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:
- Compelling value
- Social proof
- 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.
- 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.