Some people think that a ‘pitch’ is something only tech startups need.
A pitch is a great tool for solidifying the ideas and values you have worked into your business from day one. This has two benefits: 1) When someone asks you what your business does you’ll have a quick and clear answer, and 2) You may discover some marketing and branding strategies that you hadn’t considered before. It’s a win-win.
Step 1: Start by thinking deeply
To begin, you need to think about the deeper purpose of your business. Sometimes it is easier to think of the “why” in terms of your industry or service rather than your specific small business. This kind of deep insight gives you a huge advantage over your competitors.
It’s possible to get bogged down by what Simon Sinek calls the “why” so make sure you don’t spend too much time on this. 30-45 minutes should be the perfect amount of time. Once you get a feel for some of the deeper motivations of your customers, write them down!
Let’s say you own a restaurant that serves classic comfort food. Ask yourself, why do people like to eat this style of food? Well, people like comfort food because it reminds them of home, childhood, and family. Everyone wants to feel at-home, remember their good childhood memories, and be connected to a loving family atmosphere.
Step 2: How are you remarkable?
No small business is just a cookie-cutter copy of another. Every small business has something about it that is remarkable, but it might be difficult for you to see what people enjoy most about your business because you are so close to the action. Often, it takes new eyes to see the most obvious things. If possible, have a friend, family member, or even a total stranger tell you the first (positive) thing they notice about your business.
Maybe your restaurant has the smell of warm biscuits constantly wafting through the air. You probably don’t even notice the heavenly smell anymore because you work there 24/7. But a new customer would likely remark on it, and that makes it remarkable. “Wow! That smell brings be back….”
Step 3: Make it about the customer
Customers who honestly care about your business will always be few and far between. After all, caring about the business is your job, not theirs. Customers do care about their experience, however. That’s their job, so-to-speak. Make their job easier by giving your pitch a message that is about them.
Remember though, it’s important to phrase this in positive terms, not negative ones. You might be thinking, “Well duh!”, but it’s actually an easy trap to fall into. For example, if you run a small gym, you shouldn’t start your pitch like those cheesy exercise equipment commercials.
“Hey! Are you fat? Feel lazy? Try this product!”
No. That doesn’t work for most people. Pitch an experience that people want, not the pain they are currently in. For example, let’s mix some old and new Olive Garden marketing material:
“Enjoy a fresh and delicious Italian meal, every time.
Olive Garden. When you’re here, you’re family.”
This follows the three steps pretty well:
- It talks about the deeper value of the Italian restaurant business (family).
- It identifies a few remarkable things about the business (freshness, deliciousness, and consistency in their food).
- It’s personal. The whole pitch is phrased as though they were talking right to you.
It’s a short pitch because restaurants are easy to understand. If your business is more specialized, more obscure, etc., you may need a few more sentences to really convey your message. That said, don’t overdo it. An ‘elevator’ pitch should have just enough information in it to pique someone’s interest. They don’t need to know every competitive advantage you can think of. If they ask questions about the business after you give your pitch, it’s already done its job. So long as you hit those three steps, you’ll be in good shape when people ask, “So, what does your business do?”