“If you can’t explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough.”
When you have 30 seconds to explain your business, you need to do it simply. I’ve heard many elevator pitches; the vast majority falls flat from a lack of passion or by drastically blowing past the 30-second mark with too much information. When I ask most young entrepreneurs I meet to explain their business in 30 seconds (which is essentially the elevator pitch), most can’t, either in 30 seconds of speech or written word.
I always wonder why. Entrepreneurs know their business better than anybody else; they‘ve thought through every facet of it; and they are passionate. Still, entrepreneurs tend to push people away within 30 seconds of explaining their business. So how does that correlate to future sales, interest from investors, or customer feedback? Entrepreneurs who are unable to simplify their elevator pitch should be concerned.
Below I’ve distilled my own thoughts down to three points that should significantly help you improve your elevator pitch quality.
Explain it like I’m five. The value of explaining your business to a five-year-old is that if you know a child can understand it, you’re essentially making your elevator pitch universally understood. Intelligence is not a common denominator; someone could be more or less intelligent than you, so do not attempt to move up or move down the brain scale to match your audience. Rather, explain your elevator pitch like shapes and colors. Green triangle and blue square make a lot more sense than automated marketing customer relation software for the end-to-end fintech API solution provider, right? Explain your pitch to everyone like they are five because you have time to elaborate and get technical with the follow-up questions.
Put yourself on the other side of the table. When you are pitching elevator-style to a new person, think about how it is being received before saying it. If I tell you that I am going to drastically improve the ROI on your outbound sales by publishing content-driven design decisions across your entire organization by leveraging my SaaS graphic design platform, do you feel intrigued? Whether it is a business software platform or a mobile app, the feeling is the same. Think about how your own message would be received if it was delivered to you; if you feel comfortable and receptive, even excited, great, you are probably beyond the advice in this blog.
Quit trying to butter me up. Let’s be clear: you aren’t going to get me to invest in your product in 30 seconds, so stop trying to make the elevator pitch the climax of your story. Your goal is not to convince me I should invest, or become a client, or partner with your business; the goal is to let me know exactly what you do in the shortest amount of time possible. Taking into account the first point, the elevator pitch isn’t about your fancy algorithms or defensible intellectual property, it is imperative information. The phrase “go grab lunch, I’m hungry” leads to more questions, while the phrase “go grab a Reuben from Diamond Deli” does not (my twin brother, Jack, came up with that one). Tell someone about your Reuben, not that you’re hungry.
These three points should help you simplify your elevator pitch. Finally, remember to keep it under 30 seconds; assume the other party is truly busy and doesn’t have the time or interest to hear the seven-minute spiel about your groundbreaking, revolutionary company.
The more you understand your startup and your audience, the easier it will be to keep your explanations simple.