Is Your Elevator Pitch a Monologue or a Dialogue?

Elevator Pitch
Photo by Frank Busch

When most people think “elevator pitch”, they think of a paragraph that they can utter in about 15 seconds that tells people what they do. I’ve written previous articles on how to craft a pitch and how to judge your pitch’s effectiveness. But what most people forget is the goal of the elevator pitch – to start a dialogue.

Let’s say I’m at a mixer, and I ask the person standing next to me what they do for a living. They respond with their elevator pitch. And unless it’s a great pitch, it’s likely that I’ve tuned them out. Why? Because they didn’t tailor their pitch to me.

In all your marketing communication, you need to ensure the message matches your target’s needs. If you don’t know their needs, all you can do is talk at them, and hope that the message somehow “sticks”.

How can you create an elevator pitch that’s memorable? Start slowly. Describe who you target clearly and a single benefit you provide. For example, I’d say: “I help small businesses around the world make more money.” In this simple sentence, I’ve identified my target audience (small businesses), where they are located (around the world), and a single benefit (make more money). Notice I also put in clear clues to help the listener to see if their problems fit my business offerings (this helps the listener frame the dialogue better). Instead of adding any more to the pitch, I now wait for the inevitable question, “How do you make more money?” (I could loan money, steal money, print money, or provide services).

My next sentence is a bit more specific: “I plan and implement creative marketing strategies.” Perhaps they’ll hear the word marketing or creative or strategies. It doesn’t matter much, because I immediately follow up my answer with a question, “What’s your #1 business problem?”

I’ve just created a dialogue around a prospect’s business. The more I find out, the better I can now talk about how my offerings can help their business (or not). The result is a memorable message that’s tailored to my prospect’s needs.

One thought on “Is Your Elevator Pitch a Monologue or a Dialogue?

  1. For me the perfect dialogue is questions. I usually start with “you know when you thought referrals were the only way to get construction business”? Then they usually say yes, or has that changed or whatever…then you respond, well I help contractors find other ways for prospective clients to notice them..

    It has to be a dialogue, when “elevator speeches” were first popular, I memorized a little spiel, it sounded like I was selling rug cleaners..the dialogue starts immediately and it starts with a question. At least it has worked for me.

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