How to Write an Elevator Pitch

What is an elevator pitch anyway?

Image result for elevator pitch funnyAn “elevator pitch” describes your company and what you do in about the time you have to talk to someone on an elevator – 30 seconds to 2 minutes max.  Elevator pitches are critical for conveying very simply who you are as a company to someone who has never heard about you and doesn’t have time to research.

No one, and I mean no one, wants to sit and listen to you drone on about details that don’t affect them and take too long to describe.  Nor do you want to under represent your company by being so succinct that you are leaving out too much critical brand information.  The balance has to be just right.

Aren’t elevator pitches just for sales reps?

You would be shocked at how many marketers I meet who do not know how to write an elevator pitch and have never thought to give one.  I sit beside myself as year after year professional B2B marketers stumble over explaining what value they’re company produces in less than 3 paragraphs.  What the hell are they paying you for?!

So for my own sanity, I thought I would break down how to write a proper elevator pitch.  These steps can be used and reused for any market, industry or company you need to support.

How to write an elevator pitch

An elevator pitch has 3 sections:

  1. What
  2. How
  3. Who

That’s it.  Each section lasts 1-2 sentences max.

What

What is going on in the world that is being meaningfully impacted by your technology, product or service?  This should have several flavors, depending on the markets you serve.  You should have a standard “what” and a custom “what”, which is dictated by the industry or audience your speaking to.

A “standard what” might be, “Managing projects is becoming easier and more collaborative every day from around the world.”

A “custom what” might be, “Marketers are managing projects more easily and with more collaboration every day from around the world.”

As you can see one is fairly generic.  One is specific to the market they’re reaching, in this case marketers who do project management.  Note, this is not the part where you name your company.

How

How explains how the above statement is able to happen.  This is also not the part where you mention the name of your company.

A how statement might sound like, “It’s cloud-based project management software that allows spread out organizations to collaborate so easily, eliminating the need for so many meetings and status updates.”

If you’re thinking this looks a lot like a value prop statement, it is.  The how allows you to back into your value prop without introducing your brand too soon.

Who

Now tell them who you are.

“Smartsheet is one of the largest cloud-based project management platforms in the world, supporting over XXX marketing departments and agencies.”

Put it together.

“Marketers are managing projects more easily and with more collaboration every day from around the world.  It’s cloud-based project management software that allows spread out organizations to collaborate so easily, eliminating the need for so many meetings and status updates.  Smartsheet is one of the largest cloud-based project management platforms in the world, supporting over XXX marketing departments and agencies.”

Please note, Smartsheet has not contacted me in anyway to use them as an example.  I’m just a fan.

How I Use It

At a recent healthcare conference we wanted a refreshed elevator pitch to teach to everyone working the booth.  Everyone was required to learn it, which meant it had to be easy to remember.  Here’s what we came up with:

  1. What: “Healthcare is revolutionizing patient care with everything from accessing online medical records to meeting patients virtually.”
  2. How: “But its bandwidth that’s enabling all this technology”
  3. Who: “Zayo is one of the world’s largest bandwidth providers, supporting hundreds of hospital systems and healthcare organizations.”

 

Now you try.

Inspiration from Smartling

I recently received a prospecting email from Smartling, with a really nicely designed signature line graphic.  The white top makes it look seamless with the email.  I am not attending Adobe Summit, but thought I’d click to see what happens.

The link sent me to a landing page where I could request a meeting.  The landing page was a clean, vertical design with a very short form – two spaces.  Simple.  I had a quick overview of the company and details about their booth.  The landing page also matches the signature graphic, which makes the process feel cohesive and intentional.

Smartling Landing Page

I typed in my personal email to see where it would take me and I got the best marketing error message I’ve seen.  “Please enter your business email address.  This form does not accept addresses from hotmail.com.”

Smartling Error

Finally, when I went to their main website, guess what I found at the top of the page?  Another invitation to book a meeting.  Hard to miss, yet non-intrusive.  Wow.

Meeting Request Banner

Food for thought for anyone looking to drive success through conferences by scheduling meetings with real professionals:

  1. Keep it Simple.
  2. Everything should match and be cohesive.
  3. Maintain a clean email list with validated contacts.

From one B2B marketeer to another, well done Smartling.  Well done.

Know Your Goals: Takeaways from SXSW

Image result for sxsw expo

Zayo recently hosted a series of events at South By Southwest (SXSW), a music, movie and interactive festival held in Austin each year.  SXSW is an over-the-top event, that genuinely takes over the city.

While I was there I wanted to explore the expo floor.  My purpose?  To understand what types of organizations exhibit at SXSW, their goals and if it might be a good option for my organization in the future.

Who was there:

Image result for sxsw expoTo say it was a hodgepodge would be an understatement.  The expo floor contained everything from well-known brands like Lockheed Martin and no-name startups looking to attract investors, to cities and countries trying to attract businesses to move and stand-up desk manufacturers.

My plan of attack:

I worked my way from booth to booth asking if there was a representative from marketing present – which there usually was.  I needed to talk to people who spoke my language and knew where I was coming from.  As Anne Handley would say, “My People”.

I introduced myself and told them why I was there.  Then asked a simple question.  “What is your goal for SXSW?  How do you know if you this event was a success?”

My Shock:

Image result for sxsw expoI spoke to 30 marketers in total.  Of them, only 2 could clearly tell me how they would measure success.  Some were even outraged by the question, citing that hosting a booth with measurable financial goals is ridiculous.

To say the least, I was shocked.  In a decade of marketing, I’ve never seen such disregard for ROI-based metrics.  I honestly have no idea how I would do my job without them.

This is the reason marketers have a bad rap and people think we just spend money.  (see earlier post on topic) A campaign without goals is just work.  At that point you’re just collecting a paycheck to look busy.  What’s the point?!

It my not-so-humble opinion that all marketers should know their metrics inside and out, upside down and backwards.  We should recite our ROI metrics in our sleep.  This is how you earn the trust and respect of an organization.  Not by throwing epic parties, but by explaining why.

I have previously written about the 3 metrics every marketer should know (post).  These metrics will help you answer the “why” question and will earn the respect of the most staunch financier.  Otherwise, don’t learn them and risk getting sideways looks from those that operate the budgets the rest of your career.

Your choice.

Virtual Reality & Marketing: Lessons Learned

Image result for virtual reality cartoon

I’m a huge proponent of the power of video for marketing, especially B2B.  It has the power to transport prospects seamlessly, explain complicated concepts simply and introduce information in an engaging way.  Virtual realty (or VR) takes this to another level.

HIMSS is the quintessential healthcare technology conference held in spring each year.  My company supports over 500 healthcare organizations globally, so it was a clear spot for us to have a booth and host meetings.  This year we debuted our virtual reality experience for HIMSS attendees, showcasing our Network Control Center, our Ashburn data center and taking guests on a journey through the internet itself.

Given that VR is a new conversation for most of us in B2B marketing, I thought I would share some of the lessons I learned going through the process of developing and launching our experience.

1. Define the problem you’re looking to solve upfront

When we decided to explore a VR strategy, it was in response to two very real challenges we were facing as marketers.

First, we provide fiber routes and data centers around the world.  You can tour our data centers, but you have to travel to see them.  You can understand a fiber route, but you would never dig up a line to look at it.  How do I sell products I can’t show?

My team is responsible for planning and executing over 100 events per year, ranging from small 20-person sports suites to 40,000 person conferences.  How do we create consistent messaging and experiences across all our events, regardless of format?

The answer to both of these issues for us was video.  But no one is going to stop watching a football game to watch a sales video.  If we could make it engaging and unique, we would be able to solve both problems while ensuring our events remained fun.  That’s where VR came in.  From there, we had a very clear parameter within which to build a script and storyboard.

2. Watch Your Runtime

Like any good video, runtime is critical for VR.  If you’re planning to use it as part of an events strategy, I recommend creating two versions.  The first version for smaller, less fast-passed events should run less than 3.5 minutes.  We’re assuming someone will sit down and enjoy the experience for about the same amount of time they will watch a YouTube video.

The second version should run less than 1.5 minutes.  This is for your tradeshow booths, kiosks and other environment where people are on the move.  The VR experience is a draw, but it has to fit into your 5 minute booth flow.  Keep that in mind when you’re writing the script in the first place.  How could you re-edit this to be shorter if needed?

3. Invest in animation

Animation will be the difference between a boring informational video and a memorable experience.  Build this into your budget on the front end.  Lean on any videography group you use to include this in their proposal.  Then add 10% contingency to that.  Once you get into editing, you may find that you need to up the animation budget to ensure the experience stays cool and fun.  If not, great!  You’re under budget.

4. Show it on the big screen

Although we all knew VR was cool, most people at the convention had never done it before.  What’s more, they had no desire to try it until they saw someone else doing it.  When we displayed our experience on the large TV behind people’s heads, crowds gathered to watch – taking video and photos of others taking part.  I was a huge draw.  So show it off!

And now for your viewing pleasure…

Tradeshow 101: Be the Party

Each year thousands of people flock to Las Vegas, Orlando, New Orleans and hundreds of other cities to attend conventions.  For them, it is the highlight of their year.  Every day they grind through their 9 to 5 – working well more than 40 hours a week.

But once a year their company sends them to some convention where they are expected to ignore their email and learn something.  But for the attendee this is half learning – half vacation.

So why would anyone want to talk to this guy on their vacation?

boring tradeshow booth

As the one running the booth it is your job to be the party.  People want to hang out with the fun people.  Don’t be boring.

Here are a few things I do in order to attract those looking to have fun:

  1. No cell phones.  Put them away.  You don’t need them.  Whatever it is can wait.  Your company has dropped thousands of dollars on this event.  Be present and hide your phone.
  2. Get a song stuck in your head.  If you have a fun song stuck in your head it will keep your energy up.  The faster the tempo, the better.  I actually dance at my booths to the song in my head.  People give me weird looks, but it’s usually like “I want whatever she’s having.”  Their on vacation.  Why wouldn’t they?  You would not believe how many people will walk up and start dancing with me without an invite.  My go to is “Conga” by Miami Sound Machine.  Find one that works for you.
  3. Smile.  It seems like a simple thing, but I see it all the time.  People flew across the country to represent their company at the conference and they look miserable.  No one wants to party with the depressed guy who only smiles when you walk up.  Smile like you’re having the time of your life and people will literally cross the room to say hi.

Remember, they’re there to learn and blow off some steam.  So be the party and they will come to you.

And now, for some dancing inspiration…

Tradeshow 101: How to Jedi Mind Trick Someone to Come to Your Booth

Between shipping, giveaways and printing, you can easily drop tens of thousands of dollars on a tradeshow.  Other than television commercials or forgotten PPC campaigns, they are one of the most expensive things a B2B marketer can do.  So generating a positive ROI is paramount.

How do you do it?

To start with, you’re probably going to need to get some leads at the booth.  In order to do that you need to get people to go to your booth.  But everyone is walking by, avoiding eye contact and refusing to come say hi.

Here’s how you get people to come to your booth against their will.

Image result for jedi mind trick gif
“You want to hear my elevator pitch.”

You can jedi mind trick someone into stopping at your booth in 2 simple steps:

  1. Say hello
  2. Shake their hand

It’s that simple.

Step 1: Say Hello

Visualize the convention aisle.  It is wide and most likely you’re facing a similarly sized booth on the other side.  Now cut it in half.  Any person walking on the opposite side of the aisle is off limits.  They’re too far away.  Let them go.

Everyone on your side of the aisle is fair game.  They are in your territory.

Stand at the edge of your booth’s carpet line – one arm’s length from the aisle.

Pro Tip: No one sits at the booth.  Ever.

Image result for compliment memeAs people walk into your territory (directly in front of the carpet), compliment them.  Say something specific and honest.

“I like your shoes.”
“I like your dress.”
“Sweet tie.”
“You are owning that hat!”

Whatever.  Make it genuine and specific.  If you can’t do that, you probably shouldn’t be working the booth at all.

People will instinctively stop, examine whatever you complimented, and then make eye contact to say thank you.  Test it out if you don’t believe me.  Tell someone at work, as their walking past, “I like your [insert piece of clothing].”  They will stop, look at what you are complimenting, and then look at you to say thank you.

Why?

People examine what they’re wearing because an unexpected compliment makes them Image result for compliment giftake pause to see why they are receiving it.  Many won’t remember immediately what tie they wore that day so they have to check.
Then they look at you to say thank you because they’re mamas’ would smack them up side the head if they didn’t. They were raised that the proper response to a compliment is “thank you”.

Step 2: Shake Their Hand

Image result for shaking handsAs soon as you have made eye contact it’s time to stick out your hand. You have their attention.  Time to reel them in.

Stick our your hand as if to shake hands and wait.  Don’t move.

You can experiment with this at the office too.  Stick out your hand to a stranger and see if they shake it.  I’ll bet you a dollar they do.

Why?

Because since you were a baby people have been walking up to you and shaking your hand.  It is so ingrained in your day-to-day routine that it is motor memory at this point.  It is considered painfully rude to ignore someone’s outstretched hand and you do it unconsciously.

So just wait.  95% of the time, they will shake your hand back.  It feels weird not to.

Then you can direct them onto your booth carpeting and go into your elevator pitch.

Don’t believe it works?  This is me pulling in 7 people at once by doing exactly this.  Say hello and shake their hand. Repeat. Works like a charm.

NWCDC Booth
Bringing in a crowd

Tradeshow 101: The Most Important Thing to Buy for Your Booth

Image result for exhibit hall picture

“Dear Hannah,

I am a marketing manager with a non-existing budget.  This year my company wants us to have a booth at a major industry tradeshow.  We have a tabletop, backdrop and podium.  It’s enough to fill up a 10×20.  With limited funds I’m not really sure where to put the bulk of it?  Should I invest in giveaways or a better booth or something else?  If giveaways, what are your favorites?

Sincerely,
Tabitha”

Tabitha,
Tradeshows happen to be one of my favorite topics.  In fact, in response to your email I’m going to write a series on my top tradeshow tips.

I know all too well how expensive tradeshows are and how unrealistic marketing budgets can be.

Here is hands down, the #1 most important thing you should buy for your booth:

Carpet Padding.

Image result for carpet padding tradeshow

It is the most under utilized, under valued and most important thing a marketer can spend money on for their booth.  More than giveaways, more than the booth itself, more than collateral… carpet padding is king.  And best of all, it’s cheap.

Carpet Padding can accomplish 4 critical things:

  1. Entice people to come to your booth
  2. Entice people to stay at your booth
  3. Keep your team’s energy up
  4. Make you look like an event marketing genius

1. Entice People to Come to Your Booth

Let me paint a picture for you.

Image result for professional woman outfit plusKelly works in an office and rarely gets to do something fun as part of her job.  Maybe she travels to other offices, but it’s rarely a good time.  For the most part she works at her desk, rarely has time to eat or exercise properly, and hardly ever gets to rub elbows with her company’s executives.

Her company decides that she will join several others at a conference in Las Vegas – now they’re talking!  She will be joining her VP and a few directors.  She decides to pack her cutest, professional outfits – which include heels.  Kelly doesn’t think about the fact that she’ll have to walk a mile from her hotel room to the convention hall.  She doesn’t realize the convention call is all concrete slightly covered by carpeting.  It never occurs to her that 3,000 exhibitors means spending an entire day on her feet in the exhibitor hall.  After 2 hours, her feet and back are killing her – and she has another 3 days of this.

Then Kelly walks past your booth and you complement her on her amazing heels and state Image result for feet are killing you“… but your feet must be killing you!  Come enjoy some carpet padding.”  She will shake your outstretched hand and come join you on the carpet, just to be polite.
Then Kelly’s eyes light up.  OMG!  Double carpet padding is instant relief.  Triple carpet padding feels like a cloud.

It sounds crazy, but it works 4 out of 5 times.  This is true of men and women alike.  Men’s shoes can be just as terrible, especially when you’re carrying a few extra pounds and are not used to this much walking.

2. Entice People to Stay at Your Booth

When they feel that relief, they are instantly in a better mood and are happy to listen to your elevator pitch.  If you opt for the triple padding, some people may actually take their shoes completely off.

They will tell you their life story for 3 minutes of relief from their feet and back.  Then you can better qualify them at the booth and hand them over to a nearby sales rep who can more expertly answer their question.

If people are running away from your booth, chances are you haven’t given them a good reason to stay.

3. Keep Your Team’s Energy Up

Image result for ready okayNo one should be sitting at the booth.  It is a hard rule at my events.  No one sits.

It is exhausting smiling, standing and being completely “on” for 8 hours 3 days in a row.  I get it.  If you expect your team to be “on” and on their feet, pay for the extra carpet padding.  Chances are they didn’t pack the right shoes either.  They will thank you.

4. Make You Look Like an Event Marketing Genius

geniusMarketing gets a bad rap for spending too much money (see a previous post on the topic), but you can reverse that when you demonstrate how much traffic you’re bringing in without having the nicest booth and coolest gadgets.  Point out to your team how other booths are not doing the same thing.  They have the coolest booth in the world and people are picking up their goody and leaving.  No valuable conversations at all.

When you’re team observes this, you can point out that you spent 1/3 of what the others did and we’ll probably get double the traffic.

You’ll look like a genius.  You’re welcome.

If anyone has any marketing questions feel free to email me at hlhoward71@hotmail.com.  I’m all ears and you may get a shout out on the blog.