Three Steps to a 15-second Elevator Speech

I was cleaning up my office today, and I came across a Forbes article and video that really impressed upon me the importance of cleaning up our brand pitch to market to customers.  Our messaging becomes a little bit like my office.  Crammed with things that were important at the time but have hung around too long.  Impossible to relate to anyone in less than minute.

I love the simplicity of being able to explain your business in one succinct phrase that differentiates you from your competition.  Clean, Compelling, Concise.

So in the spirit of cleaning up our brands, here are some steps to create your elevator speech:

Step One.  Create a Twitter-friendly headline that answers the question, “What is the single most important thing that I want my listener to know about my brand, product, service or idea?”  Now this is excellent advice because if you can’t explain it in 140 characters, I probably can’t absorb it in 15 seconds.  This exercise forces you to practice the art of sacrifice for the purpose of communication.  A great headline will also give voice to differentiation and end benefits.  Here are some great examples in addition to the video.

The USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families.

Wal-Mart saves people money to they can live better.

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

Coca-Cola wants to refresh the world, inspire moments of optimism and happiness, and create value.

AT&T wants to to connect people with their world, everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else.

Starbucks is out to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time.

Tom’s says we’re transforming everyday purchases into a force for good around the world. One for One.®

Step Two.  Support the headline with three key benefits.  Three is the perfect number.  For some reason, our minds can remember three ideas, but struggles with more.  The Power of Three.  As a child, everything we learned seemed to be centered around three — A,B,C; 1,2,3; Three blind mice, Three musketeers, Trinity, and the three wise men.  Aristotle even knew the power of three and wrote about it in his book Rhetoric.  So what are the three most compelling support ideas for your brand.

Step Three.  Reinforce the three benefits with stories, statistics or examples.  These are the bullet points that more fully explain your benefits.  And yes, all of it should fit on a single page.

I use this type of process in getting to the core identity of brands for clients. When you look back at the examples used in step one, you see that the USO doesn’t say it runs centers for troops, Wal-Mart doesn’t talk about physical stores, and Google doesn’t talk about search engines.  Your business must be explained in such a consumer beneficial manner that it allows you the bandwidth to provide that benefit in a variety of ways.  That’s why Starbucks doesn’t say it is a coffee shop; they have always explained themselves as the third place in your life – after home and work.

Try this exercise for your business.  Let me know how it goes.

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