didn’t cover in great detail because I felt that it required a blog post of its own, as it’s crucial to your success as a networker: the elevator pitch.

Honing your elevator pitch

Perhaps you’ve heard of the term elevator pitch before. It’s most often used to describe a business or organisation’s mission statement; the name reflects the idea that you should be able to explain what your business does in the time it takes to ride an elevator. When you write a business plan, in it you need to include an executive summary, which explains what your business does or will do; it’s also your elevator pitch.

But your elevator pitch needs to do more than just explain what your business does. It also needs to encourage people to want to do business with you – or at least, continue listening to what you have to say. If you’ve completed our small business marketing course, then you’d have already practiced writing and honing an elevator pitch for your business when you wrote the executive summary of your business plan.

Be interesting, but above all, be compelling

Remember the goal of a business plan is to entice someone to invest in your business or idea, but the plan itself can run for many pages, detailing strategies and tactics for ensuring your business’s overall success. Most banks and financiers don’t have time to read every single business plan that lands on their desk, so they turn to the executive summary to see if the venture seems like a good fit for them.

It goes without saying, then, that your executive summary needs to be compelling, as does your elevator pitch. If you’ve written a business plan for your business, this is a good place to start when developing the elevator pitch you plan to use at a networking group or event. Be personable, though, and keep it conversational. Remember that the person on the receiving end of your elevator pitch is unlikely to be reading it; they’re listening to you deliver it instead, so you need to be comfortable giving your elevator pitch, while also seeming authentic.

Key elements of an elevator pitch

In crafting your elevator pitch, it’s crucial to include the following key elements:

  • Hook people with a good opening line that makes them want to hear more
  • Tell people what you do, not what you are
  • Repeat key information, such as your business name or main product or service
  • Be interesting and authentic
  • Use plain language when you’re describing a problem your product or service solves
  • Think about your end goal and ensure your elevator pitch services to achieve it
  • Finish your pitch by asking the other person what they do.

You should know have a good understanding of what to do at a networking event or group; now it’s just time to find a group to try out your new skills. Try meet-up.com or your local chamber of commerce to find groups near you. Make sure to RSVP if you are going to attend, and then stick to it. If something comes up, let the organiser know, so they don’t hold the meeting up waiting for you.

For more information on how to use networking groups to your advantage, including information on referral marketing, continue reading our blog.

What Is It That Your Business Does Again? The Need To Be CLEAR!

If people are left confused as to what your business does, they'll simply go elsewhere.
If people are left confused as to what your business does, they’ll simply go elsewhere.

In our Small Business Management course, we discuss creating a website for your business — and at EzyLean, we even offer a training course on creating a website using WordPress. We’ve also talked about some of the website “must haves” on this very blog, but one of the things many business owners still get wrong is communicating what exactly their business does.

What Does Your Business Actually Do?

Being able to explain your business in one sentence or less should be like second nature to any business owner, yet I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on a business’s website and found myself wondering, “What the hell does this business actually do?”

It seems that somewhere, in the midst of worry about design, functionality, load times, conversion rates, and so on, many business owners — large and small; this affliction is not discerning — forget to answer the most basic of questions and often the fundamental reason a person is on their website: What does my business do?

Take a look at your website. Does it clearly state in one sentence or less what your business does? If we use EzyLearn as an example, we could say, EzyLearn is an online training provider. We could even take it one step further and say, EzyLearn is Australia’s largest provider of online training courses, including MYOB, WordPress and Excel.

Both examples are clear, concise and, above all, they entice visitors to spend time on our website. This is important, because if you leave visitors wondering what your business does and whether you offer the services they’re looking for, they’ll give up and go elsewhere.

Your Business Plan’s Executive Summary

This is where the executive summary of your business plan comes into play. The executive summary of your business plan is used to explain what your proposed business will do; in no more than a paragraph you need to be able to convince the reader that your business idea is worthy of their funding, participation or whatever it is you’re seeking of them.

In essence, your executive summary is your elevator pitch. You need to refine this and whittle it down to a short, pithy explanation of your business and your services. Practice on friends and family if you have to and once you’ve got it, put it straight onto your homepage, or an easy-to-access “About Us” page.

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And remember: the thing about the Internet is that it’s great if you know what you’re looking for; but the majority of people don’t. Always craft your copy like you’re communicating with someone who doesn’t know the first thing about your business or the industry, then go from there.