Every company needs an elevator statement, a memorable description that quickly describes what the company does and why it’s important. This handy statement can be used in many ways—from networking events to press releases.
The goal is not to divulge everything about the company; rather, to make people interested enough so they will say, “Tell me more!”
Having helped nearly 100 companies craft their elevator statements, I can tell you that it’s easier said than done. Executives tend to get bogged down in jamming as much information into an elevator statement as possible, or trapped by descriptions, words and jargon that just aren’t meaningful outside of their company.
To set the foundation for creating a successful elevator statement, it’s important to understand what makes a statement effective. Luckily, this is common sense:
They are brief. The key to a good elevator statement is making it easy to understand in under 30 seconds, hence its name. With just a sentence or two to describe the essence of your company, every word must count.
They are created for the listener. More often than not, people draft elevator statements that talk about features instead of benefits. The listener, however, will be hooked by a statement that includes how the company or product solves a challenge.
They use simple, memorable language. When talking face-to-face, you are competing with everything going on around you that can distract the listener, so it’s important to use words that are easy to grasp and remember.
There is no right approach to drafting an elevator statement, although it’s helpful to begin by jotting down some words that best describe your company, including nouns (things), verbs (action words) and adjectives (words that describe).
For example, an Internet of Things company might whiteboard:
Nouns: sensors, smart devices, water intrusion
Verbs: monitor, alert
Adjectives: quick, safe
Then draft a statement such as, “Our company manufactures smart sensors that monitor your environment for water intrusion and quickly alert you via text message if something changes.”
Other approaches that work well include:
Defining the problem. Set up the elevator statement by first describing a challenge. For example, “As baby boomers retire, companies are losing valuable experience that is hard to replace. We supply industry accomplished experts in the life sciences industry to help solve complex challenges and mentor young executives.”
Making a comparison. Companies in emerging industries can benefit from comparing themselves to established businesses. For example, “People use FitBits to monitor their activity and adopt healthier habits. We apply this same idea to agriculture, helping farmers make better decisions for a more robust crop.”
Being audacious. If you’re in an industry that puts stock in being bold, try a statement that’s a little cheeky. For example, “Today’s most innovative mobile merchants all have one thing in common: they use our payment solutions.”
Finally, have a few additional talking points available to cover when the conversation evolves. Customer examples that demonstrate success are particularly effective in driving a fruitful conversation.