As a small business owner, there are opportunities waiting for you every day.
How you handle them means the difference between new business and lost business. As a marketer, the most common (and avoidable) mistake I see over and over is the inability to quickly and effectively communicate what a company does.
In fact, I saw it just this morning.
A man and woman waiting in line at Starbucks shared small talk and a smile until she asked “What do you do?” His off the cuff explanation was less than impressive and that opportunity, like the woman and her latte, went right out the door. Had he been prepared with a 30 second pitch, that conversation in Starbucks could have forged a new business relationship. Easily.
The 30 second pitch is an essential marketing tool. Also known as “the elevator pitch,” the idea is to explain who you are and what you do in the short amount of time it takes to ride an elevator from the ground floor to the top floor.
The way we do business today has evolved so while you may never actually use your 30 second pitch in the proverbial “elevator”, there are plenty of places where you will use it; both expected and unexpected places. Every person you meet is a potential client. Whether you’re at a tradeshow, getting a latte or at your daughter’s soccer game, a business opportunity can present itself anywhere. Be prepared with your 30 second pitch.
The Key Components
The core elements of your 30 second pitch are simple:
- The “Who”. The name of your company. Just the name. Not the tagline. Taglines have their place and it’s not in your 30 second pitch.
- The “What”. What products or services does you company provide? Keep focused. You cannot be all things to all people.
- The “What’s in it for me?” or your USP (unique selling proposition). What sets you apart from your competition? For example: Can you help me make more money? Do you sell a product I need for less cost? Do you solve a specific problem? Describe yourself in terms of the benefits you provide “me”, your prospective client.
Crafting Your Pitch
Thirty seconds of speaking translates into about 125-150 words. You may be tempted to go over that. Don’t. Research proves that people can form a lasting impression in as little as three seconds, and the average attention span starts to wane after 15-20 seconds. Basically, if you haven’t made your point in 30 seconds (or less) your audience has lost interest and you’ve missed your opportunity.
Craft your pitch by writing down what you want to say and refining it until it answers the questions above. If you remember nothing else, remember this… focusing on the “What’s in it for me” is the difference between making a personal connection with your prospect and boring them to tears. Do not write only about you, your products or services. Always make it applicable to your prospects. Speak in terms of why they need YOU over anyone else.
Do not use buzzwords or industry jargon. As tempting as it may be to throw in a few catchphrases, avoid them. Don’t “help anyone help themselves”, allow them to “leverage” anything or offer a “turnkey solution”. And don’t make them think too hard. Be succinct and sincere about your products and services.
Delivering Your Pitch
Once written, don’t just memorize your pitch. An unnatural robotic delivery can sabotage even the best of 30 second pitches. You want it to come to you naturally and sound conversational.
Practice. Even the most seasoned salespeople benefit from practice. Say your 30 second pitch in front of the mirror, in front of your cat, at the breakfast table, on the phone with your mother, in front of the Fed-Ex guy or anyone else who will listen. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will be.
Continually improve. As you give your pitch to more and more prospects, you will hear different questions and reactions. Listen to the response and use that feedback to make your pitch stronger. Remember nothing is constant.
Be confident. Visual cues are just as important as the words you are saying. Remember even though your pitch is 30 seconds, people can form their opinion in as little as three seconds. Stand up tall, make eye contact. Your words and body language work together to make your 30 second pitch as effective as possible. When done successfully, you’ll know you made the most of every opportunity.