How to Make Potential Customers Fall In Love With You in 30 Seconds

Elevator pitch. If I hear someone say “I am a life coach!” in their elevator pitch one more time, I swear I’m going to go all Homer Simpson and throttle them around the neck.

Let me explain. You see, I go to a lot of networking events…and I meet a whole lot of people. Unfortunately, 99% of those people are completely forgettable. That’s a problem, because when you go to a networking event, you really want it to be profitable for you. But how can it be profitable when no one remembers who you are and what you do?

The 30-second “elevator pitch” is an art. It’s designed to get people to ask you more information about your business or about you. It’s designed for you to quickly be able to whittle down the room into potential customers and everyone else, and focus your energy on scoring a customer or two–thus making your time spent at the networking event insanely profitable.

Here’s a quick peek into the art of crafting your 30-second pitch and quickly turning yourself into one of the most memorable people in the room.

Rule #1: Never Start with “I”.

Here’s a trade secret that many public speakers use: Never open with “I”. This especially applies if you go to an event where the organizer asks everyone to stand up and introduce themselves. Let’s face it, after 20 people mumbling about their businesses, the room is half asleep. Your mission? To snap them out of their trances and get them listening.

When introducing yourself to a group of more than 10 people, especially if you’re not the first person to do an introduction, always start with a question. Your goal is twofold: 1) Get people to pay attention. 2) Quickly figure out who your potential customers are.

To pull this off, you have to know some of the deepest desires of your potential customers. (Hint: Their deepest desire isn’t to get life coaching. So scratch out “Who’s interested in being coached?” as a question!)

I start out with a simple question: “How many of you are interested in getting more traffic to your website?” And then–as a cue–I raise my right hand and look closely at everyone else in the room.

You’ll notice some reactions when you do this. Some people will grin and raise their hands. Others will slowly raise their hands as they come out of their trance. Others, already lost to their Blackberry addictions, will not be paying attention to you.

Then comes the fun part: Ask a second question–an analog to the first. If I spot someone on a Blackberry, for instance, I may say this: “Okay, how many of you are NOT interested in getting traffic to their website?” Some smart alecks may raise their hands. (That’s a win! You’ve identified people who aren’t potential customers.) As I ask it–and raise my hand on cue again–I’ll stare hard at the Crackberry addict. This has the effect of turning the whole audience on him.

Guess what? 99% of the time, the Blackberry goes in his pocket and he looks up sheepishly. Congratulations! You now have the rapt attention of the entire room.

Rule #2: The Three “Must-Have” Elements of Your Pitch

Your 30-second pitch needs to contain these elements:

  1. Compelling value
  2. Social proof
  3. A call to action

Sounds kind of like writing a sales letter, doesn’t it? I concede that 30-second pitches may be even more difficult. You have to quickly identify your business’s most compelling value proposition and present it.

Here’s my pitch (remember, this is after you’ve asked the first question and then the second, opposite question):

“Great! Thank you. My name is Erica Douglass and I run a popular business blog. I also run a service called Whoosh Traffic that helps you get more traffic to your website. I started Whoosh Traffic after using my own service to rank my blog #1 in Google for the keyphrase how to make money blogging. If you would like to get more traffic to your website, please come find me. I’m happy to talk to you more about it!”

Now, I’ll show it to you again, with the social proof highlighted in red and the call to action highlighted in blue:

“Great! Thank you. My name is Erica Douglass and I run a popular business blog. I also run a service called Whoosh Traffic that helps you get more traffic to your website. I started this business after using my own service to rank my blog #1 in Google for the keyphrase how to make money blogging. If you would like to get more traffic to your website, please come find me. I’m happy to talk to you more about it!”

Rule #3: Hone Your Pitch by Watching Audience Reactions

As I say my pitch, I watch the audience. I’m looking for a reaction–and I’m most interested in surprise reactions, as they mean the person is listening and is more likely to remember me.

The best reaction is when someone asks “How did you do that?”, “How does that work?” or “Can you do that for me?” That’s the verbal equivalent of an opt-in. If you give a 30-second pitch and people come up to you afterward, you have achieved the desired effect.

Quality matters more than quantity. If your best customers are hairdressers who are working part-time and want to work full-time, say that! Don’t be afraid to narrow down a room of 50+ people to just one potential customer…especially if you offer a high-value service.

I’ve tweaked several elements of my pitch. I tested several different versions of the social proof element (different keywords I rank well for with my blog) before settling on showing that I’m ranked #1 for how to make money blogging. The most common reaction I get is “Wow! That’s a popular keyword!” I’ve actually used Whoosh Traffic to rank well for keywords with more search volume, but this keyword is more well-recognized and gets a better reaction when I say it.

I also changed “a blog about starting and growing your own business” to “a popular business blog” recently. The word “popular” generates more interest.

A key of changing your elevator pitch is watching people’s facial expressions carefully as you speak it. With practice, you will learn to tell exactly which words or phrases tune them out. Practice every word of your pitch, and tweak constantly. Try new things. You have very little to lose and a whole lot to gain.

By designing your elevator pitch first with two questions, then using the three elements above, you will be far more memorable. In fact, I went to three marketing/business conferences recently, and at each of the three conferences I had someone follow up with me asking about Whoosh Traffic. (Imagine–not even having to follow up with 50 people after the event who ask you, “Who are you, again?”)

In each case, we signed a new customer–effortlessly! All three customers are “heavy hitters”, too; in fact, those three customers alone plus their referrals may mean $8,000/month or more of income for Whoosh Traffic.

That’s the power of a great pitch. Please–use my template. It works for me; it will work for just about anyone. It will definitely make your next networking event a lot more exciting…and profitable!

Want to drive more traffic to your site? Check out Whoosh Traffic, and feel free to email me (erica AT erica dot biz) if you’re interested in using our service and have a question.

Recommended Reading:

  • How to Read a Person Like a Book. I don’t have any natural ability to read facial cues, and used to find it difficult to understand what people were communicating with body language. This book turned it into a system for me and made understanding people a lot easier. If you’re a “systems thinker” like me and have a hard time reading people, pick this book up. It will be well worth it.
  • Are Your Business Cards Still Stuck In The 1990’s? Your business cards need to be more memorable, too. Here’s how I changed mine so I get a lot more followups.
  • How I Tripled My Blog’s Traffic in Two Months. This is a great post from early 2008, when I was just getting started with my blog. In it, I show how I jump-started my blog’s popularity.
  • Shriram Gangadharan Ayyar

    Brilliant and concise post.

  • Shelly Cone

    Wonderful. Love the part about asking questions first. It really is a pattern disrupt. Did you attend the David Risely/Nathan Hagen panel at BlogWorld? I attended and wanted to meet you afterward but missed you (wasn’t sure if it was you). Next time!

  • Karen Tiede

    Just-in-time post!

    Going to a big (twice-a-year) networking event tonight. Will test this approach out. Just released my product yesterday, so I have something tangible to talk about.


  • Justin

    Great post. I was in a networking group when I lived in Altanta, and at the start of each weekly meetinf we got to give a 30 second introduction about our business. While I didnt follow this format exactly I always ended my intro with a call to action…soemthign as simple as “see me after words and I’d be gald to talk with you” or “call me to talk about your next project”

  • Jack

    Wow, so powerful pitch from a powerful lady!

  • Chuck Dymer – Brilliance Activator

    Erica has put into a simple post what others have needed a book to get across. Well done and a challenge to all of us small business owners to work on a key aspect of our business success. Thanks, Erica.

  • David H.

    Interested to know how you modify your 30 second pitch for more of a group of 4 people or less rather than to a group of >10. Do you still start with a question?

  • Diane

    Hi Erica
    This is a great post. This could really work well to introduce your self to a group or an individual especially with the 2 questions.

    I would like to practise with the group, if I may by trying the following 2 questions and how would you respond to them:-
    1. Who loves driving round town at this time of year to do Christmas shopping for staff and clients?
    2. Who wouldn’t like to have your wrapped Christmas gifts either delivered directly to your staff and clients door or to your door ready for you to distribute them?

    Have I picked up sufficiently on your hints, to have parphrased them well?

    I love the way that you’ve used opposites for your questions about getting more website traffic for people using social proof and then your simple pitch about how you would love to help others get more traffic. That is a very subtle call to action.

    I really enjoyed this 2 Rules effective post, and thanks for sharing these invaluable ideas with us.

    • Erica Douglass

      Hi Diane,

      I would phrase it more as “How many of you have to buy Christmas gifts for your staff at the office?” I’d focus on the business side since that’s generally more profitable (business owners are more conscious of spending time running errands and also are willing to pay more to outsource this.) Then follow up with “How many of you would like all the work of picking out, purchasing, and wrapping Christmas gifts done for you by people who know how to pick awesome gifts?” That’s interesting. I might be willing to hear more about that.

      The “How many of you…” phrasing is important here. It gets the audience engaged.


    • Diane

      Thanks Erica
      I really love your suggestions, and sometimes its much easier when you’re looking into someone else’s business than your own. I’m so glad that you pointed out those “4” little words at the beginning, as I had missed them completely.

  • Anne M.

    Great post! Thanks for generously sharing what you have learned from experience.

  • Beth Hayden

    Erica – Whoosh traffic looks great, but I don’t see a way to sign up. I go to the “Plans and Pricing” page, which looks fine, and then when I hit Sign Up it just takes me back to the home page. Am I missing something? I’m definitely interested in signing up! Thanks, Beth

    • Erica Douglass

      Hi Beth,

      Thanks for letting me know! We just fixed this, so we’re ready for you to sign up now. :)


  • Victoria

    Wow! That was fabulous! Thank you. I’m defifntely revamping my intro and thanks for a fabulous blog!

  • J$

    This might be my favorite post from you ever :) Making it a point this weekend to get ours ready for Love Drop… you rock!

  • Mark

    Hi Erica,

    Great post! How do you decide the pricing for Woosh Traffic services? Last time I checked, the price per month was US$79 and now it is US$97, and the number of backlinks has dropped from 100 to 80?

    Are you planning to increase your prices further?



    • Erica Douglass

      Hi Mark,

      Yep, the price is going to go up again next week to $129. We’re upping it regularly. At the $79 level we were basically break-even, and we had about 20 people come in at that rate. At $97 I would call the service “barely profitable.” The next step is $129, where we will be nicely profitable, and we may go even higher (or just start pushing the higher-end plans) when we introduce an affiliate program later this year.


  • Jacklin Octave

    Hello Erica,

    Woaw! That’s so genius. Thanks for sharing this great information with me, and i am glad that i was able to read your email and get to your blog right away.

    I have been so busy lately, and didn’t have much time to stop by. I look so forward to getting more tips from you.

    Stay blessed!

    It’s time to implement your tips!!

  • Dean Fitzpatrick

    Thanks for the post Erica! The networking events I’ve attended thus far have been fairly underwhelming. You’ve helped me realize that I’m more responsible for that than I originally thought. My impression remains that people at these events generally are more concerned with selling their own product or service as opposed to establishing a mutually beneficial RELATIONSHIP. Again, just my experience…

  • Lauren

    Wow, I found this post really interesting, and I think it can be applicable for other things besides networking events. Basically anytime you’re trying to sell something or persuade someone, this could help. Thanks!

  • Pablo Sanchez

    Congratulations on getting Whoosh Traffic launched Erica. Hope it becomes a huge success.


  • Graham Trevor

    Hi Erica,
    Great idea! Could see a similar pitch used on business cards or in ads. As people’s attention usually gets grabbed in the first ten seconds.

  • Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion

    Really appreciate you breaking down your 30 sec pitch here Erica. I’d like to think of myself as a great communicator but notwithstanding, this is a subject I need to lend more attention to, and improve what I’m currently doing. Thanks!

  • Saif

    Nice post. In dead it is difficult to attract the attention of customers. But why it is so?

  • Temi

    I will definitely be using this at my next networking meeting. It captures the “What’s In It for Me” which should be the basis of any marketing attempt.

  • Rich

    THIS is how to really give an elevator pitch, Erica…
    (Warning bad language alert)

  • Lani Kee – Mind Mapping Techniques

    Aloha Erica, you’re very thorough and extensive with your valuable content. You word it well with your laid out content here and enjoyed every word of it. I may consider checking out your Whoosh traffic recommendation. We all can use traffic, just finding what works, makes a huge difference. Thanks for sharing! :)

    PS..feel free to come by and visit me. Mahalo!

  • Jay

    Another great post, can’t believe that I missed reading it last week. :)

    As someone who has just launched another site, it is def. about setting yourself a part and having something that’ll grab their attention.

    I find that true passion is generally accepted amongst people too. They want to listen to someone who is genuinely passionate about their topic. This sets it apart from those who are passionate about just making the money. What will you do with it? Why do you want it?

    Thanks for the reminder,