mastering the elevator pitch
Step 1: Pretend you’re in the room with a group of networking peers, including us.
Step 2: Start the timer on your smartphone.
Step 3: Tell us about your company—in 15 seconds.
Ding! Time’s up. Bet you didn’t get past the name of your business, your position and one or two services, right? No worries, we’ve been in the same situation many times. Short and sweet is one of the toughest goals to attain in both writing and in speaking. However, in a soundbite laden, 140-character world, concision (yes that’s a real word) is paramount. Whether it’s through a tweet or a quick exchange at a networking event, if you can’t pitch what you’re selling succinctly, you may miss out on potential opportunities.
Which, is why we’re so fond of the message map, a valuable tool for many types of communication, and used by top writers such as Forbes magazine’s Carmine Gallo.
Start by asking yourself, “What is the single most important thing I want my listener to know about my [product, service, brand, idea].” Then, draw a circle at the top of the message and give it a headline. Think Twitter length, no more than 140 characters.
The human mind is powerful, but generally speaking, short-term memory maxes out when it has to process more than 3 pieces of information: Outline the top three benefits of your offering. Draw three arrows from the headline to each of the key supporting messages, then add bullet points to each of the three supporting messages. You don’t have to write out the entire story. Instead, write a few words that will prompt you to deliver the story. Your message map must fit on one page.
Here’s how we’d make a 15-second pitch for The Whole Enchilada PR…
Twitter-friendly headline: The Whole Enchilada PR is the dedicated culinary division of the warden ettinger group.
3 supporting messages:
food & drink promotion, strategic PR/social media
and restaurant/new product launches
The 15-second pitch (made from steps one and two above) would sound like this:
The Whole Enchilada PR is the dedicated culinary division of the warden ettinger group. Our focus is food and drink promotion which we achieve through strategic public relations social media campaigns, and our specialty is restaurant/new product launches.
…If you make it past the 15-second pitch, you’ll be prepared to elaborate on your pitch with the information you prepared in step three. Test it out on your peers, then if you’re satisfied with the message map you create, distribute it to your employees to use in customer, media and investor presentations.