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Why Your Business Needs an Elevator Pitch (and Tips on How to Target it to your Audience)

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Why Your Business Needs an Elevator Pitch (and Tips on How to Target it to your Audience)

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: October 29, 2009

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Whether you are on a trade show floor,

making a sales pitch, or seeking investment, perfecting your elevator pitch can

be one of the most important things your business can do. From the moment you

start-up (when no one has ever heard of you), having a well rehearsed and

compelling elevator pitch can help buyers, clients and potential investors get

to know you quickly.

More than simply explaining your

product, industry, or 'big idea' a business elevator pitch is essentially how

you speak about your business to others in a way that engages and excites.

As business expert Chris O'Leary

states, '...an effective elevator pitch is

designed to give the audience just enough information that they will have a

sense of what you are talking about and want to know more.' (*www.elevatorpitchessentials.com)

Adapt

Your Elevator Pitch to Suit Specific Audiences

A savvy entrepreneur should be prepared

to develop and modify their elevator pitch to meet the needs of the audience

they are engaging.

If, for example, you are pitching your

product to a passerby at a tradeshow booth, you will need to craft quite a

different pitch than the one you would deliver to a potential lending

institution or investor who will quickly weed out ill-prepared and poorly

planned business ideas or propositions based on an elevator pitch alone.

Three

Elements of an Effective Elevator Pitch

To help prepare your elevator pitch

(whether to secure investment for your business or to communicate your sales

proposition) you need to take a three-step approach and address these key

elements of your business:

1. 'What is the problem or 'pain' in the marketplace that your

business addresses?' A good way to

address this element is to ask a question. For example:

Did you know that the average small business wastes

approximately $1,250 in energy costs each month simply because electronic

assets are left to operate on maximum power 24 hours a day?

2. 'How does your business or its product solve this problem?' And, in this

case, the (purely hypothetical) answer might be:

With our patented energy usage monitoring system - ElecTrack

- business owners can monitor energy consumption across all their electronic

assets and remotely deactivate non-business critical equipment and appliances

when not in use.

3. If you are developing an elevator pitch to help communicate

your sales proposition, you should ask yourself: 'What is the main benefit you give?' For

example:

ElecTrack can help you save thousands of dollars a year on

your business utility bills.

Alternatively, if you are seeking investment in your

business the third element should be - 'What do you need to bring your solution to reality?' For example:

We need $1.2 million in funding to get to

the point where the company is self-sustaining. This should happen during the

third quarter of our second year. For the purposes of start-up, we're seeking

$500,000 of initial funding. I am the CEO with 12 years senior sales and

business development experience in the energy efficiency sector. Our Technology

Director has 20 years of electrical engineering and software development

experience and has led the development and patenting of ElecTrack. If we hit

our numbers, we expect to expand our market base into Europe and Asia, within three years.

For specific help on creating your

elevator pitch for investors, take a look at this You Tube *video clip from business

planning expert Tim Berry. He provides tips on how to craft your pitch, what

your goals should be, and perhaps most importantly, what your investors want to

hear.

Get

Feedback and Practice Your Pitch

Another element in the process is to

get feedback on your pitch from fellow stakeholders, employees, or someone not

as close to the business as you are. Modify your pitch based on this feedback,

and then rehearse and familiarize yourself with it. This absolutely involves

reading it out loud. As a goal, aim for delivering your pitch in 30-45 seconds,

longer than that and you'll need to head back to the drawing board.

You could also try writing key words or

phrases from your elevator pitch on a prompt card that you can pull out before

meetings to refresh your memory.

Additional

Resources

  • *Developing an

    Elevator Pitch

    - Links to more resources as provided by the New York State

    Small Business

    Development Center

    (NYS SBDC).

  • *Effective

    Elevator Speeches that Leave a LastingImpression

    (SCORE)

  • Business Planning Tutorials from Business.gov guest blogger and business planning expert Tim Berry
  • Small Business Marketing Guide from

    Business.gov

    - Tips, tools and lots of information to help you market your start-up or small

    business.

  • How to Write a Business Plan

    - From free training and templates to business planning guidance, these

    resources are specifically designed for small business owners and

    entrepreneurs.

*Note: Hyperlink directs reader to non-government Web site.

Message Edited by CaronBeesley on 10-29-2009 08:04 AM

About the Author:

Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

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