Nailing the perfect “Elevator Pitch”

Posted on November 12th, 2012 by in Editorial Musings

Prospects are everywhere. More likely than not, you have a service that can help them out in some way. If you keep your eyes open, you will discover potential clients everywhere— at little Timmy’s soccer game, in line at the grocery store, wandering a crowded parking lot looking for your car, on a plane, and even in an elevator.

An “Elevator Pitch” has been defined as a concise (30 seconds to 2 minutes), carefully planned, and well-practiced description about your company that your mother should be able to understand in the time it would take to ride up an elevator. If in Shanghai or Singapore–you probably have some more time!

Elevator Pitches are critical in the travel industry. Your prospects are quite literally everywhere; and with the ease of entry into the industry, you need something to set you apart from the others—something beside that fact that you “love” travel and are “passionate” about customer service.

Studies have shown that you only have 30-60 seconds to make a first impression. The attention span of the average person is just 30 seconds before their mind starts wandering. So you have a half-minute to tell your story and impress them enough to continue listening for the rest of the ride!

7 Elements of a Powerful Elevator Pitch

  1. Be Concise. Your pitch should take no longer than 30-60 seconds.
  2. Be Clear. Use language that everyone understands. Leave the industry jargon out of it. If you tell someone you are great at planning “fits” you probably are not making any points. Remember, no one really cares how the job gets done, just that it gets done.
  3. Be Powerful. Use words that are powerful and strong. We work in a very descriptive industry. We facilitate dreams to travel to the most beautiful and exciting places. Use your resources and use the strong words. Use visual words that will leave your prospect imagining the images long after he has stepped off the elevator.
  4. Tell a Story. But keep it very, very short. A good story for travel is really two pieces—a person has a problem and finds a solution or alternately a person has a problem and finds tragedy. I am sure we can all think of plenty of both.
  5. Be Targeted. The greatest elevator pitches are aimed toward a specific audience. The pitch in a Black Friday shopping line is likely much different than the one in the real elevator after you just presented to a group of local businessmen.
  6. Be Goal Oriented. Truly great Elevator Pitches have a goal in mind—sale, prospect, or introduction. While not critical, (and typically we can expect very few sales from an Elevator Pitch) it may be something to keep in mind. Do you want to intrigue them enough to call you because they are considering a trip? Or are you just looking to meet a particular individual in hopes of being able to have more in-depth discussion?
  7. Hook ‘Em. You need to have a catch. Walmart “rolls back” prices. Priceline is the “negotiator.” You get the idea. Float the hook and give the line a tug as yor prospect steps off the elevator.

How to Craft Your Pitch

  • Write it down. Actually, write down a dozen or more items about what you do. Do not edit this—completely brainstorm. Serious, silly, cliché, tied and true…it doesn’t matter. Just write down a bunch.
  • Write your story.  Paint your picture and write down what exactly it is that you do for your prospects and clients. It can be long (now), but remember to use your descriptive words.
  • Write down your goal. Do you want to make a sale, find a prospect, get an introduction, drum up interest in your charity cruise?
  • Write 10-20 action statements. This should be a statement or question designed to reach your goal. For example, if you are looking to pique interest in Italy, “I have never seen a more beautiful site than Positano at dusk with the setting sun reflecting off the homes that are just beginning to light up as the Mediterranean sparkles below.”  Or, “What is the most unique hotel room you have ever seen. Did you know there is one in a jail in Boston?”
  • Record yourself. Voice matters. With 30 seconds there is not time for “uhms” and “wells” and “ahs.” There are a million recording applications—use them and listen to see if your voice is pleasing. If not, work on changing it. Let others have a listen.
  • Let it bake. Nothing looks good after a first draft. Like a travel column, a complicated FIT or a group quote—let it sit and take a look with a fresh pair of eyes and ears in a few days.
  • Separate the wheat from the chaff. Go through what you have done and circle the key words. Highlight the words and phrases that motivate you and engage you on a visceral level. Concentrate on the phrases and keywords right now—the connecting words will come later.
  • Put the best with the best. Here you are tightening the Elevator Pitch. Describe what you do, what you can do, and use the language to paint the picture. If there is room, toss in the story.
  • Re-record. Record the new ones again and hone it a little further.
  • Your final edits. Cut as many unnecessary words as possible. Rearrange words and phrases until it sounds just right. Remember, 30-60 seconds maximum.
  • Show time. Run it by some honest friends and family—ask for honest, brutal feedback. Remember this is helping to put food on your table—no time for your mom being a mom or an employee to suck up to the boss-man.
  • Voila. Take your final elevator pitch and write it down. Memorize it. Practice it. Eventually it will come from your mouth without any effort at all.
  • Now do it over again. Well, not really. But keep your ears open for new keywords and phrases that you can insert into your pitch and change as needed. Also, give some consideration to completely re-doing it when you are faced with significant changes in your business.

I am one that believes in walking the walk in addition to talking the talk, so here’s one of mine:

Have you ever noticed how single parents are penalized when they travel? As a single dad of three, it didn’t take long for me to realize that traveling without a spouse and with kids was expensive and a significant hassle. So, I started Single Parent Travel in an effort to reduce the hassle and cost. Today, life is too busy and complicated. We eliminate most of the hassles, reduce some of the costs and allow single parent families to spend more of that elusive quality time together—bringing them closer than ever before. We span all types of travel–cruises on all of the seven seas, fabulous resorts, exotic, remote, or even quaint little motor lodges all seem to do the trick.

Now granted, I have a very niche product and hopefully I am not launching into the single parent thing on random strangers, but the pitch concisely says what I do, explains the problems I solve, paints a picture of empathy, and says that the offerings might appeal to a broad range of interests in financial ability.

Hopefully, at this point, I have left the prospect with one of two thoughts—“hey, this is cool and I need to look into it, I need to get his card.”  Or, “Well, I am not a single parent, but wow, what a good idea. I need to get his card.”

Do you have an elevator pitch? Dare to share? Please leave a comment!

 

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