Now that you’ve settled on a Minimum Viable Product, and understand what kinds of measurements will validate your idea, it’s almost time to start collecting data. Before you do, however, you’ll need to make sure that you’re ready to communicate your business concept effectively. In today’s post, we’ll teach you how to craft an elevator pitch that will express your idea quickly and simply, setting you up to gather as much feedback as possible from your potential customers.
What Is an Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch is a very distilled version of your business idea that lets you get quickly to feedback.
Imagine that you step into an elevator and turn around, only to notice that your business hero just walked in behind you! Now’s your chance to get her advice on your business. She presses the button for the top floor, and you you have three minutes to soak up as much of her knowledge as possible.
Hopefully you’ve realized that the more time you spend explaining your idea, the less time you’ll be able to spend listening to her feedback.
So an elevator pitch is a very distilled version of your business idea that lets you get quickly to feedback. Talking won’t allow you to validate your business, but listening will.
Speed is the main thing that sets an elevator pitch apart.
Speed is the main thing that sets an elevator pitch apart. In general, you should make sure your pitch is under 30 seconds. If you can’t reasonably explain the main point of your business in that amount of time, you need to rethink a few things anyway.
You’ll be surprised just how much you can communicate in under 30 seconds! Think about the last YouTube video you watched with an ad. You may only be required to watch 5 seconds before you can hit the “skip” button, but I bet you got a pretty good sense of what they were trying to sell you in that time.
A good way to create a lightning-fast elevator pitch is to compare yourself to something that people are already familiar with. I recently used an app that billed itself as the “Uber of dog walking.” That pitch takes about two seconds, and as a potential customer I immediately had a reasonable understanding of the service. While your elevator pitch might be longer than 4 words, a quick comparison framed in the structure of “the (something your audience is familiar with) of (your niche)” is a good model to strive for.
If you aren’t able to make it that concise, try to explain your business in two sentences at the most.
Be concise, but don’t alienate your listeners by overusing insider terminology.
The other key element of an elevator pitch is clarity. While using insider terminology might help you express your idea concisely, you’ll want to make sure not to alienate your listeners. If your pitch is short, but you end up constantly having to explain the words you use in it, it defeats the point.
I developed an elevator pitch for a startup which, for some time, was pivoting around the idea of developing a Massive Open Online Course (or MOOC). While there are lots of MOOC-based business, we quickly learned that our target market, and almost everyone else we pitched to, was instantly lost when we started using that terminology. Calling it an “online correspondence class” or “video course” felt a little less exciting to us when we said it; but it was more important that the person we were talking to didn’t have to ask several follow-up questions before being able to give us feedback.
You’re much more likely to get valuable feedback if your pitch ignites curiosity.
Crafting an elevator pitch that’s quick and clear should be your main goal. However, don’t lose site of the fact that every person you talk to has the potential to become an early adopter or evangelist. The customers who buy into your idea at the beginning will be enormously helpful later when you’re ready to market your product.
Do not sacrifice speed or clarity, or turn early conversations into a sales pitch; but you can use your elevator pitch as an opportunity to pique someone’s interest. If your pitch ignites curiosity, you’re much more likely to get valuable feedback than if the person you’re pitching to is apathetic. Curious people will ask you about specific elements of your business plan, and in doing so, might point you toward problems you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
Your elevator pitch might look great on paper, but if you’re planning on validating your idea face-to-face, you’ll want to make sure you practice your delivery a few times beforehand. Rather than knowing the gist and then wasting time with verbal tics when you’re actually in front of someone, memorize your wording verbatim, and practice saying it in a strong voice with confident posture.
Don’t be afraid to borrow a friend and have them pretend they just met you and are asking what you do for the first time. How you present your idea can often matter as much as the idea itself, so don’t miss an opportunity to do this right.
Still Having a Hard Time Choosing the Right Words?
We’d love to hear about your business idea—and we’d love to help you craft a great elevator pitch so you can start sharing it! Comment below, or hit us up on Twitter @wpbusinesstips.
Next week we’ll continue our marketing series by taking a look how to collect data to test your MVP, so make sure to subscribe to our mailing list to get new posts in your inbox every Thursday!