ArticlesSales Training

The Dos and Donts of an Elevator Pitch

read ( words)

The dreaded question: "What exactly does your company do?" It's a simple question, but do you find that every time you answer it you give a different answer?

One of the first steps in positioning and branding a new company is to craft an elevator pitch. Simply put, an elevator pitch is a clear, compelling description of your business that is short enough to be understood (by your mother no less) in the time it takes to ride an elevator. That's about 60 seconds or 150 to 225 words. This is not an easy as it sounds. To do it well requires a great amount of thought, strategizing, and finesse.

Here are some quick Dos and Don'ts:

- Do start with a hook: what is most compelling about your story?

- Do show how you solve a problem. Too many companies offer a solution, but never identify the problem they are solving?

- Do briefly describe what you sell but don't kill them with details at this point.

- Do tell them who you are: who is behind the company and why you will succeed. (Got a great advisory board? Mention it.)

- Do briefly describe the target market: who it is; what industry; how big.

- Do mention how you will get revenue.

- Do note your competitive advantage be it intellectual property, distribution, partners, or whatever.

- Do speak in plain English. Don't use acronyms, technospeak, hype, or marketing babble.

- Do show enthusiasm and passion (if you don't believe it, who will?) but don't go over the top. (That's why used-car salesmen are forced to sell used cars.)

- Do practice, practice, practice. It should roll off your tongue naturally and consistently. No ums or uhs.

- Do make sure everyone in the company has the same story. Don't forget the receptionist. You don't want to be in a position where members of your own team have contradictory descriptions of your company.

- Do adjust for your audience. Customers are more interested in what problem you are solving for them than how you plan to make money. Save those details for potential investors.

- Do close with a call to action. Get a business card, schedule a follow-up call, set up a presentation, something.

- Do write it down. This will have a million uses--from the boilerplate in your press releases to online directory listings--to get your company description in the world consistently. Do shorter versions as well.

Jennifer Guinan, president of Sage Strategic Marketing, offers 19 years of experience in marketing, communications, Internet and search engine marketing, and PR for companies and organizations large and small. Guinan's background includes national and international marketing and communications executive management and strategy, PR and media relations, and consulting. Her experience spans multiple industries from financial, healthcare, and life sciences to technology segments including software, networking, telecommunications, embedded systems, and wireless. She has developed M&A communications strategies, executed crisis management campaigns, successfully launched a number of startup companies, and strategized and implemented company repositioning, product launches, and issues campaigns. Contact us: or

Rate this article
Current Rating 0 stars (0 ratings)
Click the star above that marks your rating