The Seven Steps of Mastering
an Effective Elevator Pitch
Professionals in the accounting, valuation, and finance sectors frequently struggle with a deceptively simple task: describing in a few words what their firm does and how it stands apart from the competition. If you, the reader, have experienced this difficulty, you can make it easier on yourself by having a thoughtful and concise elevator pitch ready to deploy when the opportunity arises. The ideal elevator pitch explains in clear, straightforward language what your firm does and how it is positioned in the marketplace. In this article, I will share some proven tips on how to write your own.
Professionals in the accounting, valuation, and finance sectors frequently struggle with a deceptively simple task: describing in a few words what their firm does and how it stands apart from the competition.
If you, too, have experienced this difficulty, you can make it easier on yourself by having a thoughtful and concise elevator pitch ready to deploy when the opportunity arises. The ideal elevator pitch explains in clear, straightforward language what your firm does and how it is positioned in the marketplace.
In this article, I will share some proven tips on how to write your own. You can find more marketing tips like these in Hingeâ€™s How-To Guides from Hinge University, our online learning platform.
Step 1. Know the Key Functions of an Elevator Pitch
To be effective, an elevator pitch has to do just two things:
- Respond to the question, â€śWhat does your company do?â€ť
- Explain how your firm differs from similar firms.
If you are not sure how to address the second question, you should read Differentiation Strategy for the Professional Services Firm and go through the process of identifying your differentiators.
Step 2. Use Plain LanguageÂ
Draft your pitch using simple terms that any non-specialist will understand. Keep your sentences short. Use simple words and avoid industry jargon.
Step 3. Lead With What You Do
This might seem obvious, but it is essential to explain what your firm does. Avoid the temptation to overdo it with impressive languageâ€”instead, just put it out there. Trust me, you will get more nods of understanding, and fewer blank stares.
Step 4. Weave in Your Positioning
What separates you from competing firms? Write your answer in straightforward terms. If you already have a positioning statement, that is a good place to start. This step is rarely easy, however, so if you need help creating your firmâ€™s positioning statement, refer to our resource, How to Write Your Positioning Statement in Hinge University.
Step 5. Keep it Brief
The most effective elevator pitches are no more than three sentences long; if yours is longer, you may want to trim it back. The strategy is to convey just a couple of key ideas. You can always go into more detail later if your listener asks follow-up questions. For your initial pitch, aim for a total of 50 words or less.
Step 6. Read Your Pitch Out Loud
This might seem like strange advice, but one of the best ways to test your pitch is to read it aloud. Then ask yourself if it sounds like something you could say without sounding stiff or robotic. Rather, it should sound natural and conversational. If you do find that it sounds a little stiff, try beginning some of your sentences with a conjunction, such as â€śandâ€ť or â€śbut.â€ť And do not hesitate to use contractions (â€śweâ€™re,â€ť â€śyouâ€™re,â€ť etc.). Cut long sentences into two. Also, consider the words you are using. Are they approachable and commonly used? Or could they sound a little â€śfull of themselvesâ€ť? Remember, your pitch should be designed to be spoken, not read, so it is fine to break a grammatical rule here or there if it makes the pitch sound more natural.
Step 7. Try it Out in the Real World
Memorize your pitch and use it a few times with different people. You should be able to see right away whether they understand it. If you sense a problem, go back and look again at the language you are using. Is the pitch simple enough? Does it assume too much about your audienceâ€™s knowledge or understanding? Usually, making a few tweaks will solve such problems. Here are a couple of real-world examples you can use as models:
Example 1 (Word count: 38)Â
Hinge is the leading provider of branding and marketing services to professional services firms. We develop research-based marketing programs that help firms and individual experts become more visible so they can grow faster and be more profitable.
Example 2 (Word count: 50)Â
Phillips DiPisa is the leader in retained executive search for healthcare organizations. And because many of our professionals were once healthcare executives, themselves, we know the market better than anybody else. In fact, we fill client openings 93 percent of the timeâ€”which is head and shoulders above the industry average.
The real power of an effective elevator pitch is that it allows you to quickly introduce your firm to a potential client in a way that helps them not only understand what you do, but also makes them want to learn more. And while you may or may not ever deliver it in an actual elevator, you will find still countless opportunities to share it. But as I mentioned at the outset, the best ones are deceptively simpleâ€”so be prepared to spend a little time and effort until your pitch is ready.
For more ideas and guidance on practical marketing techniques to implement at your firm, be sure to check out our Quick Start Kits and How-To Guides on this and many other marketing and branding topics at Hinge University.
Best of luck!
Lee W. Frederiksen, PhD, is Managing Partner at Hinge, the leading branding and marketing firm for the professional services. Hinge conducts groundbreaking research into high-growth firms and offers a complete suite of services for firms that want to become more visible and grow.
Dr. Frederiksen can be contacted at (703) 391-8870 or by e-mail to LFrederiksen@hingemarketing.com.