Sunday, February 22, 2009

How Do You Make Sure Your Elevator Speech Hits The Mark

Writen by Lorraine Howell

The "elevator speech" has become the essential tool for savvy business owners, entrepreneurs, and other professionals who use networking and building relationships as key strategies in their marketing efforts. You have only one chance to make a good first impression. A great elevator speech is the key to starting the conversation.

When someone asks you the introductory question "What do you do?" you have approximately 15-20 seconds – or the length of a non-stop elevator ride in a 40-story high rise building – to say something that will generate interest in the other person, so they ask you follow up questions about what you do.

It sounds simple enough. You just have to create a short pithy statement that compels people to ask more about you or your business.

So how do you do this? You start by asking a few key questions and your elevator speech begins to emerge within the answers to these key questions.

The first question is "Who is your audience?" Identify your target audience and what is important to them. Your target audience is the same as your target market or ideal customers. Who do you want to work with or who would want to buy from you? Dig beneath the surface and be specific about your target market. If you are not clear on whom you are trying to reach, your message will be muddled.

Is there an ideal industry, business type, group, socioeconomic status, location, hobby, or other factor that describes your best customers? If your target market is a business, what is the company's profile, number of employees, annual revenue? Where is the business in its growth cycle?

The next question to answer is "What do they care about?" What are the day-to-day concerns or issues faced by your target market? What is their point of pain that you can address? By the way, the question is NOT "What do YOU think they should care about?" Put yourself in their shoes and think about it from their point of view. The more you understand the situation from their perspective, the more likely you are to hit the mark with your elevator speech.

Once you have identified your target audience and their concerns, you can turn your attention to your product or service. Answer this question: "What value/results/benefits do you provide?" Before you answer, look at the question again. I am asking what do you do, NOT how do you do it? And that small distinction changes your approach to an elevator speech.

More often than not, people launch into a detailed explanation about how they work or how their product is put together. They are confusing the process with the results. When people ask "what do you do?" what they are really asking is "what can you do for me?" So tell them about the results or benefits they can expect from your product or service.

And finally, answer this question: "What spins your jets about what you do?" People like to work with professionals who demonstrate passion and enthusiasm for their work. Consider this your "secret sauce." It's the zest and energy that will immediately attract people and move them to ask more questions.

The answers to these four questions provide the foundation to a memorable elevator speech. I have created a proven process of delving into these questions in more detail, plus six more relevant questions that help you uncover a powerful elevator speech in my new book Give Your Elevator Speech a Lift! The book is available now at or on my site at

Lorraine Howell owns Media Skills Training where she teaches business owners, CEO's, and management teams to speak with confidence and impact in an enjoyable and down-to-earth way. Sign up for Lorraine's FREE e-tips and also receive her FREE 5 Steps to Start a New Business Conversation (& Get Results, Too!)" by visiting her website at

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