The Elevator Pitch
How to Tell People What You Do: Quickly, Simply, Compellingly
By Lois K. Geller
It all started at an ARM luncheon a while back. ARM is the association for Alternative Response Media, the folks who sell space in card decks, fulfillment packages, etc. I was there because they were honoring my friend Joel Katz from Leon Henry Inc.
I sat at a table where I didn't know a soul. I introduced myself. "I'm Lois Geller, president of Mason & Geller." Since they might not have heard the name, I added, "a full service direct marketing agency."
I noticed their eyes glazing over, so I continued. "We help our clients get new customers and keep the customers they already have." More glaze. Then it was the next person's turn and I'd missed an opportunity. It was no consolation that nobody else at the table did any better.
How Do You Explain What You Do in a Heartbeat?
At the ARM luncheon, I'd told everyone who I am and what I do, but they didn't seem to find it interesting. And it wasn't. It was just a flat statement of fact, sort of like, "I'm a dentist, I help people keep their teeth in good shape." Later, back in our building's lobby, I started thinking about how I could best describe in an interesting way what I do … really, what our company does … in the time it takes the elevator to get from the lobby to our office on the 18th floor. The legendary elevator pitch.
The objective is simple. Tell people what your company does in about a minute, and have them nod their heads to show they understand and find it interesting. I often give speeches, and I've learned to recognize when people understand what I'm saying: I've clearly been missing the boat in the elevator pitch department.