Last week, I had the pleasure of speaking at an event supporting women business owners. The topic was building an effective elevator pitch, but as often happens, discussion wandered a bit to include networking, honing your business model, getting customer feedback and even confidence. At the end of the session, I asked the audience to drop an index card up front if they had questions or challenges we didn't get to. They had some good ones! There are a few below, and I'll follow up with more next week.
Q: I struggle with my elevator pitch. I’m not one to toot my own horn, and don’t want to sound phony or conceited.
A: This type of question gets asked a lot (even among our small group, this came up on the question cards four times!). Women especially are hesitant to talk about what they’re good at, worried that they will come off as arrogant or unfriendly (the recent bestseller “The Confidence Code” has some great information on this). Make a list of the benefits of the product or service your business provides, and pick three that are most compelling to your customers or most different from your competition. Start with these benefits when talking about the results you achieve for your customers. If you don’t talk about the value of the work that you offer, who will? And if you truly believe in your business and serving your customers, you are not being phony or conceited, you are being authentic.
Q: I’m struggling with getting my unique business out there, I don’t think people understand what I do!
A: YOU know your business, but your potential customers might not. This can be frustrating, but it’s up to you to talk about your business in a way that is clear and relatable. There are a few things I’d recommend to make sure people understand what you do: 1) work on better articulating your value – what is it that makes your solution different than what is out there currently? 2) find a relatable comparison – is your business like X but with Y? 3) ask more questions – if someone looks confused or seems like they don't understand what you’re talking about, ask them why. Let them tell you what part feels unclear, and what they need explained. It’s not up to THEM to understand, it’s up to YOU to make it understandable.
Q: How can I make my pitch “modular”, so that I can adjust it for different situations?
A: Picture a line of train cars on a track, each car labeled with which part of your pitch is inside: introduction, origin story, problem, solution, benefits, distribution, team, financials, ask, etc. Making your pitch “modular” means that you can start with a basic pitch and adjust the train cars based on your audience. Speaking to a customer? Include more solution and benefits. A funder? Insert the financials. A group of volunteers? Remove the financials and play up the origin story. The goal of your pitch is to be clear and give the listener what they need. A modular pitch helps you do that. What helps you get comfortable making your pitch modular? Practice.