Elevator pitch

by Parvez Sheik Fareed

At the Global HQ of the world’s most unknown agency we do not have an elevator pitch. The experts tell you that you need an elevator pitch when you start your own company. Without an elevator pitch you won’t make it. It’s the ticket to glory because you can tell anyone within 30 to 60 seconds what you do. If you are not able to deliver this message you will suffer the “I-fucked-up-my-pitch-and-now-I-look-like-a-twit”-stroke and you will die a slow death, but not before the aliens have abducted you and done a range of unpleasant things to you. I am not kidding. This shit almost happened to us. We looked like twits, but we did manage to fight the aliens.

The idea of the elevator pitch is valid and useful. The execution of it, doing the actual pitch in the fashion suggested is rubbish, though. It comes across rather unnaturally and you are making an impression as if you are auditioning for an acting class but failed to take the sign where it said “Please take the next exit to your right”. Two exceptions:

  1. Your business needs funding and you present it to a venture capitalist or an angel investor. In this case your pitch will actually be a short 30 to 60 second monologue  as opposed to a conversation because your audience is expecting it.
  2. You are at some boring business networking event where people find pleasure in trying to impress each other with their pitches.

Obviously you need to know what your biz is about and it shouldn’t take you 30 minutes to articulate what you do. But usually A says something to B, then B says something, A voices his opinion etc. I believe such an interaction is called conversation. So, if somebody asks what you do, I suggest to keep it simple. Reason: information overload. If you flood people with information, the reaction will be “I didn’t quite get it, could you explain that again please?” Nobody has been waiting for you to pitch them. Just give them one piece at a time and usually people will express an interest and respond with a question. When people ask us what we do, we tell them (apart from having no experience) that we are in the marketing biz. Some react with a question such as “Marketing, what kind of marketing?” So I ask them what their definition of the apparent kinds of marketing is. Next they explain what they mean and that’s where you get to dive in and provide further details. Conversation. You listen, you ask, you respond. Imagine the response would have been “We offer marketing solutions to  companies which are bla bla bla… our unique selling proposition is based on the fact that bla bla bla…”. Then you smile and hope that the person goes “Wow, I am not only impressed, in addition to that you just made my day. As a matter of fact I will now remember you for the rest of my life and when I bump into somebody who could use your services I will surely refer them to you”. Unlikely. There’s a higher probability that the  reaction will be “You got me confused, try again please, but in  way that I understand”. Just because you were delivering a message. Instead of keeping it simple and actually have a real conversation.

Next time don’t use the elevator. Take the stairs when you tell people what you do. Slow and sexy wins the race.