Where did the elevator pitch lose its way? There is nothing wrong with the term as it started – you need to be able to explain simply, briefly and meaningfully what you or your organization stands for, what you do and what value you bring. However, over time, in many circles the concept has mutated and absorbed a lot of bad connotations.
To fuel the urgency to master the pitch, there is a commonly presented hypothetical situation. You will unexpectedly encounter a prominent businessperson/philanthropist/venture capitalist and you will have 30 seconds to close a million dollar deal/donation/investment – your ability to deliver your elevator pitch will be the deciding factor, so be ready. Sure, this is possible – just not likely. Adopting this shortsighted approach devolves the elevator pitch from a conversation starter designed to generate interest into a quick sale approach. I wager you will turn off most of your audience if walking away with a commitment in a minute was your intention.
When you hear Erica Mills from Claxon Marketing talk about the elevator pitch, in this enlightening video clip by 501 Videos, she has it right. Start a discussion on something you care about and believe is of genuine value to someone else – that lens really changes the resulting approach and content, doesn’t it?
Using the AIDA marketing/sales framework (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action), if you try to move your audience through all four steps in a couple of minutes, none will get done well. Instead, focus your efforts on doing the first two steps really well – get your audience excited about you or your organization and start the dialogue, then build from there. Starting a dialogue first will help you get a better understanding of how you can generate desire without assuming you know the other party’s motivations. If you do this right, action is sure to follow in due time.
So join me in ditching the pitch as a quick deal-closer – and start conversations with it instead.
Constant Questions: What are your thoughts on the elevator pitch concept? How have you crafted your message to make it effective in getting attention and generating interest? What’s the longest elevator ride you’ve been on? Do you get motion sickness on elevators? Is there an escalator pitch?