Explained: Elevator pitch

The idea is that you deliver the desired answer before the elevator ride comes to an end, which means in less than 30 seconds. In that time, you want to make maximum impact, hopefully creating a response such as your questioner asking for your business card, asking for a follow-up call or to be sent more information.

In essence, your elevator pitch is a somewhat expanded version of your positioning statement.

In a wider context, your elevator pitch provides an essential tool in sales situations such as trade shows, conversations with investors, and networking events.

The goal of the elevator pitch is to communicate key information succinctly and for the desired effect. To achieve the right results, incorporate these key elements:

  • Use “a hook”—a rhetorical “trick”—(possibly in the form a question) to catch the attention and peak the interest of your listener. The hook must have some relevance to the rest of your pitch.
  • State what kind of company you are. Quoting your mission statement will work if it is short and succinct.
  • State your target customer.
  • What is this target customer’s pain? Mention the problem you solve for customers.
  • Explain how you solve this pain—i.e., what is your product/solution? Avoid detailed explanations: stick to the highlights.
  • State your key differentiator. Make sure it holds obvious value to the customer.
  • Strengthen the pitch by offering a piece of information relevant to your audience. This could be the effect or economic value of your offering, expressed in a simple number or sentence.

If you’re an early-stage start-up, bear in mind that your personal track record and credibility comprise a key element of the pitch, especially when pitching to investors.

Lastly, make sure you deliver your elevator pitch with confidence and clarity. Practice delivering it time and time again, until you reach a point where you are very confident about your message.