(Plus a Three-Step Framework You Can Use Today)
Whether you’re a serial entrepreneur, a startup founder, or the originator of a very brilliant idea that’s soon to revolutionize the market, one thing you all share in common is the need for an elevator pitch. Maybe you have one; maybe you’ve been working on one; maybe you’ve heard the phrase and have no idea what it means. Either way, you’re in the right place.
- If you’ve created your elevator pitch, congratulations! Keep reading, because you might discover a way to make it even better.
- If the floor around your desk is littered with crumpled pieces of paper, don’t worry. We can help you streamline your process and create something great.
- If the words “elevator” and “pitch” don’t seem to even go together in your mind, we hear you. It’s about to make more sense.
First Thing: Let’s Define an Elevator Pitch
Traditionally, the words “elevator pitch” have been used to describe the process of introducing yourself, explaining who you are or what you do, and (maybe) creating a new business relationship – either immediately or in the future.
The idea is that you can do all of this within 30 to 60 seconds – roughly the amount of time you might be on an elevator with someone. Of course, not all of us spend considerable amounts of time in elevators, but the idea isn’t contingent on doing so. A good elevator pitch can be used nearly anywhere.
If you are attending a conference, attempting to network at an industry event, or navigating small-talk at your significant other’s college reunion, having a tried and true way of talking about yourself or your business will be extremely helpful. This is where we can help.
Elevator Pitch Examples
At The Main Stage, we work closely with startup founders, entrepreneurs, and business creatives on a daily basis. A lot of that time is spent helping craft effective elevator pitches.
Here’s something we’ve learned: you need the ability to revise your pitch on the spot, so keeping a few similar versions on hand is smart. Why? Because your elevator pitch is as much about the person you’re talking to as it is about you or your business. We’ll explain more about that below. In the meantime, here are 9 unique elevator pitch examples. Find some you like.
1. Pull in Your Personality
Because an elevator pitch can be a good place to infuse some of your personality, don’t be afraid to create an authentic-to-you way of describing your work. (Warning: don’t get carried away here…if you’re normally a 9, there’s no reason to turn your personality up to 11) If you’re funny – or if the work you do has a humorous angle to it – you may consider leaning into that just a bit. Here’s an example:
I’m in the pet waste business, but that’s just a nice way of avoiding other words. We’ve actually seen consistent growth since we launched, and are looking at expansion opportunities around the state. You might say work is “piling up,” but I prefer the “call of doody.” Do you have a dog?
2. Start With a Question
Sometimes a question like “so…what do you do?” is an exercise in politeness. We may have done this ourselves and inadvertently zoned out once we’d asked. To avoid this, it can be helpful for the person answering to start with a question. It’s a way of engaging your listener from the start – it invites them to be an active participant in the conversation.
What kind of work do you do?
Let me ask you this: Is it difficult to keep your kids from being bored in the summer?
Sure, it can be. We seem to deal with complaints about boredom every year.
We were in the same situation. It’s the reason I developed these online camps for kids. They’re built around the things so many teens and pre-teens are already interested in, like coding, creating YouTube content, and gaming. I’ve partnered with a team of subject matter experts to lead the groups, and last year we had 50 kids sign up. We’re on track to double that this year. Can I send you a guest login to check it out in more detail?
3. Provide a Significant Stat
Depending on your audience, nothing may be more compelling than a well-placed statistic. Statistics are sticky, and they tend to attach themselves to our brains as soon as we hear them – especially if we hear them more than once. Incorporating a statistic into your elevator pitch can have people eager to know more. Here’s what we mean:
You know, we’ve come a long way with recycling, but foam – whether it’s coffee cups in a hotel lobby or packing peanuts used by some shipping companies – is still an issue. In some landfills, all this foam takes up 30% of the available space. Even worse, its expected lifespan is around 500 years! My company is working to replace foam products with recycled paper. 500 years to decompose is unacceptable. We’re helping companies make the change. I’d love to get you on board. Can we meet sometime next week?
4. Empathy + Authority
Together, empathy and authority are two of the building blocks of trust. When you can find an authentic way to lead with empathy (in other words, that you understand and value someone else’s feelings), the person or people you’re talking with will feel validated. Empathy also allows you to speak from a place of authority.
I think you’re really onto something there. You know the struggles with public transportation in our community firsthand. I’ve been working on an idea – one that addresses the issues you’re talking about and tackles some of the underlying problems with rideshare services. Can we schedule some time to talk more about this together?
5. The Value Add
When your pitch provides some built-in value for the person you’re talking to, it’s even easier to keep their attention and have them respond positively. Adding value begins with understanding what the person or people you’re speaking to are dealing with, and then tailoring your elevator pitch around their needs and wants – like this:
Your practice isn’t the only one trying to revamp its electronic health records. Knowing that you need something easy, affordable, and HIPAA-compliant makes me think we can help. The software my company created checks all those boxes – plus, doctors tell us they don’t dread completing their notes now. Can I drop by next week and show you the demo?
6. Tell a Good Story
You know that’s what all of this is, right? Every elevator pitch, no matter how you slice it, is a chance to tell a story. Better yet, if you take the time or get the help necessary to craft this pitch, it’s an opportunity to invite someone else into a story – one that could change both of your lives for the better.
Here’s an example of the kind of story we’re talking about:
You know that expression “this isn’t personal, it’s just business?” I have a hard time making that distinction. The work I do is nothing if not personal. I spent years struggling with an alcohol problem that, frankly, only kept getting worse. If my family and friends hadn’t intervened, I don’t know that I’d be here today. That’s why launching a local sober living facility is so important to me. We both know at least a few people who could use the kind of help I got. I’d like to buy you a cup of coffee Friday morning to share my plan with you. Will that work?
7. Be Handy With the Hook
In the same way that some of the songs you love have killer hooks (think The Jackson 5 singing “ABC,” Weezer’s “Buddy Holly,” or Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone”), your elevator pitch can include a line – sometimes in the form of a question – that stays stuck in your audience’s mind long after you’ve stopped talking – for example:
In a perfect world, emergencies would never happen, your employees would work the same number of hours every day, and payroll would be a breeze. But that’s not reality. Our intuitive timekeeping tracker takes the guesswork out of payroll processing. The best part? It works with your existing system. I guess the real question is, can you afford not to use a system like this?
8. Short and Sweet
So far, each example we’ve provided has tried to fit everything you might want to convey in under 60 seconds. Not too shabby. There will be times, however, that you need to drive home your elevator pitch in less time than that. Whether you missed your chance earlier in a conversation or you unexpectedly bump into a well-known angel investor in the airport, you will occasionally need an elevator pitch that is short and sweet. Here’s how it works:
Like a lot of people, the pandemic was my chance to pivot. I wanted to know if my vegan bakery would sink or swim. Guess what? We raised $100k in less than a month. Here’s my card. Check out the website and email me if you want to talk numbers.
9. Be the Solution to a Problem
We’ve saved this one for last because it may be the most important. If you want your elevator pitch to engage your intended audience and compel them to do something, you need to be the solution to a problem – their problem. We’ll explain and simplify that framework in the next section, but the basic idea looks a little like this:
People hate everything about moving – from loading the truck to unpacking all those boxes. Here’s the weird thing about my team, though: they love the whole process and they’re really good at it. We do the packing, the loading, the driving, the unpacking, and the set-up. You get a digital inventory of everything in our possession, plus GPS tracking for the entirety of the trip. For peace of mind with your next move, do you think you’ll book with us?
A Three-Step Framework for Creating the Right Elevator Pitch
You’ve already absorbed a lot of information here, so this framework is intentionally lightweight. It takes into account a limited amount of time, short attention spans, and the need to engage your listener and compel them to act. As you craft and fine-tune your unique elevator pitch, remember these three steps:
Step 1: What’s the Problem?
We know you’re excited to get to the solution you’ve developed but earn the right to be heard first. Speak to the problem or problems your listener is dealing with. In the example above, it was moving – a thing people legitimately hate to do.
Step 2: What’s the Product or Service that Solves this Problem?
If you clearly identify a listener’s pain points, there’s good news: you now have their attention. They’re listening, which means this is your opportunity to tell them how you solve that problem. Yes, you’ll want to provide value, tell a good story, demonstrate empathy, and all the other examples we provided, but none of that will matter unless you connect their problem to the solution you’re sharing. In the example above, the solution was everything from packing to GPS tracking.
Step 3: What Are the Results of Doing Business With You?
In the final step in this framework, you need to be able to convey what your listener’s life will be like when they choose to do business with you. It’s important to paint a picture that allows your audience to understand the results of your product or service. In the example above, it was peace of mind.
Here’s an easy way to remember these three steps: problem/solution/results. If you’re serious about crafting an evergreen elevator pitch that speaks to your audience instead of at them, this framework – along with all the examples shared here – will help. When you do that, your audience will grow, your business will thrive, and people will get the help they need. It doesn’t get much better than that.
If you need a little assistance crafting your company story in a way that grabs the attention of potential investors, today is the day to make it happen. Press the home button above to learn more or start your free 14-day trial. The future of fundraising is here – only at The Main Stage.
Aishlin Harrison is the co-founder of The Main Stage, as well as an artist, musician, and passionate entrepreneur. In addition to these roles, she serves as Creative Advisor for RedCrow™, Inc., a direct investment and marketing platform for healthcare companies. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.