I was listening to an old interview with Michael Port last week, and I smiled when the subject of “elevator speeches” came up. “We hate giving them,” he told Louise Crooks of BlogTalkRadio’s Keys to Clarity, “And we hate listening to them. Why, then,” he continued, “Do we keep making them?”
Despite plenty of sales training to the contrary, I happen to agree with Michael…DOWN with the elevator speech!
Don’t get me wrong: You do need to be crystal clear about three things I sometimes refer to as the Universal Marketing Questions:
(1) Who do you work for? (Who’s your “target market”?)
(2) What do they need? (And why is it important?)
(3) Why should they buy it from you? (What’s your unique experience or impact?)
I also believe you need to be bold and compelling. That’s why I’ve replaced the “elevator speech” with my notion of the “audio billboard”.
In my seminars, I sometimes ask:
“If you were cruising down the highway at 65 miles per hour and you saw, up on a billboard, what you usually tell people in response to a question about what you do, would you slow down to read it…or would you drive right past it?”
The usual answer is, “I would probably drive right past it,” but that’s obviously the WRONG answer.
What you don’t have to do is blurt out your billboard in some “cutesy”, one-sentence, automated statement. Your audience is, after all, not filled with mechanical “prospects”, but with real, human people. In his radio interview, Michael went on to explain that describing “what you do” should be part of a conversation—or as I like to say, part of a human-to-human conversation.
Here’s a sample of a conversational “audio billboard” exchange:
John: I’ve been talking a lot, Peter. What do YOU do?
Peter: Well, John, do you know how a lot of people fall behind on their mortgage payments?
John: Of course.
Peter: Exactly…which means that there’s a serious danger they could lose everything they’ve worked for their whole lives.
John: It’s sad, but it’s happening a lot, with the job market the way it’s been.
Peter: Yes! And that usually means that unless someone can help them work something out with the mortgage company, they have to live in constant worry and stress, right?
John: I’m sure…
Peter: Well, I step in and help them work something out with their mortgage companies so that they can stop worrying and get on with the rest of their lives…
The template for this conversation is:
Person: What do you do?
You: Do you know how…? [Mention your target market.]
Which means… Which means… [Mention the importance of the need you fulfill.]
Well, I… [Mention your impact.]
Using a simple but meaningful conversational format like this, you move from the dreaded “elevator speech” to an “audio billboard”—within a short, human-to-human interaction.
Remember to be a person, and you won’t drop down the shaft. You can keep your conversations bold and clear—not “cutesy” and forgettable—if you just keep REACHING…