What’s an elevator pitch – and why do you need one? Toronto Business and Technology Lawyer Sukhi Hansra explains how a well-crafted elevator pitch prepares you for new business opportunities that may come your way.
If you found yourself in an elevator next to a venture capitalist who could invest in your business, would you be able to sell them your idea in 30 seconds – or less? Many entrepreneurs possess great business ideas but sometimes lack the quick thinking and persuasive skills to sell them quickly.
A young entrepreneur I know – x2 founder, working on his 3rd – happened to be shopping on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile when he literally bumped into entrepreneur and business investor Marcus Lemonis. After telling Marcus he was an admirer and inspiration, Marcus asked, What do you do? And then a tounge-tied, long- winded response set in. Hours (and days, weeks and months) later, this entrepreneur was going over and over what he SHOULD have said to interest Marcus in his new business.
As the Roman philosopher senator Seneca once said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Unless you’re at a pitch meeting, it’s unlikely anyone has the time or interest to delve into a profound and time-consuming discussion about your business idea. Crafting and delivering the perfect elevator pitch is the most effective way to introduce your idea in a short amount of time.
Let’s take a look at what makes a compelling elevator pitch and when you should use it.
What Is An Elevator Pitch?
Elevator pitch takes its name from the average length of time it takes to ride an elevator with someone while they are captive and can’t make a getaway. An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that introduces you and your company in a manner that grabs attention and sparks curiosity. Typically no longer than a minute, its primary aim is not to sell but rather pique the listener’s interest to pursue a longer conversation later. Most business elevator pitches define a problem and provide a unique selling point that offers a solution.
“Do you hate doing the laundry? I’m Anna from Lux Laundry. We’re a pick-up laundry service that will get your laundry done within 48 hours. All you need to do is login into our app, and we’ll collect your laundry within 24 hours. With us, you’ll never have to iron a shirt again.”
What Is A Unique Selling Point (USP)?
Coined by American television advertising pioneer Rosser Reeves, a USP (Unique Selling Point) is a marketing strategy that informs customers about how a brand or product is superior to and different from its competitors.
It refers to unique benefits that a company, service, product or brand has that make it stand out from competitors in a way that is meaningful to consumers. According to marketing best practices, a USP must do three things:
- It must clarify it for the consumer that they are buying a product or service to achieve a specific result.
- A USP’s proposition offers what competitors can’t or don’t.
- The offer must be strong enough to compel customers to buy the product or service.
What’s The Best Way to Prepare An Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch should be succinct and clear in articulating what your business or product is, as well as its USP. Keep these three things in mind when formulating yours:
- Determine an objective:
Engaging with investors vs peers you’ve just met at a trade show requires a slightly different approach. If you’re speaking to funders, you’ll want to focus directly on mutual benefits. However, an elevator pitch used as a general introduction will be more relaxed.
- Know your USP:
Chances that your business is one-of-a-kind are slim, so be sure to know your competition and how you stand out from them. Your elevator pitch should focus on the unique aspects of your business.
There’s nothing worse than fluffing an elevator pitch that should just roll off the tongue. Sometimes delivering a pitch confidently requires a bit of practice.
When Should I Use An Elevator Pitch?
Professional Networking Events
Networking is the backbone of businesses. An elevator pitch is an ideal way to introduce yourself at professional events. It lets everyone know who you are and what you’re about from the get go. It’s also a good idea to have business cards (or at least a digital business card) on hand to give to people after you’ve introduced yourself and your business.
A Chance Networking Opportunity
You never know who you might meet, whether its at a co-working space or a local coffee shop. Unlike professional networking events where there’s an obvious agenda, you can’t plan chance encounters. Naturally, it won’t be formal, which is why practising your elevator pitch is vital.
Pitching to Investors
The first episode of Start Up, a podcast show about entrepreneurial life produced by Gimlet Media, tells the story of how the founder only had 3 minutes to pitch his business idea to a billionaire and failed. The caveat is investors have limited time, yet they are always looking for new ideas. The challenge lies in delivering an elevator pitch that interests them and makes them want to find out more.
Securing Business Partners
Selling a business idea or product isn’t only relegated to investors and customers. You might be looking for a business partner or need to pull a few favours to get things off the ground. In this case, having a compelling elevator pitch is important, especially if you’re reaching out cold.
Business Websites and LinkedIn Profiles
Given their name, we tend to assume elevator pitches need to be used in person, yet much business and investment research is done online. Having digital variations of your elevator pitch in your LinkedIn profile, social media about pages and even preliminary website mock-ups can boost online visibility and generate interest in your USP.
Successfully delivering an elevator pitch to the right person can change the course of your business. That means knowing how to read the room and pitch accordingly. Creating a pitch takes time and it will undergo different iterations as your business grows. It’s best practice for entrepreneurs to have an elevator pitch so you’re always prepared for new business opportunities that may come your way.
Toronto Business Lawyer
What’s your elevator pitch? I recently spent time perfecting my USP – why I’m the right Business and Technology Lawyer to help you launch and grow your business. Crafting an elevator pitch takes time and practise – it’s an investment in the success of your business. To schedule a FREE phone call to discuss how we can help launch and grow your business, contact Sukhi Hansra at (416) 580-0345.