Do you struggle to find new clients? The problem may be your Elevator Pitch.
Ask, “What sort of work do you do?” and most people will respond with one word.
“Accountant.” “Engineer.” “Consultant.”
The Secret is to Get Them on the Train
Just this afternoon, our local NPR station was running a fundraiser. Your contribution earns a chance to win an Australian vacation. The announcers droned on and on about how this was “a trip of a lifetime,” and “worth $8,000,” and “you’ll see penguins and kolas,” while repeating the phone number incessantly. Yawn.
But then they played a segment from the travel agent as he described the train ride to Adelaide. “Leaving Melbourne at 8:00, you’ll be in the Premier Red seats, so you’ll have a really comfy seat, and great big picture windows that gaze out at the countryside. You’ll pass through Eucalyptus forests, rolling green farmland, and expansive desert plains. You’ll arrive in Adelaide around 6:00.” In great detail, he described the route of this amazing adventure. Instead of dreading a 10 hour trip, I could almost see the kangaroos bouncing across the far horizon as I drove. And the studio phones started ringing.
The lesson for guerrilla marketers is that it’s not enough to parrot your profession. It’s not even enough to promise a benefit. You have to show them where they’re going, and what they’ve left behind.
Imagine, standing on the platform, and this train is about to embark on a wonderful journey. You shout, “Hey, there’s lots of open seats. It’ll be great! All you have to do is step aboard. We’ll have you home by supper!”
The train, of course, is you and the wonderful work you do with your clients. Their computers are humming, they have a new resume headshot, or they’ve settled a tax problem. You help clients get from “here” (they have a problem to solve) to “there” (you’ve helped them solve it.) Now take them on that journey. Let them experience what it’s like to work with you.
Blow the Guerrilla Marketing Whistle
One of the most awesome weapons in your Guerrilla Marketing Arsenal is your Elevator Pitch. That’s the script you use when someone asks, “So, what do you do?” If you had only 20 or 30 seconds to engage them, what would you say to get their attention, not counting, “Sorry, but I believe your pants are on fire”?
Your Guerrilla Elevator Pitch consists of three parts: 1) what you do, 2) who you do it for, and 3) two ways they benefit.
“At the Guerrilla Group, we help small business use low-cost marketing to increase sales and build profits.”
That’s like blowing the whistle on the train. You’ve gotten their attention, or not.
If not, that’s a good thing, because this trip is not for everyone. People will either say, “That’s nice!” (translation: I could care less now buzz-off) or, “Hummm. . . that’s interesting,” (tell me more).
Instead of, “I’m a tax accountant,” how about, “I help honest small-business owners take every legal deduction, and save them thousands of dollars in taxes.”
Instead of “environmental engineering,” try, “We help small cities recover quickly after severe storms or floods, and help minimize damage in the future.”
Instead of “SEO consultant,” what if you said, “I help companies get found on the Internet, and attract their best prospects, right when they’re most motivated to buy.”
You get the idea. Notice the structure. What. Who. And two benefits.
How long? Like a mini-skirt; short enough to be interesting and just long enough to cover the essentials.
“But what if I have more than one area of expertise?” Maybe you’re like my good friend Debi. She’s a very fine jazz pianist, but she also teaches piano, tutors elementary math and English, and teaches Japanese to professionals.
That’s simple. You need a value proposition for each offering, and each audience. So Debi might say, “I help elementary grade children to excel at math.” OR she might say, “I teach executives who travel abroad essential Japanese; at least enough to really impress their clients.”
It depends on who’s in the elevator. Smart guerrilla marketers will write several, edit them to the nub, and memorize them verbatim.
Why two benefits?
That’s because some people are motivated toward some positive outcome, or away from some problem or pain. People who are toward-motivated buy lottery tickets. People who are away-from buy flight insurance. So your value proposition is going to be most effective if it includes one of each. Where is the train going to go, and what are we leaving behind.
Use Powerful Language in your Elevator Pitch
There are many variations on this list. One myth is that Yale University researchers some how discovered the 12 most persuasive words in English. The truth is even more interesting. On August 14, 1961, an add appeared in the New York Times, with the headline, “The New Sell.”
“Most persuasive selling words, according to recent researches: You, Easy, Money, Save, Love, New, Discovery, Results, Proven, Health, Guarantee.” — Marketing Magazine
The research may be a myth, but the words are indeed persuasive. In 1963, David Ogilvy, in his seminal book, Confessions of an Advertising Man, published his own list of the 20 most persuasive words in advertising:
Ogilvy became the most famous copywriter in the world, and built the tenth biggest agency in the world. So hurry, and get on the train. These words work like magic. You’ll see amazing improvement. The results are remarkable.
Now you can tell a story
You’re ready to deploy your Capabilities Statement, (which we discussed in the May issue). This is where you describe the journey, step-by-step. That gets them gazing out the window.
A consultant might say, “I’ve been working with an electrical testing company in the UK. We meet every week over SKYPE to discuss whatever challenges the owner happens to be facing that week. This client — I’ll call him James, because, that’s his name — wanted to grow the business by advertising for new customers. I advised that we begin by recording and analyzing the inbound telephone calls they were already receiving. A team of three salespeople were taking 20 to 30 inquires a day, but only closing 50%.
“I listened to the recordings and found two important flaws. They weren’t building rapport and they weren’t closing. The owner changed the script, and a month later, they’re closing 75%. Now, tell me about your business?”
See, NOW they’re on the train, ready to join you on a journey of their own. –Orvel Ray Wilson