Post by Bonnie Marcus, contributing Women On Business writer
How often have you been at a networking event or business gathering and someone asks you, “What do you do?” Panic sets in. You try to remember your elevator pitch. You break out in a sweat as you stumble through the words. And, guess what? The pitch falls flat. It sounds just like everyone else’s. Frustrated, you leave that conversation thinking, “What can I say to promote myself effectively? What kind of message can I deliver that will differentiate me from everyone else?”
Most of us have been taught the “correct” formula for an elevator pitch. The template dictates that we introduce ourselves and our business, describe what services/products we offer, to what target audience, and how this target audience benefits. An example is as follows:
I’m Bonnie Marcus and my company is Women’s Success Coaching, and I assist professional women to promote themselves effectively in order for them to achieve their business and career goals.
Not bad, huh? Ho Hum.
Here’s my test for a good elevator speech. If you say it out loud and say, “So what?” then you need to go back and re-do the message. If you are bored with it, everyone else will be bored too. You want to deliver a message that is compelling and memorable.
Why is it so difficult to articulate what we do? Part of the reason is that we believe that the elevator pitch is the only way to speak professionally about ourselves and our business. Yet, sticking to this formula can often be awkward. And because everyone uses the same approach, the pitch does not allow your message to stand out. You want people to take notice and remember you.
If the elevator pitch works for you, that’s great. If you don’t feel comfortable with it and you feel it is not creating enough buzz about your business, then try another approach.
Here are some questions I ask my clients to help them craft an impactful message.
- What do you most want to communicate about yourself and your business?
- What have you identified as a pain or a need for your target audience?
- Can you identify with this pain or need? What has been your personal story?
- What do you love about what you do?
Here is an example of what I call a Passion and Purpose Statement or my pitch about my business.
Self-promotion is very difficult especially for women and yet it is so important to do so in a way that is authentic and compelling. In my corporate experience as well as my coaching practice, I have seen what happens when women take a back seat and do not promote themselves effectively; perhaps they were passed over for a promotion at work; maybe they did not do well on their job interview and missed out on a new opportunity, maybe they didn’t grow their business at the pace that they anticipated, or maybe they weren’t able to obtain venture capital or funding for their new business venture. There are many consequences for women who do not promote themselves well. Women’s Success Coaching assists women to overcome what holds them back from speaking in a positive manner about themselves and their business and helps them to create an effective message to build their business or advance their careers. I’m Bonnie Marcus and my company is Women’s Success Coaching.
A good pitch will resonate immediately with your target market. It needs to be authentic and compelling to deliver the punch you desire. What makes it compelling is YOUR story and YOUR personal connection with your business.
If the elevator format is preventing you from creating a message that is both interesting and memorable, try this approach. Connect with your passion and purpose and see if you get a different response to your pitch the next time someone asks you, “What do you do?”