If you’ve ever been in a business course or a course on learning how to ace your next interview, you’ve probably heard of the elevator speech. It’s that 2 to 3 sentence speech that you rattle off to someone you meet, that explains what you do.
Ideally, it’s a concise speech that you can rattle off to a fellow passenger during a short elevator ride. Thus, the name, “elevator speech.” And it should give some reason for what you do, some benefit to the activity. That way, whoever you’re talking to is engaged and asks for more information.
For many small business owners, this can be a major hurdle. A lot of people never get around to doing the simple exercise of creating their elevator speech, because adding that benefit can feel overwhelming.
It’s easy to say “I’m Bob and I make widgets for woodworkers.” It’s a lot harder to explain what benefit the woodworkers get from those widgets in less than 20 words.
Today, I’m going to show you a simple method you can use to drill down from a full explanation of what you do and why you do it, to a one-sentence elevator speech. I learned this method from the amazing Pat Flynn at last year’s Converted conference.
Step 1: Figure Out What You Do and Why You Do It
The first part should be pretty simple for most people. Generally speaking, you know what you do for a living, whether you own a small business or you work for someone else. The “why” part is where many people get hung up, especially small business owners.
Is the “why” supposed to be about why you started your own business? Is it supposed to be about what your product does? Is it supposed to be about why people should use your product or service?
Technically, it’s the third one. But it goes a bit beyond that. It’s what benefit does your product or service give the end user.
If you haven’t figured that out yet, I recommend reading my “Finding Your Why” blog post. It will help you figure that “why” part out.
Step 2: Write It Down
Take between 5 and 20 minutes and write down what you do and why. Be as descriptive as you want, but make it 1 page or less.
I’ll model that here:
I am a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant. I help my clients by taking care of their marketing, so they don’t have to think about it. I offer a wide range of services, including:
- Website copy
- Landing pages
- Squeeze pages
- Online sales letters
- Content marketing
- Autoresponder series
- Case studies
- White papers
- Direct response packages
- Press releases
- SEO copywriting optimization for websites, blogs and articles
- Keyword research
- Site audits
- AB testing and analysis
- Refining and improving your sales funnel
- Email list building
- Customer conversion – the art of turning website visitors into repeat customers
I work closely with my clients to capture their company voice and work with their overall brand. If they haven’t established those, I help them create their voice and brand, then use them throughout their marketing.
I set up email list building and sales funnels to convert website browsers into life-long customers. I help my clients grow their businesses through well-written content and strategic marketing practices.
Okay, that’s a lot to tell someone in an elevator. Even if you had 40 floors to tell someone all of this, they’d have tuned out a long time ago. The next step is to hone this down to something reasonable.
Step 3: Reduce Your One Page Down to One Paragraph
Yes, editing is hard. All those precious words you just worked laboriously to create, how can you let them go?
Once you get going, it’s easy.
First, take out anything a total stranger doesn’t need to know. A lot of this information may be great for your website, but for a succinct one-paragraph description, it’s too much. As you’re doing this, feel free to change what you wrote originally so you’re happier with the way it sounds.
My single paragraph would look something like this:
I am a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant. I take the burden of marketing off the shoulders of small business owners so they can do what they love best, run their businesses and make their products or perform their services. I offer a wide range of copywriting services to my clients, from website copy and landing page creation to lead and sales funnels. I help my clients grow their businesses through well-written content and strategic marketing practices.
Well, that would be a lot easier for someone to get through during an elevator ride, but there’s not a lot of room for conversation. By the time I finished all of that, whoever was riding with me would want to get off a floor early and take the stairs.
Now, I’ll reduce this down even further.
Step 4: Reduce Your One Paragraph Down to One Sentence
“One sentence?” I hear you cry. “My business is far too complicated to explain in one sentence.”
No, not really. Most people explain what they do in one sentence. If you ask someone “What do you do?” They usually answer with about 3-5 words:
- I’m a copywriter.
- I’m a lawyer.
- I work at a grocery store.
When you add the “why” into that sentence, things can get complicated. The “why” is usually where all the extra words come in.
Take a moment and think about your “why.” If you’ve done the “So What Method” exercise, you should have a pretty good idea of why you do what you do.
My “why” is, I genuinely want to help small business owners grow their businesses. I do that by helping them with their marketing.
I could say something like: “I’m a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant, I help small business owners grow their businesses.” That is what I do, and even a little of why I do it. But there’s not a lot of end-user benefit there.
And honestly, I don’t have to tell people I’m a copywriter. Half the people I meet assume I work for the government in the Copyright Office, which I don’t. I usually say “I’m the kind that writes words for advertising” when I get that response.
I’m going to take the word “copywriter” out of my elevator speech entirely. Instead, I’m going to tell people what I do. Here’s my final elevator speech:
“I help small business owners grow their businesses by writing advertising copy that converts website visitors and leads into customers.”
This sentence tells you who I serve, what I do and the benefit my clients receive from my services.
Thank you, Pat Flynn.
Does this still seem overwhelming to you? Download my Pat Flynn’s Guide to Creating Your Elevator Speech checklist, so you can reference every step as you create your own elevator speech.
What’s Your Elevator Speech?
Pitch me with your one sentence in the comments.