How to write an elevator pitch for your business

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner or just getting started, an elevator pitch is an absolute necessity. From networking events to casual conversations, having an elevator pitch in your back pocket can help you quickly summarize your business to potential customers or investors. When it comes to creating your speech, remember it’s all about making an impression. Here’s a guide to help you write a winning elevator pitch, including examples and advice on what not to do. And if you are looking for someone to lend an ear, our Trusted Advisors are here to help.

What is an elevator pitch? And when should you use it?

But first – what exactly is an elevator pitch? In simple terms, an elevator pitch (also known as an elevator speech) is a brief, persuasive statement you can use to introduce yourself and your business. You should be able to recite it in less than 30 seconds, briefly summarizing your work or business and sparking an interest in learning more. Many use elevator pitches at networking events, career fairs, conferences or any place where potential customers, investors, vendors or business partners might be present.

In short, an elevator pitch is your ready-made answer to the classic “So, what do you do?” question. It should be so compelling that whomever you’re chatting with is prepared to hire you, invest in your business, or buy your products. It’s a professional introduction, and a way to hook powerful people who can help your business grow.

Even though it may seem intimidating, writing an elevator pitch is easy when you follow this step-by-step method.

Stage 1: Research

To sell yourself and your business, first you need a complete understanding of your product or service, your company’s identity, and what sets you apart. Here’s a guide to get you started:

1. Consider what makes your product or service unique

It’s easy to fall back on blanket statements and generic overviews when describing your products and services but to really wow people, you need to dig a little deeper.

For example, let’s say you’re opening a specialty grocery store. If potential customers or investors ask what you do, rather than responding that you simply "sell food", draw out the details of what makes your business stand out. Maybe your specialty grocery store sells artisanal cheeses from local dairy farms and organic, locally-grown vegetables. These little specifics make your business unique, and uniquely successful.

Though every business has an origin story worth telling, keep it short and sweet for your elevator pitch. Pull out key specifics and attention-grabbing offerings to engage your listener. And whenever possible, show value rather than just listing products or services.

Ask yourself a few key questions:

- Why is your product unique? Is it rare, unbeatably priced, or technologically superior?

- What makes your company stand out? Is it time-tested, innovative, or award-winning?

- What makes your service special? Does it solve a problem in a unique way? Is it extra convenient?

2. Think about who is listening and what you want them to take away

An effective elevator pitch motivates the listener to act decisively by speaking to their specific needs. You not only need to understand your products and services, but you also need to understand and articulate how they ease prospects’ pain points.

That’s why it’s important to keep your listener in mind when pitching your business. If they’re a potential investor, your speech should prompt them to invest. If they’re a prospective customer, they should want to visit your website or make a purchase.

So whether you make minor tweaks on the fly or prepare a handful of different pitches to suit specific audiences, it pays to prepare. When writing an elevator pitch, it’s also important to consider what you want the listener to do after hearing your speech. What action do you want them to take?

If your audience is a consumer, your speech should inspire them to visit your business, request a quote, or promote your product or service. But if you’re speaking to an investor or mentor figure, your elevator pitch should inspire them to schedule a meeting with you, offer advice, or invest in your business. Knowing what you want out of your pitch guides the writing process, helping you choose your angle wisely.

3. Start writing

Now that you know what makes your business unique, which product/service high points to highlight, and who your audience is, it’s time to start writing!

A strong elevator pitch includes six essential elements:

1. Your name and title

2. Your business name

3. Your products or services

4. Your customer base

5. Your unique selling point

6. A call to action

Your listener needs to know who you are, what you do, what sets you apart, and why they should care. To grab their attention, use simple, direct language. Steer clear of jargon, acronyms and overly technical language. Be sure to include any data points that support your statements.

Stage 2: Delivery

You’ve written a pitch-perfect speech – now it’s time to deliver it. Here are some tips on how to prepare:

1. Time yourself

The average elevator pitch should be short enough to keep your listener engaged but long enough to make your points. The goal is :30 seconds, but anywhere between :20 to :60 seconds is considered a good range.

Before you pitch your business to the pros, practice it with family, friends, co-workers, and anyone else who can lend an ear. Get them to time it for you, and make adjustments as needed to keep it concise.

2. Practice makes perfect

While it may feel silly, practicing your pitch in front of a mirror can help you in a number of ways. It can help you hone your confidence, perfect your facial movements, ace your timing and get comfortable maintaining good eye contact.

3. Enunciate

When delivering your pitch, be sure to maintain a good speaking pace and tone. Practice using a natural cadence and be sure to enunciate well so your audience can clearly understand you.

4. Keep it conversational

A truly great salesperson never sounds like they’re trying to sell something. So, when delivering your elevator pitch, remember to keep things conversational. Not only will this put your listener at ease, making them more receptive when you deliver your call to action, but it will also facilitate easy conversation afterward.

An easy way to check yourself is to record your pitch. Listen for repeated words or awkward phrases, and cut out anything that sounds too salesy or pushy. Remember to keep your pitch and your delivery professional and approachable.

5. Allow your personality to shine through

When pitching, remember to be yourself and let your passion for your business shine through. Don't worry about memorizing your pitch word-for-word, as that can often lead to it sounding canned and inauthentic. Instead, focus on getting your main points across while projecting an upbeat, professional demeanor.

6. If at first you don’t succeed, try again

If after a few tries you feel like your pitching isn't quite hitting the mark, try making some tweaks. It may take a few versions to get it right, and that's ok. Just keep working at it, and don't be afraid to seek outside advice to help you get it just right.

Relationship banking for businesses of any size

Writing a compelling elevator pitch is an absolute must for any business, especially if you’re just starting out. Not only will it help you build confidence and fine-tune your brand, but it can also help you sell your idea to customers, investors, or employees. If you have any questions about small business financials, Origin's Trusted Advisors are here to help you turn your small business dreams into a reality. Explore small business financing options and make progress toward growth with a business loan or line of credit. Learn more at Origin.Bank and connect with an Origin Trusted Advisor in your area.