If you were in an elevator and had 15 seconds to sell your business, what would you say?
"My USP, of course! Right?"
Your USP is good (USP == Unique Selling Proposition. If you don't have this yet, get one first!) but 9 times out of 10 it's just too big. You need something more concise. Something that can be defined in one sentence and leaves them wanting more.
The best Elevator Pitch I ever heard was at an Internet Seminar I attended. One of the Personal Coaches and I had been talking and we needed, literally, to get into the elevator. We talked, and around the 3rd floor a middle-aged man got on. He overheard us talking and asked us "That's interesting, what do guys do exactly?"
"I help average people achieve extraordinary success."
Brilliant. How can you say no to that? You may be skeptical, you may not believe the guy... but you can't say no. "No sir, I don't want extraordinary success. That's not what I need at all!" If you can say that with a straight face then you're a better (wo)man than I.
It's perfectly okay to have a few different multiple elevator pitches for different scenarios as long as you can keep them separate. In fact it's a good idea to have the 2 or 3 main facets of your business and a way of approaching different types of clients for each of them.
For instance I have 3 pitches I use regularly:
For execs and managers: I help businesses generate sales leads on the internet.
For general clients: I help businesses beat their competition and profit from emerging trends in technology
For techies: I combine new trends and trusted technologies like PHP, MySQL, Java and DHTML with the latest online advertising techniques to help people produce sales online.
I use these, more specific pitches because I tend to deal more with numbers-oriented business people. Techies want technical details. They want buzzwords. Everyone else just wants the ol' WIIFM: What's In It For Me.
The best elevator pitches urges curiosity and beckons the listener to ask "Yea? How do you do that?" giving you a chance to ask the client some questions and schedule a time. Do your business a favor and create your own. And be sure to take a few minutes and practice it in front of a mirror until you feel confident with it. You'll be surprised at how this one little thing can improve your business networking results.
Once you've got it all down consider using it as a slogan. Put it on your business cards, put it in your advertising material. Put it everywhere. Reap the rewards.
Aaron Colman, Indianapolis, IN, USA