What are the key elements of an elevator pitch?

What is in an elevator pitch? In this Inc. Magazine article, the author recommends that you break down the content of the elevator pitch into three key parts:

  1. The benefit. This is not the product or service but what the customer will get if they buy/use your product. Why should they care?  What’s in it for them? That’s the questions you want to answer.
  2. The differentiator. How are you different from all the stuff out there? Remember, sometimes the competition is not another product or service like yours, but the status quo.  For example, a key competitor to Evernote (a cloud based note-taking app that makes sure you never lose a note) is good old pen and paper.  You are competing with what people are comfortable with as well as new offerings that meet the same needs and bring the same benefits.
  3. The ask. The elevator pitch generally should end with a call to action.  What would you like to get from your audience?  Most of the time it is to get another meeting to continue the conversation, or to get feedback, or some such.

Beyond those three key elements of course you also need to provide some basics, such as your name, your company name, and stuff like that.  You’ll need to weave that into your narrative…

… which brings us to the second point: The delivery of the elevator pitch. The most important thing in such a pitch is to be natural and authentic while bringing key points across. This is a social conversation, so you don’t want to over-rehearse it, but you do want to practice it with a timer to make sure you fall inside the 60 second mark.  

The elevator pitch is supremely useful in networking situations where you might be looking to land a next meeting (for example, a 10 minute pitch to gauge interest and get feedback from a mentor or advisor or some such).  Going through the exercise of boiling down your story into a 60 second spot also forces you to distill what you are doing, for whom you are doing it and why.

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