In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out how to apply many of the lessons presented at the Etsy success symposium. There was a lot of great information, but one thing that I found myself coming back to again and again was one of the simplest: The 30 second “elevator pitch” that almost every speaker mentioned.
(photo by flickr user will*refuse)
I know I’m not the only one who makes the mistake of figuring that if someone wants to know what you do, they’ll ask. Beyond that, we’re all just so inundated with marketing pressure and social media promotion that sometimes I get paralyzed with the fear of being just another spammer on the long list of people who get quietly ignored.
However, real life is different, and an elevator pitch is especially crucial if you make something you can wear or carry that people might notice and ask you about. I was never a Boy Scout, but their motto (Be Prepared!) is a really good one in this instance.
That said, I started looking and asking around about people’s “Elevator Pitches” and really thought about what the successful ones had in common. Here’s what I’ve found so far:
The most successful pitches all seemed to start by focusing on their customer’s problems, and followed up with how their product or service solves those problems.
For instance, one pitch I listened to talked about how people might really want to be more adventurous and locally supportive of their food choices, but were nervous about making expensive mistakes or not knowing where to find really good options. The solution was an “underground” food market where subscribers could pay a small fee to come discover and sample a wide range of options.
The best thing about this pitch was that she actually had TWO. The other one was aimed at local gardeners, bakers and chefs who wanted to get their produce and creations out to the public, but couldn’t afford the code requirements of public kitchens and/or didn’t want to commit to making huge batches of anything. The solution was to vend at this underground market where small tastes could be provided to a wide range of potential customers.
The least successful one, on the other hand, was one that honestly sounded a lot like my own. “I make jewelry”. That was it, just a “what”, not a “why”. My reaction to it was probably pretty typical, which was basically NO reaction, because there was simply nothing to lead me to want to know more. What an eye opener!
Even with that simple lead in, the woman could have still drawn me in if she’d talked about why she made jewelry and what made hers different. Was she successful? What drew her to the craft? Was anything she had on of her own design? Who knows?!
What a wasted opportunity that was, and what a lesson I learned from it. I’ve vowed to be more prepared with something more like the first example, and here are the steps I laid out for myself in order to come up with a pitch I felt more comfortable delivering:
1. define the problem I solve with my craft
2. articulate why my solution is unique
3. always carry something with me in case the person I’m speaking to wants to know more
I’ve got the pitch mostly down, and now I’m working on practicing it.
I’m still the sort of person who has a hard time speaking out to a stranger, but I’m working on it! In the meantime, bits of this same pitch can be used in lots of other places. Have to write a bio for a website or proposal, or even your facebook fan page? Use the pitch! I’ve even heard about people printing them on the otherwise-empty backs of their business cards.
How about you guys? What’s your pitch? Any tips for the shy-er ones among us? What other places do you use your pitch?