Boiling Down Your Business: The Elevator Pitch

Boiling Down Your Business: The Elevator Pitch

The “elevator pitch.” Every business owner has struggled with the same challenge: how do you boil down your business in two or three sentences? Whether you’re speaking to in-laws or potential customers, the question remains the same: “So, what do you do?”  If only given a couple seconds to explain your livelihood, where do you start?

Here are a few suggestions to perfect your 30-second pitch:



Be brief and precise. Poetry is remarkable for compacting deep meaning into text despite overwhelming constraints. Your pitch follows the same principle and is facing just as strict limitations. The challenge is simplifying your product and service experience. Humans have nearly the same attention span as goldfish, around eight to ten seconds. For context, a ten second speech is approximately 20 to 25 words—less time than it takes to read this paragraph out loud.

Humans have nearly the same attention span as goldfish, around eight to ten seconds.

Summarize, but stand out. The phrase “like you’re talking to a 5-year-old” comes to mind. The same pitch should work for industry titans and high school students. The key is to differentiate your product. Your business is unique from your competitors — clarify this difference and highlight it. Does your product allow greater functionality or efficiency? Do you produce the same product at a better price? Is your quality control far more advanced than your competitors? These simple questions are what potential customers are thinking.

Your pitch isn’t a story. Stories can take a long time to arrive to the tagline. Elevator pitches don't afford you that time. Your few sentences will not tell your story, nor should they. Rather, they will give your audience a sense of the experience you’re offering and the products you produce. Keep focused and be action-oriented. In short, if your pitch contains the phrases, “I had an idea,” or “it all started in…,” then a narrative has already begun and the pitch is lost.  

Describe results, not processes. An elevator pitch is not a new employee training session—the ins and outs of your distribution and production strategy are unnecessary. The objective is provoking the follow up question of, “how do you do that?” or “how do can you deliver at that price?”. Marketers and salesmen call this “the hook.” If your audience’s questions are guiding the conversation, you’ve already won.

At the end of the day, you know your business best. Boiling down who you are and what you do into a couple sentences can be challenging, but these guidelines are a good place to start.