A well-honed elevator pitch is important for companies whose value propositions are not immediately apparent. For the Home Depots and McDonalds of the world, we “get” what you do. Their elevator pitches are relatively straightforward. But for the vast majority of unknown B2B companies slugging it out in the trenches, an effective elevator pitch is important and should address three key elements:
Association: Humans have a tendency to “group” like entities together; it’s just the way our minds work. Think: apples and oranges. As such, when a manufacturer spouts about its widget, the human on the receiving end of that message will try to associate that widget manufacturer with other, similar widget manufacturers. If Home Depot were the widget in question, for example, one’s mind would immediately jump to Lowe’s or perhaps Ace Hardware. Association is like a magnetized element in marketing. Done correctly, it can be a powerful element in your arsenal; done poorly, and you’ll set off on a never-ending explanation journey that ends with both you and others frustrated.
Differentiation: Once you have associated an audience to a particular focus zone, the next step involves differentiating yourself within that zone. To carry forward the Home Depot example, one might differentiate against Lowes based on price and service (suggesting that Home Depot offers “lower prices” and “better service”) and differentiate against Ace based on location and selection (suggesting that Home Depot has “more stores” and a “larger product mix”).
While all of these differentiators are accurate, it’s important to keep in mind that they may not all be relevant to the audience at hand. Which is why the third element is so important.
Value: Most elevator pitches stop with the association and differentiation hurdles covered. But the best elevator pitches go a step further, deliberately trespassing into the audience’s value zone. This is when an elevator pitch becomes an elevator catch. Whatever your particular differentiators are, it’s critical that they “matter” to your audience in fact, not just to yourself in theory. For example, if in the example above the audience comprises unaccomplished DIYers who might be intimidated by big box home improvement stores, one might emphasize personal service over endless selection as a differentiator. The key is knowing what they value first, and then shaping the content to map accordingly. Typically, this last step gets left behind, leaving elevator pitches sounding particularly generic and often meaningless. Strike with value and your audience will catch what you’re pitching far more willingly.
Do you know what your customers and prospects value most highly about your solutions and products?
If you do, you’ll market well. If you don’t, ring me.