Small Business Advice: Mastering The Elevator Pitch

July 24, 2012

Discover why a good elevator pitch is key to running a successful small business. 


This blog is devoted to answering one question: Why is developing an elevator pitch an essential part of operating a business small?

Used by business owners and marketers the world over, the elevator pitch is a method of procuring business through chance encounters. Yet, while so many prosper from a strong and well-thought out elevator pitch, others seem unaware of its potential.

Today, I’m going to offer up some very important small business advice as we look at what makes an elevator pitch so valuable.



What Is the Elevator Pitch?

The elevator pitch is a short and snappy description of what your business does that can be offered to anyone in the time it takes to travel between floors in an elevator. An elevator pitch must tell your audience what your business is and what it does, all while being carefully thought out and succinct.



Want My Small Business Advice? Always Have an Elevator Pitch Prepared

But why?

The elevator pitch is essentially a marketing tool. It’s not going to go on your website, nor is it going to be how you introduce your business at conferences, but it still an important tool for anyone running a small business nonetheless.

Small businesses tend to deal with other small businesses or individuals, which makes it likely that you’ll be dealing with lots of different clients. In this circumstance, opportunities to procure new customers can appear at any moment. When you deal with individuals, anyone could be a potential client.

These opportunities that you happen to come across — meeting somebody at a party, the intermission of a play, in an hotel elevator — are invaluable ways of securing interest in your small business. However, people involved in these random encounters aren’t likely to be interested in hearing your full marketing pitch. They’ve got places to go, people to see.

If you want them to hear about your business, you have to tell them quickly; enter the elevator pitch.



How To Prepare Your Elevator Pitch

So, somebody asks what your small business does. You’ve got 15 seconds to tell them, what do you say?  

You may be tempted to say something a bit clever and complex to make your business sound intricate and advanced, but don’t.

I am a chartered accountant who works with small businesses, plain and simple. However, if I wanted and jazz things up to make myself sound more impressive I could say:

‘I help people increase their profits and save them tax… so that they can buy big boats.’


‘I enrich people’s business experiences by providing a first class service of tracking and recording, ultimately increasing the amount of money in my client’s pocket.’

But here’s a small business tip for you: This is a bad idea. While statements like these may invite more questions and engage the person I am speaking with, they also lead to an awkward question:

‘Oh I see, so you’re an accountant?’

Now I’ve been caught out. I look like somebody who is trying too hard to make themselves sound impressive and may have just lost my opportunity to bring on a new customer. People aren’t stupid, they aren’t going to be fooled by dazzling wordplay.

Instead of faffing around, your elevator pitch has to be direct and to the point. Tell people who you are and what you do. Let them know exactly what you are about, even if it doesn’t invite the excitement and intrigue of a more fanciful description.

Here’s an example of a pitch I may actually give someone:

‘I run an accountancy firm that specialises in supporting small businesses’

It’s short, it’s simple, it’s kinda boring, but it’s effective. The prospective client now knows what I do, and if they want my accounting services they can ask more questions. By complicating things you not only set yourself up for a fall, but you also overly specify what your business does which may edge out customers you could quite easily work with. What if this potential customer didn’t want to save on tax and buy a big boat, rather they needed their books managed?

So, next time you are preparing your elevator pitch, try giving the stripped down version a go.



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