Yes, Virginia, There Is an Elevator Pitch

It’s a standard but fiendishly difficult component of every marketing and communications plan: The Elevator Pitch. That rarest of gems, it’s a short, persuasive description of a person, organization or group, or an idea for a product, service, or project. In fact, the pursuit of the perfect elevator pitch can seem a quixotic exercise — more aspirational and directional than attainable.

Yesterday I had a very interesting conversation with a marketing and communications executive who is leading a rebranding initiative for her B2B company. Although I was not pitching new business, I found myself slipping into a familiar metaphor to explain how her initiative might benefit from deeper analysis of how current customers perceive the brand, and why. That data could then be broken down further to enable insights into segmentation and differentiated positioning and messaging.

Without thinking about it, I started giving my elevator pitch:

“Shatterbox takes its name from a device used by geologists to crush rocks into a fine-grained powder so fundamental materials can be clearly identified and analyzed.

Similarly, marketing-driven companies and professional firms of all sizes are breaking down their communication programs — public relations, social media and advertising — into component parts, sifting out the most successful strategies and tactics and aligning resources with them.”

“So what?” you understandably ask. I mention this not because I think I’ve nailed it, but rather to underscore the utility of metaphor and storytelling in retaining the elevator pitch and easily incorporating it into conversations. The trick is finding a central image or analogy that feels natural and authentic, and is distinctively yours.

How simple metaphors make the best elevator pitches:

  1. Scripted messaging is usually undifferentiated, formulaic and stilted — and always hard to remember verbatim (e.g. “We are a full-service firm dedicated to our clients’ success…”)
  2. Metaphors are endlessly adaptable to various circumstances; scripts…not so much
  3. Humans process new concepts through analogy.
  4. You can make a pitch without sounding like a pitch

Do you have word picture or narrative device that you rely on to carry your brand message?

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