Crafting an elevator pitch is critical for your startup and not only for the obvious reasons that might instinctively come to mind.
If you read one or two ‘how to’ business articles in your lifetime, you know that a good elevator pitch is important to make a great quick impression on a random potential customer or to grab the attention of a busy investor – that is all solid advice. Here’s the spin though – A great elevator pitch can also be the best way to test your new initiative or tighten your product’s story for marketing success.
By seeing how someone reacts to your elevator pitch you can tell if your idea is phrased well enough, if your product provides real value and if someone would pay for it. Taking it even one step further, you can A / B test your product before you write even one line of code. You can test every idea you have in a matter of five days.
This process has to five main parts and several points to complete:
Step by step – Perfect your pitch in 5 days
Day 1:Write your product description
For the first day I’m going to take a play out of Neil Patel’s Definitive Guide to Copywriting playbook.
To be able to craft the perfect elevator pitch you will need to understand the product you’re pitching from every possible angle. For that, you’re going to need to be able to answer 4 important questions about your product:
1. How would you describe your product?
This shouldn’t be a long piece of art but a short paragraph describing in very simple English what exactly it is that your product does. Don’t worry about writing a beautiful and inspirational answer; write a short, coherent and to-the-point answer.
To make sure you stick to only describing your product and not charging your answer with all kinds of motivator words, just read it over again and delete all superlatives. You should also try and keep adjectives to a minimum.
2. What’s unique / special about the product?
Answer this simple question – what does your product do differently than your competitor’s. The more crowded your industry is the more subtle but meaningful your Unique Selling Proposition must be.
Sometimes your product will be unique in essence and sometimes it will just have some basic advantages over other products, but you need to pinpoint the differentiators. Sometimes it will be a single feature, a careful attention to detail or just a cleaner, more functional design. Each one can be as important as the next feature. Make sure you focus on what makes you stand out.
To answer this question you’ll be forced to conduct a competitor analysis and get to know your competitors a little better. If you haven’t done that already, this is a great opportunity to dive straight into the water. If you don’t really get your competitor you won’t be able to really validate your uniqueness.
For this question you don’t need to describe your product all over again, but only describe what makes it different. What advantages you feel you have over your competitors or simply how you approach the subject differently. Remember, you don’t always need to be better; sometimes just being different is better.
3. What’s the biggest benefit it provides?
The first mistake a lot of business owners make is not differentiating between what their product does and what benefits it provides. Your product’s features aren’t its benefit. The benefits your product provides is the value your customers receive from it.
Lets take a service like IFTTT.COM. What it does is that it allows you to build recipes and automate different work flows or certain actions you want to be done automatically. For example, every photo you take on your iPhone will be automatically saved on your dropbox, or any photo you like on Instagram will be saved to your iPhone, etc. Those are the features – the benefit for me is that I won’t have to worry about missing or not backing up the photos I love. It frees my time of actually doing “save as” or even thinking about it. It lets me have a productive day, hence, frees my time to do more of the things I love.
Another example is an app like ‘Whatsapp’ . Its features include writing text messages, sending images and recently they added video and voice messages. Those are all features. Its benefits include helping people connect for free without having to depend on their carrier’s fee. You can connect with your friends and loved ones using your words, voice or imagery and enrich your long distance connection.
4. List of features.
You’ll notice how all three other steps are more subjective while this last fourth step is very technical. Creating a list of your product’s features is very important because it might have the key offering for your pitch. You’d want to have this list available to pick features and test their importance in your elevator pitch.
Very important to mention – the fact that a feature sells your product better on the elevator pitch doesn’t necessarily mean it will deliver that ‘Ah ha’ moment when actually using your product. But it doesn’t matter right now.
Sit down, and write your product’s list of features and a short description of each feature. No more than one line. Don’t describe how it works – but what it does.
Day 2: Craft 5 different elevator pitches.
Good morning! I hope you slept well, because on the second day of the process you’ll be putting your creative juices io work.
On the second day of the process you’ll need to come up with the first batch of elevator pitches you’ll want to test – five to be exact.
Why five? It’s a big enough number to force you to go through a creative process and put the effort in, but a small enough amount of pitches that will make you have to focus and be very selective for the pitches that you’ll use for the next steps.
How do you craft these five pitches? You have to make sure these four things happen:
1. Tell what your product does – You have to be focused on this idea. The description of what your product does has to include your main attractions – if it’s the general idea of your product, the feature you believe in the most or to simply put your potential client in the right mind frame.
2. Be memorable – Being memorable is not always about shocking your listener or even doing something that has never been done before. Being memorable can be the angle you pitch the story, the niche you’re concentrating on, your choice of words or even the way you structure your phrase.
I can promise that the simpler, more cohesive and descriptive your pitch will be, the more you’ll be remembered. Being too general will make you forgettable.
3. Distinctive but familiar – When introducing a new idea, innovative as it may be, you need to find a hook people can relate to. Something that seems familiar enough for people to easily understand but still has your own unique twist.
‘Wordpress for social ecommerce’ or ‘Instagram for recipes’, etc. Make sure you don’t overuse buzzwords or overdone cliches, but by giving your listener something they know with an easy to understand twist they will get it faster and will make it easier for them to explain to others.
4. Lose jargon – Albert Einstein once said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” Using jargon in your pitch will just turn off people from your idea. It doesn’t matter you’re pitching people from your industry or a complete stranger to your field. Make sure they both understand your idea as easily.
Jargon doesn’t show people you’re smart or ‘an expert’, it just drives them away. Make sure you attract people with your pitch, get them interested in your idea, not baffled or feeling stupid. Simple is always better than complex.
Day 3: Get ready to test
Armed with five elevator pitches to test, you’ll need a set of simple tools. You’ll need something to record your pitching with and of course a place to write down your findings.
1. Choose an audio recording app for your smartphone of choice (Great list for iPhone apps and another for Android apps),
2. A clock app – your clock app on the iPhone or Android should be enough.
3. Grab a pen and paper or any type of note taking app like Evernote or the Google Keep.
Record – When we pitch someone an idea we’re not always fully aware of the language we use, the way we express ideas, etc. Recording yourself while pitching different people will keep you honest when trying to check what’s working and what’s not on your pitch.
You can always come back to your recordings and understand the process your listener was going through, see what phrase caught your listener’s attention and finally got him to understand the idea your pitching.
Stopper – Elevator pitchess are called that way because it means you have to successfully pitch your idea in the time it takes to complete an elevator ride. This means you usually get just around 10-12 seconds at best.
When you go back and improve your pitch by listening to your recordings, check how long it took your listener to get your pitch. If it takes over 12 seconds, redo it. Always make sure you clock right under 14 seconds from the moment you opened your mouth and the moment your listener has the ‘Ah-ha’ moment and gets your idea.
Write down results – Some ideas will work better than others, some phrasings will resonate you more than others, etc. Write down in bullet points your small wins and collect them into your under 12 seconds perfect pitch.
Day 4: Ask random people / Target audience
Most entrepreneurs believe that their idea should only resonate with their target audience. That’s only partially right. Yes, you should always keep your target audience in mind, but in order to get to the masses you have to make sure your pitch is understandable to all people.
Do your pitch testing with both audiences – your target audience and random people.
Target audience – Contact your target audience through your current relevant contacts. Your Twitter followers, Facebook friends or LinkedIn connections or Meetup group. Ask them to jump on a quick Skype call and pitch them your idea.
Random people – This is the fun part. Ask people in your local cafe shop, ask your friends that are not related to your field of expertise or just try to make small talk on public transportation.
If your pitch works, both groups will get your idea. If not, go to the next step.
Day 5: Analyze results and improve
Unless you hit perfect pitches on first attempts (you probably won’t; this is how it works), you’ll need to go back to your recordings and see what worked and what didn’t. Sometimes, you’ll even have to go back to your drawing board and start all over again.
Go back, review all your materials and see what worked, what needs to be tweaked and redo it.
Repeat this process until you get the perfect pitch. Until you get your listener to experience the ‘Ah-ha’ moment in under 12 seconds. You’ll get extra points if you get them excited about your idea.
Pitching your idea perfectly is one of the key points to get fans and grow your initiative without spending a dime. It can let you test ideas, get people aligned with your enthusiasm from the start point and eventually help you spread your passion around.
Don’t forget – write, tight, test, analyze, revise and perfect.
Go ahead – test your elevator pitch in the comments, and don’t forget to add a link!