An elevator pitch tells someone what you do in as few words as possible while piquing as much interest as possible. It’s what we say when someone says, “Tell me about what you do.” If you’re a business owner or entrepreneur this is especially important, because you never know who is going to bring you your next business.
I wrote this article for the now defunct Etsy‘s I Heart Art Portland, who asked me to write something to help artists and crafters prepare for their Mixer Match event last August. During the event, “forty handmade artists had a mere two minutes to pitch their product to each of 20 local and regional buyers in an atmosphere a-buzz with energy and excitement.” Even if you’re not an artist or crafter, the advice in it can be helpful.
Elevator Pitch Primer – 8 Things To Keep in Mind
By: Alicia Nagel for I Heart Art: Portland
Brand Identity & Graphic Design
An elevator pitch tells someone what you do in as few words as possible while piquing as much interest as possible.
I make and sell handmade jewelry on Etsy under the name, Lotus Adornments. Recently my work has been featured in WWeek’s Style section and was spotted being worn by Chloe Sevigny. Each piece is handmade by me in sterling or copper and is a die-cast replica of something precious found in nature like a seed-pod or shell. This process reveals the unexpected beauty found in nature and encourages people to look closer at the world around them. It’s a good combination of modern yet feminine style – a look that lets you be sophisticated even when dressing down.
Would you like a card? You can see some of my work on my website. I have some new designs on there for Fall.
Editor’s Note [by I Heart Art:Portland]: This may look like a lot to say during an elevator ride, but we timed it, and you might be surprised that even while speaking slowly, it clocks in at 36 seconds. It’s amazing what you can say in such a short span of time!
Here are some things to keep in mind as you’re crafting your elevator pitch.
1. Keep it Short and Introductory
Keep it short – people have a very limited attention span. An elevator pitch is a rough overview – do not go into too much detail unless asked to.
2. Avoid Jargon
If you don’t know how familiar the listener is with your industry, use words that anyone can comprehend. If they are one of your clan, feel free to use insider terms. (“Die-cast” has the word “replica” after it in case people don’t know what die-cast means.)
3. Why is what you’re doing special?
(“This process reveals the unexpected beauty found in nature and encourages people to look closer at the world around them.”)
Establish the credibility of your company, creation process, recognition, or your personal reputation or experience level. (“Recently my work has been featured in WWeek’s Style section and spotted being worn by Chloe Sevigny.”)
Why should the person you’re talking to care? If they’re not your target audience, encourage them to think of someone they know who has this need. (“It’s a good combination of modern yet feminine style – a look that lets you be sophisticated even when dressing down.” The listener might think, “yes this is me”, or “yes this is my sister”, or “wow, I want to feel sophisticated without overdressing.”)
You’re aim is not to win a customer right here and now. Your purpose here is to pique their interest and start something that could eventually lead to a sale.
7. End with a Card
Other people might not encourage you to do this but I will. It doesn’t hurt – how will the person remember you otherwise? End with giving them your card – right after your elevator pitch is the most natural time to offer it. If you don’t offer one now, you will have to wait for the momentum of the conversation to shift back to you, and it might not. Or if you offer one later, it might seem forced. If possible, tell them why they might want to card – they can see what your stuff looks like, you offer a discount online, you have new pieces coming out.
If at any point you see the listener’s eyes glaze over because they lose interest, note at what point this happens. Adjust your pitch for the next person and see if the response improves. You may notice trends that certain types of people prefer one sort of description, and another type prefers something else. For example, a man vs. a woman, or a student vs. a working professional with an expendable income. If you think the listener is someone who is very far from your ideal customer, also take this into consideration because they will have reduced interest no matter how compelling your pitch is.
P.S. No matter what you say, it’s also how you say it. Have a nice handshake, smile, and look the person in the eye. Let your passion for what you do shine through.
I Heart Art: Portland is a pilot project representing the collaborative relationship between Etsy, Pacific Northwest College of Art, Museum of Contemporary Craft and the Portland Etsy Team. Their mission is to support and advocate for Portland’s vibrant community of makers by fostering dialogue, inspiring activity and offering access to resources that are otherwise difficult to find. (Note: I worked with I Heart Art: Portland for two years and then sadly they closed their doors at the end of 2012. Therefore the article is copied and pasted here in entirety and not linked to their website as it’s down.)
Main photo: Creative Commons License, by Flickr user TechCocktail.