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How to Create a Killer Elevator Pitch

The succinct business description you need to succeed


How to Create a Killer Elevator Pitch
Photo by Flickr user Tom Stovall
A "killer elevator pitch" sounds a little like something out of a bad horror movie. Nonetheless, it's something that every entrepreneur needs to have in his or her back pocket for those critical chance encounters with a potential investor, business partner or ally.

How you frame your business in the "killer elevator pitch" can mean all the difference in terms of attracting and retaining the kinds of relationships you need to help your business grow.

Crafting your killer elevator pitch may take time, but this guide is meant to give you a jump start.

Focus on the pain points. 

A "pain point" is the market need that your product or service addresses. It's often good to kick off with this -- and naturally, the more painful you can make the pain point seem, the better.

For instance, the creators of the NEST thermostat saw that there was a lack of ingenuity in design of traditional thermostats, and that was having a negative impact on both people's lives and the environment. By using their product design chops (honed at Apple), they created a simple-to-use and elegantly designed thermostat that helps people manage their energy use more efficiently.

Frame how you are different than the competition.

“We spend lots of money and time thinking about our coffee and tea products,” says Elayne Crain, the entrepreneur behind Austin Sugarworks, alluding to the current heat around “artisanal” and fair trade beverages. “And then we go and dump a packet of petrochemicals on it.” Her natural sugar products are clearly different than little blue and pink baggies of mass-market sweeteners, and this point of differentiation is a great way to stand out from the competition. Make your difference a key part of the story you tell.

Add the personal touch.

Great stories -- ones that keep people on the edge of their seats -- usually feature a strong protagonist with a personal quest. If your business has such a backstory, be sure to use it. Behind the fabulous success of niche pet foods company Stella and Chewy's is founder Marie Moody's original commitment to her sickly shelter rescue dog. Motivated by the belief that great food translates into healthy pets, Moody went after a unique way to manufacture wholesome raw and freeze-dried food and treats. Your story may have a great hook -- use it! Find more storytelling tips here.

Build in room to tweak.

Finally, make sure your killer elevator pitch can be tweaked to suit your surroundings. When you are in the room, read your audience's body language and try to intuit their background. Ask questions if you can. Always be mindful of where your audience is coming from, what they value and how you can connect to their pain points. Tweaking your killer elevator pitch on the fly to suit the specific needs of your audience is one way to make sure your hook will keep them coming back for more. If you're feeling tongue-tied, check out our tips for new public speakers.

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