Your Personal Elevator Pitch

April 24, 2008

Posted in Small Business and Web Industry.

I tell clients the most important thing they can put on their homepage is their elevator pitch. As most of my clients are academics with little or no business background, they usually don’t know what this means.

You’ve stepped onto an elevator and you realize there’s a potential [customer | investor | donor] next to you. He turns to you and says, “so what do you do?” You have maybe six floors to ride up the elevator before the conversation ends. So you have maybe 20 seconds to tell your story, pique his interest, or otherwise sell yourself.

With your website, like the casual interactions we have while networking, you get mere seconds to engage a new visitor before she bounces. Those seconds will be spent scanning wildly – glancing around your page to try and make some sense of things and decide whether it’s worth her time to stay any longer. (Aside: is this not like meeting people in a bar? hmm… future post idea.)

The elevator pitch is short and sweet. It’s informative, engaging, and relevant. It’s driven by value and hints of action.

And it’s really hard to make.

Many organizations have a mission statement. They might have a vision statement. There’s no shortage of descriptive copy about your company’s who, what, why, etc. But almost every one of these statements is ridiculously long. Hundreds of words. At least a couple of paragraphs. Sometimes pages of text.

Throw them all away and write one sentence. Maybe two, if it’s earth shattering. Try it.

It’s hard to distill so much into a single sentence, especially when you have a wide range of products or services. So start by creating an elevator pitch for your own job. What do you do?

My elevator pitch to clients when they ask what I do: “I keep projects on time, on track, and on budget.” (I’m a web project manager at Notre Dame.)

Maybe I should start an elevator blog.