As a the sole-proprietor of a marketing firm, I am frequently asked, “What exactly do you do at Richardson Media Group?” Seems like a fairly simple query, deserving of a direct answer, but I’ve found I’m having some trouble assembling my elevator pitch. Lately I’ve been saying, “I am a marketing consultant offering strategic solutions to a wide range of businesses.” However I’m not particularly satisfied with that answer nor do I feel it adequately encompasses my full range of expertise and experience or that extra spark I bring to my work.
At a recent networking event, a friend and fellow business owner overheard my lukewarm pitch and immediately jumped in to add some much-needed color. She generously gushed, “Anne’s a brilliant marketing genius and a goddess of communications!” What a contrast to my mundane summary! Clearly I have some work to do to find the balance between the technical answer and the passionate commitment I feel towards my craft.
The challenge I’m finding when I attempt to condense a description of my services into a neat little box lies in the fact that the term, “marketing” can be defined in so many different ways. The public’s perceptions of the marketing industry are extremely diverse, and are based primarily on their personal experience as consumers and whether or not they watched Mad Men on a regular basis. Marketing stereotypes abound!
Let’s be honest, marketing surrounds us and the references are not always positive. That phone call during dinner saying you “won” a free cruise to the Bahamas is marketing. The man ringing your doorbell to offer you solar panels is marketing. All the advertising, direct mail, broadcast, print and digital media we consume on a daily basis falls under the umbrella of marketing, not to mention those two enormous cyber-spaces of social media and shared content. With this daily bombardment of messaging, it’s easy to see why people are easily overwhelmed and confused by the title.
To prove this point, I did a quick Google search on “What is marketing?” Not surprisingly, Google handed me over a million results. A few samples from well-known resources on page one are:
“Marketing is what you say and how you say it when you want to explain how awesome your product is and why people should buy it.” ~ Forbes.com
“Marketing is communicating the value of a product, service or brand to customers, for the purpose of promoting or selling that product, service, or brand.”
“Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
This third definition, vetted by the American Marketing Association, is the one I relate to most closely. I like that it includes a number of action verbs accurately conveying the energy and skill that goes into the marketing process.
OK, I have a definition. Now, how might this translate into my company’s elevator pitch?
According to the Small Business Administration, every elevator pitch should include the following components:
- Who am I?
- What business/field/industry am I in?
- What group of people do I service? In what capacity do I serve?
- Why is my business/product or service better than the rest?
- What makes me different from the competition?
- What benefits do I offer my customers?
This is functional advice, but I’m looking to jazz mine up a bit, to make it more compelling and help my business stand out from the pack. I believe my well-meaning colleague was on the right track when she referred to me as a “communications goddess” but I hope to find a slightly toned-down version that carries an equivalent punch.
- Don’t lead with an introduction. Find a more interesting way to start your pitch.
- Use an emotional appeal. Think about the needs your business is trying to address. What emotions go along with those needs?
- Add something strange (or memorable). What makes your business stand apart from all the rest?
- Have some facts ready. Be prepared to prove your expertise.
- Get your prospect involved in a dialogue. Try to engage your prospect; don’t just ramble on about yourself.
- Don’t over-rehearse. Let your natural conversation skills guide your pitch.
Girded by this advice, I’m in the process of testing a few options for my newly revised elevator pitch. Somewhere between the obvious marketing buzzwords and an over-inflated claim of “marketing genius” lies a true and convincing description of the real me.