How to craft an excellent elevator pitch

What is an elevator pitch? An elevator pitch is a way to explain the distilled benefits of a product or service in a way that gets people to want to know more.

It should be a concise statement which, as it states, can be used in the short time that an elevator takes to go from one floor to another.

Are you ready to quickly and easily put together an elevator pitch of your own?

The challenge

Being clear and concise can be challenging when you have lots of information about your product or service in your head. It’s a particular challenge for technology marketers with products and services of high complexity.

Consider for a moment, all of the capabilities, settings, integrations, and benefits of your product. It could be hundreds or even thousands. Of course, you are not going to get through reciting a list of product benefits in a short elevator ride. Nor should you. Not if you wish for your audience to ask for more.

First a point of housekeeping. If you want to get the most out of this how-to, then you should have gone through a value proposition exercise. Moreover, ideally, you have carefully crafted your positioning, messaging, and story frameworks. Doing so will inform your elevator pitch and ensure that all roads lead to Rome, that all your messages are aligned.

The many uses of an elevator pitch

You can use an elevator pitch with more than just customers or prospects in an elevator; it can be used across your organization to help bring the value proposition to life for anyone that needs to care about your product. Having an effective elevator pitch is going to have benefits internally and externally for your business.

An exercise in crystallization

Credit wacomka @ Adobe Stock

Credit wacomka @ Adobe Stock

“The essence of crystallization is one that demonstrates how the creation of something straightforward and elegant can often require much legwork and time.”

An elevator pitch is, in many ways, an exercise in distilling the complex into the simple. An analogy here would be the creation of crystals. Recently my children had a home crystal creation kit. It consisted of instructions, a small dish, some mixing utensils, seed stones, the chemicals for the solution and so forth. They read the instructions. Then went through the steps to prepare the solution to get the crystals ready to grow. Then they waited. Over the course of several days, the crystals grew, forming beautiful, orderly, and rather cool looking shapes for the whole family to enjoy. The essence of crystallization is one that demonstrates how the creation of something straightforward and elegant can often require much legwork and time.

“Customers don't want to spend time working to understand what it is that you've got to say. “

The same goes for creating an elevator pitch. You must spend time, energy and effort while following a process. Do so, and you will come up with something clear, crystallized and beautiful. This approach is incredibly important because if you don't do this work, you are delegating it to your customers. I've got news for you. Your customers won’t do it. Customers don't want to spend time working to understand what it is that you've got to say.

Consider the following situation. Two companies with very similar products to a very similar problem. Company #1 doesn't spend the time and energy to come up with a simple, clear elevator pitch. Company #2 does. Which one of those companies is going to be more readily understood by the customer? Which one of these companies are more likely to get attention from a customer and subsequently be more likely to sell them products? I'm sure you guessed by now, as it's pretty apparent that Company #1 fails, and Company #2 succeeds. I could hazard a guess as to which company you would prefer to be.

You’ve committed to creating a clear, concise, and crystal-clear elevator pitch for your prospective customers. Now what? Time to follow the process.

We’ll walk through that now.

Creating your elevator pitch

Credit gustavofrazao @ Adobe Stock

Credit gustavofrazao @ Adobe Stock

Let’s assume that you've gone through the effort to create a value proposition, product positioning, messaging and story frameworks. These essential groundwork steps put the right things in place for all of the messaging and communication that comes downstream. You're going to use these when creating your elevator pitch. Please make sure you’ve got them to hand to reference, and you're ready for the next step.

There are three steps.

  1. Select a priority Desire of your target market

  2. Determine the critical Difficulty for them to achieve the Desire

  3. Craft a Denouement statement about how you resolve the problem

The next step is going to be broken down into three subsections, each of them begins with D.


Credit Chris Titze Imaging @ Adobe Stock

Credit Chris Titze Imaging @ Adobe Stock

Desire is about what somebody wants to achieve. As the late great Steve jobs articulated, there is a difference between wants and need. A want is explicit a want is something retained in the consciousness of your customer that they understand clearly and have a motivation to resolve. It is known.

Let’s look at a consumer example. You have a car with all-season tires, and you know you want to have summer and winter tires from now on. The ‘what’ of your ‘want’ is clear and defined. The thing is people don’t always know what they want. If the solution isn’t known to them, they can’t choose it. It can get even harder for the customer when considering the whole product. In this case issues such as what type of summer or winter tires are needed, what kinds of tools will help or the fact I need a service provider to change and store the tires twice a year.

This is where needs come in. Needs are frequently unknown, things we haven't yet figured it out yet. We have an issue or a desire but don’t yet know precisely what it is that we want.

Let's stick with the same example. Consider for a moment what types of things may happen in somebody's life could motivate them to need different tires on the car for different seasons. They may need to save money on fuel costs. Perhaps they need to be safer in slippery driving conditions. Alternatively, maybe the car is a performance machine which will perform better on summer tires but doing so results in riskier winter driving. Perhaps they have never gone that route because the effort of changing tires seems like too much of a hassle. Instead, the simply opted for all-season tires. Your positioning framework will be a big help to you here.

Whatever your approach in assessing wants and needs you will eventually arrive at a want. It may be known by the customer already, or you may be about to introduce them to it. When you have a clearly defined want, you have the key to desire.


Credit Chris Titze Imaging @ Adobe Stock

Credit Chris Titze Imaging @ Adobe Stock

Difficulty is about what stands in the way between someone and their desire. It could be specific, or it could be situational.

Specific issues are immediate and direct.

Situation issues are about the whole product and the other things standing in the way of your customer's success.

In this case, ‘specific’ refers to the challenges and difficulty the person has with their current choice, all-season tires. Those all-season tires are too slippery on ice and have worse mileage performance on summer road trips.

As for ‘situational’ in this case, it relates to things such as what must be done to manage to have two sets of tires. What tires should I choose for summer or winter? How and where do I change them? Does someone else do it for me? Where do I store the ones not being used? These are all specific problems.

You may select one specific issue or one situational issue for your difficulty statement. You may have a blend of a few. It will in large part depend on your product and how it helps.

Be mindful of getting too ‘into the weeds’ focus on the more significant issues, prioritize and select a difficulty to include.

The third phase of developing your elevator pitch is the development of a statement about your product or service which resolves your customer’s difficulty and helps them achieve their desire.


Credit nito @ Adobe Stock

Credit nito @ Adobe Stock

What is this crazy word? It’s a French word meaning conclusion. It’s a word often used in writing, play and film parlance.

For the Denouement step, go back to your value proposition and positioning framework. What key benefits of your product best represent the difficulty and desire elements we prioritized above.

Your objective here is to sum up how things can and will be better with your product or service in the picture.

It's worth reiterating at this point, the importance of crystallization and simplification. Yes, there are dozens or even hundreds of features, benefits, and capabilities of your product. Moreover, you may have already gone through an exercise to distill these down into your value proposition, and positioning framework. It's time to go one step further.

You should craft your denouement as a fait accompli. Confident and clear. It should be in a language that expresses the key benefits and value that directly result in your customer achieving what they desire and overcoming the difficulty they experience. It should be outcome related and paint a picture of where you can take them.

It is a statement of conclusion as a resolution of their challenges and satisfaction of their needs.

They should be so inspired and excited that they want to know more.

That, my friend, is the whole point of this exercise.

Putting it all together.

Let’s re-visit our tire example by imagining that we are ACME Garage & Service. What could our elevator pitch look like?

You want to be safe in the winter and reduce your summer fuel costs. Like many, you don’t have space for a second set of wheels, or the equipment or interest to do it yourself. That's why at full-service ACME Garage & Service we change seasonal tires in 15 minutes or less and store your off-season tires for you.

There we have it. A simple example of desire, difficulty, and denouement. Remember, ACME Garage & Service likely provide a whole host of other services they offer. Things that didn’t make it into the elevator pitch.

Likewise, your product or service probably has hundreds of benefits, some of which may be the same as the competition. Stop talking about the things that you do that are the same and start figuring out how you can stand out from the competition.

Do the 3Ds work for anything else?

At its heart, the 3Ds are a highly distilled version of storytelling structure. Beginning, Middle and End should be apparent in Desire, Difficulty, Denouement. Storytelling structures bring consistency and repeatability to help you get your customers moving forward on the journey with you.

We suggest using the 3D's method when you have two things. First make sure you did the legwork of strategic messaging such as developing a value proposition, positioning, messaging, and story frameworks. Moreover, secondly, select this approach when you have a discrete, actionable outcome you're looking to drive.

Another place 3Ds work well are for the opening statement in a keynote or pitch deck. For the bulk of the content, you’ll want to be more comprehensive with your use of storytelling structures.

For more extensive, more complex efforts and content I would suggest using our more detailed frameworks and approaches to cover all the bases necessary in developing marketing strategies and marketing content. You’ll notice in the 3Ds there is nothing about context, action or results. There is nothing about the hero, villains or the steps to realize success. Integrating 3Ds into your thinking is a powerful and straightforward way to keep your mind focused on the application of storytelling across your business.

Just remember that it's the tip of the iceberg.

We hope that you found this helpful and look forward to hearing about your application of the 3D framework to your business.

Schedule a 30 min video chat to discuss how to apply to your business.

Go Narrative is a marketing consultancy that assists business leaders in technology firms to build and implement advanced marketing strategies. Our secret sauce is storytelling for business growth and transformation. We can help you cut through the noise and improve your reputation. We love helping business leaders understand, use and apply storytelling in business via writing, presentations, video, strategy and actionable plans. Get attention. Be heard. Sell more. | eBook available at |

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