Once More with Feeling: The Impact of an Excellent Elevator Pitch

The other day, a colleague told me about his dream of joining the Metropolitan Police. Despite being fit, intelligent, and fascinated by criminology, he was worried that he wouldn’t make the cut because he speaks English as a second language. I told him, “You’re worried your English isn’t good enough for the Met. I have a TEFL qualification, so I can pull together some resources and we can meet once a week for coffee and to go through some exercises together. This will boost your confidence and help you to ace the Met interview.” His smile told me I had just delivered my best elevator pitch yet.

Why do I need an Elevator Pitch?

Elevator pitches are one of the oldest tricks in the marketing book. They might even seem a little bit antiquated. Especially now that a lot of us are working from home, which means the only people we’re likely to meet in the elevator are Mrs Smith and her Pomeranian from across the landing.

But this decades-old method is currently enjoying something of a renaissance, and I would argue that the rapid growth and development of digital marketing is in fact making elevator pitches more relevant than ever. These short, sharp pitches can cut through the noise on social media, websites, videos, advertising channels, and in inboxes. And they do this while clearly communicating the problems your company solves and, crucially, the feeling it creates for your clients.

I’ve seen far too many digital marketing efforts which fail to answer the simple question: what does your business do? An excellent elevator pitch will answer this while inspiring action from prospective collaborators and clients at an emotional level.

What is an Elevator Pitch?

Before we dive into how to craft this crucial marketing tool, it’s worth taking a moment to consider what an elevator pitch is. Especially as they probably won’t be used in physical elevators moving forward.

Speaking on The Genius Network Podcast, Summer Felix-Mulder of video strategy stalwarts The Draw Shop describes an elevator pitch as:

One statement that:
1) Defines the problem you solve
2) How you solve it
3) How it will make your customer’s life better

Summer goes on to say that the elevator pitch should follow ‘the perfect intro’. So, in the case of digital marketing, this introduction is the ad, email subject, or social media post which first caught a prospective client’s eye.. The first thing they should see on your homepage is therefore this pitch. But this isn’t the opportunity to get into details such as how long you’ve been in business or who owns the company. Rather, it’s the chance to clearly state the effect engaging your business will have on your client’s life.

Summer elaborates that a great elevator pitch solves an internal problem which the prospective client is experiencing. As opposed to comprehending an external problem, which is an objective statement of the situation, understanding an internal problem entails consideration of the emotional impact of the issue at hand.

To explore this distinction, let’s return to the example of my colleague who wants to improve his English to join the Met. His external problem is simply, “I need English lessons”. But his internal problem is, “I’m worried that my English isn’t good enough to let me succeed in an interview for my dream job”.

If I was addressing his external problem, I might tell him, “I’m an English tutor”. This is fine, but it doesn’t get to the heart of why he wants English lessons, and does nothing to differentiate me from the literally thousands of other tutors in London. So if I instead address his internal problem, I might say, “Don’t worry about your job interview in English! I’ll craft a bespoke programme focusing on interview technique and vocabulary you’re likely to use as a police officer. This means you’ll ace the interview and be working your dream job in no time!”.

In the latter statement, I’ve identified my colleague’s problem, offered a solution, and described the effect he’ll enjoy if he engages my services. Summer identifies these three stages: the ‘problem’, the ‘solution’, and the ‘transformation’: as the key components of an excellent elevator pitch.

How Can I Craft an Elevator Pitch?

Summer’s three stages give us a solid formula for an elevator pitch which is widely agreed upon. Elliot Loh, a mentor at 500 Startups, uses a very similar template:

We solve [problem] by providing [advantage] to help [target] accomplish [target’s goal].

So, if I was preparing a social media post or an email offering to help people in a similar situation as my colleague, I could use this elevator pitch:

Nervous about a job interview in English? Problem

I offer bespoke English lessons encompassing interview technique and vocabulary specific to the role you’re applying for.

These will help you Target
to feel confident and successfully interview for your dream job. Target’s Goal

What Else Should I Consider?

While this template will give you a solid elevator pitch to start with, Alejandro Cremandes, author of The Art of Startup Fundraising, warns that you should prepare more than one pitch. Writing in Forbes, he argues that different pitches should be written for different audiences, always placing the emphasis on the clients and their problems you can help with. To this end, while pitches should be kept about thirty seconds long, he also advises playing with the length and the delivery of these statements. So, you might want to try different pitches for emails, videos, and social posts to appeal to a wide range of prospective clients.

Crucially, Alejandro further recommends that pitches should be followed up by a question; something which keeps the discussion moving, and inspires the recipient to act. Digital marketing tools make this simple, as it’s easy to add a link to a blog or email, or to encourage comments below a social post.

Once More with Feeling

Vibrant videos, shareable social media posts, and arresting images are all brilliant tools for getting your brand onto people’s screens and on their minds. Following up a cracking digital ad with a clear and succinct elevator pitch on your website, which identifies your client’s problem, offers a solution, and illustrates how engaging your service will make them feel, will consolidate and amplify the impact of your digital campaign.

And by focusing on the emotional impact of what your business does, crafting and sharing your elevator pitch will constantly remind you, your colleagues, and your clients of everything you do to create positive changes: everything you do to improve people’s lives. Realising, again and again, that all your hard work ultimately makes people happy is truly a wonderful feeling.


Ryan Callander is a freelance writer currently available for commercial blog-writing opportunities.

Cover image: Sun Jing Cho on Unsplash.

Text body image: Helena Lopes on Unsplash.

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