What is an elevator pitch?

Now that you’re back on the market looking for a job or looking to pitch your small business to a potential client, how best do you sell yourself? An essential tool of your personal brand toolkit is the “elevator pitch,” a 30- to 60-second message that conveys your unique value, including what you do, how you do it and for whom.

Why do I need it?

An elevator pitch is a short sales pitch that you can use when you strike up a casual conversation. It’s an effective way to get someone interested in who you are and what you do.

Where will I use it?

Whenever you meet potential new contacts — at a networking event, a seminar, in the supermarket – this short introduction is a way to get the most out of a casual encounter.

What do I include in my elevator pitch?

1. Hook Start with a hook that identifies a problem and captures your audience’s interest immediately. This could be a question or a statement; for example, “Did you know that most organizations don’t deliver a clear message to their customers?” or “Most firms have trouble delivering a clear message to their customers.”

2. Action Phrase Follow up with an action phrase rather than a label. For example, “I help small- to medium-sized companies discover and develop their unique brand identities” rather than, “I’m a senior brand designer/consultant for small- to medium-sized companies.”

3. Unique Value  Explain what makes you unique; for example, “My work focuses on a holistic process that involves the entire organization.”

4. Impact State the impact of your work on your clients/customers; for example, “I’ve seen clients enjoy increased sales when they forge a stronger brand identity.”

When do I make a call to action?

You could end your pitch with a call to action that could lead to a job interview or a new client: “I’d like to continue this conversation with you” or “Why don’t I drop you an email tomorrow?” Don’t forget to hand your listener your business card!

Barbara is a writer and educator with a PhD from the University of Chicago. For the last 13 years, she’s taught writing and research at Parsons School of Design and Barnard College including white papers, design documents, grant-writing, academic research papers. She also writes marketing and web content for various Silicon Valley technology companies.