An Era Of Distraction

If you have an interest in marketing, you’ve probably heard the term “elevator pitch” on at least one occasion. It’s a short, compelling summary of a business which sums up exactly what it does – and exactly how it’s useful to a prospective client.

In the fast-paced world brought about by modern technology, it’s also one of the most essential marketing tools in any small business owner’s arsenal.

“The current generation of Internet consumers,” writes The Guardian’s Rob Weatherhead, citing a study by Pew; “live in a world of ‘instant gratification and quick fixes,’ which leads to a ‘loss of patience and a lack of deep thinking.’”

Let me put that another way. A recent study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that the average human attention span has dropped by 33% since 2000 – from twelve seconds to eight seconds. To add some perspective, goldfish have an attention span of approximately nine seconds.

The result of this loss of attention, the study explains, is all of the external stimuli we’re constantly subjected to. At any given moment in time, we could be receiving information from hundreds (or even thousands) of different sources. It’s not surprising that we’d start to check out – we’re living in the age of information overload.

This is exactly why elevator pitches are so integral to the success of a small business. These days, if you don’t get your message out the door right away, you probably won’t get it out at all. People aren’t going to bother with your pitch – they’ll either get bored or distracted.

So, now that you understand why you need an elevator pitch…how do you craft one?

The Art Of The Elevator Pitch

“Elevator pitches should,” according to MindTools, “be interesting, memorable, and succinct. They also need to explain what makes you – or your organization, product, or idea – unique.” That might seem like kind of a tall order, but it really isn’t – provided you know your organization’s vision, mission, and unique selling point.

If you have a clear idea of what your business is and does, then devising an elevator pitch is actually pretty easy. All you really need to do from there is describe your business, with a focus on how it’s valuable to the person you’re addressing (a pitch to an executive would be different from a pitch to a consumer). If, for example, you design a line of ergonomic office furniture, your pitch could go something like this:

“My company designs custom-made furniture for the office. This allows employees to work in greater comfort, and with a lot more efficiency as a result.”

Follow that up with an open-ended question to keep the other party interested, and that’s it – you’ve created your first elevator pitch.

Short, Sweet, And Simple

We’re living in an era of instant gratification and instant access to terabytes of information. In order for your company’s marketing message to break through the white noise created by such a climate, you need to come out strong the moment you start talking. You need to pull your customers and partners in immediately – otherwise, you’re not going to catch their attention at all.

Image credit: Steve Snodgrass