How to write an elevator pitch

So you own a business, but whenever someone asks you what you do… you draw a blank. Or worse… you say you’re “Self-employed” like that tells anyone what they need to know in order to buy from you.

The “elevator pitch” was obviously designed to give a clear idea of your product or service in the time it takes to ride in an elevator.

Now that elevator ride is about the length of someone’s attention span (or less).

Your goal when you learn how to write an elevator pitch, is to be able to clearly introduce the problem you solve for your ideal client and how you solve it. THEN, even if your neighbor or cousin of a friend of friend doesn’t need your service right now, they can recommend you when it comes up in conversation.

Another great option when you’re learning how to write an elevator pitch is Donald Miller’s book Marketing Made Simple (affiliate link). I’m including some of his tips in the next few steps.

Let’s Dive in!

Step 1: Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Ok, first things first: You really don’t have a UNIQUE selling proposition, and when you’re learning how to write an elevator pitch, it’s important for you to understand what’s truly unique about your product or service. You really can’t offer a solution that your competition isn’t also offering: someone else will always have better, faster, cheaper results.

So HOW ARE YOU DIFFERENT?

How you do things is different!

You get to make a framework, package, or program they can trust and understand.

The WAY you solve the problem is unique. People trust people with a plan.

Even if your plan isn’t an earth-shattering innovation, just having a plan (process, framework, program) gives them something to work with.

They can imagine working with you.

Having an outlined process differentiates you without making it a race to the bottom on pricing.

Step 2: Know Your Audience

Here are two audiences to consider when you’re learning how to write an elevator pitch:

  1. The random person who knows nothing about you
  2. Your ideal client

You have a new neighbor moving in next door, as you introduce yourself, you should tell them what you do and who you serve. You want them to remember who you are when they need your service or know someone who does. Defining the problem you solve is key here, so if they hear this same problem come up in conversation, they think, “I remember that guy told me this is the problem he solves.”

Maybe you’re at a networking event, and everyone in the room is your ideal client. Now you home in on that pain point and tell them exactly what they need to know to buy.

I’m a copywriter. Most people don’t know what that word even means, so with strangers, I say something like, “You know how websites have a lot of words on them? I write all the words. I learn what problems the buyers have and demonstrate that a product will solve those problems.”

With small business owners, I’ll say, “You know how you get stuck on a project because you don’t have time to sit down and write all the content? I can do that for you in less than a day.” Many times, business owners have started a website project, spent thousands of dollars, and almost didn’t get it completed because they don’t have time to write the copy.

Then, with other marketers or agencies, I’ll say, “I’m a copywriter focused on using Voice of Customer research to perfect a brand’s story and convert readers to buyers.”

Different elevator pitches for different audiences based on level of awareness.

Step 3: Craft a Memorable Opening

Similar to what I just said above: your opening will be based on your audience’s product awareness level.

But it’s important that you have an answer to the classic “So what do you do?” that doesn’t make people turn off their brains instantly.

If you have a local business, maybe start with “I own a business here in town!” which draws on your commonality.

For me, I try to be funny. Because I’m a writer and I’ve been told my whole life that I’ll be a starving artist (side note: people get very concerned when you’re an English major with a music minor. They really thought I lived in an artistic bubble). So I say, “I’m actually a writer, but don’t worry, not a novelist, I’m a marketing writer for small businesses.”

Sometimes people think marketing is just Instagram and Super Bowl ads. So then I follow it up with the elevator pitch.

When you’re thinking about how to write an elevator pitch, find a phrase that makes people listen, makes them laugh, requires a follow-up. but not an “Uhhh what?” follow-up, because no one wants to be confused. Avoid the word “consultant” unless you want someone to walk away.

Step 4: Communicate Your Value Clearly and Concisely

This is part of the USP. It’s time to define how you do things differently that makes you the best choice for the job.

“We have over 60 years of experience in town, so we’ve probably worked on your home before and know exactly the next step to take to fix your septic service”

“We make beautiful, memorable desserts that taste great and will be talked about for decades.”

or for me “I begin each project with the Brand Voice Guide so your company can start telling your brand story consistently across all platforms and make sales right away.”

This is one sentence. As a business owner, sometimes the things you think are important are not actually that important to your customer. So this is where it’s important to base your answer on some Voice of Customer research to make it useful.

side note… this is all included in my Brand Voice Guide 😬

Step 5: End with a Strong Call to Action (CTA)

This still completely depends on your audience, and maybe you’re not making a big sale here. Maybe you’re just making new friends floating on a boat somewhere. So here are a few CTA options:

  • “You can follow me online here:” and list your various social media platforms… make sure they’re active, educational, and/or entertaining
  • “I have this freebie if you join my email list, would you be interested in staying in touch?” Kind of hard to say no to that one…
  • “We offer free consultations and you can get on my calendar now” Obviously a hot audience reading to get started.

So do you know how to write an elevator pitch now?

Start by defining your USP, then your audience and their specific pain points. Next, you need to be memorable: short, sweet, a little funny, engaging. Then, communicate your value and give a call to action.

This may need some practice.

Imagine all the times you’ve been asked “So what do you do?” and you stared and stammered. List out the different scenarios (new neighbor, upcoming holiday parties, chamber of commerce meeting) and think of how your value directly relates to those particular people.

Start sharing it with the world!!

Need help with your elevator pitch?

I’ve included an elevator pitch as just one of the many elements in your Brand Voice Guide. Check it out and see if it works for you!

woman waiting for the elevator with a laptop and cup of coffee | how to write an elevator pitch

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