The Perfect One-Liner or Elevator Pitch
Why is it important to have a strong one-liner or elevator pitch?
Imagine This: You’re at your child’s soccer game on a brisk fall Saturday morning. While the kids are playing, you are chatting up other parents on the team. One parent comes up to you on crutches and strikes up a conversation.
Her: Hey! I’m Sally.
You: Good morning. I’m Steve.
Her: So, what do you do?
You: Well, it’s kind of complicated. You see, 40 years ago my dad started this company. He had just left his job and didn’t know what to do next. He spent a couple of years working odd jobs and trying to make ends meet. He finally decided to start his own business with a buddy of his. After I graduated college, I joined the family business.
Her: **eyes glazed over** oh, that’s nice. (Walks away…)
What she never found out is you’re a personal injury lawyer. She was injured in a collision with a Walmart truck and is currently looking to hire a personal injury lawyer to represent her and her husband who may never walk again.
Why most One-Liners and Elevator Pitches fail
Whether you’re the personal injury lawyer in our story, or you sell widgets, it’s helpful to know what interests people about your work. When someone asks what you do, that is your opportunity to make a connection and invite them into a story.
What you don’t want to do is bore them to death so they tune out and never learn how you might help them. Unfortunately, that is what most people do. Most people make mistakes like
- Talking about how/why/when the business was started
- Saying, “It’s complicated”
- Saying, “You wouldn’t be interested”
- Making it too generic…”I’m in marketing”
- Only saying their job title… “I’m a senior brand advisor” (A what?)
- Failing to show how what they do makes people’s lives better.
Doing any of this is a surefire way to have your one-liner or elevator pitch fail. Your conversation partner comes to you for an interesting discussion and you drop a snooze bomb on them.
That won’t work. You can do better.
The Perfect One-Liner or Elevator Pitch
Creating the perfect elevator pitch or one-liner isn’t difficult. When someone asks what you do, they should be launched into a story, not a nap. Thrusting your conversation partner into a story requires only the most basic understanding of storytelling and how it relates to your business.
No, you are not going to tell a story. That is what you tried to do before and it put the poor injured woman to sleep. You’re going to use elements of storytelling to help them see themselves in a story, guided by you.
The 3 Parts of the Perfect Elevator Pitch or One-Liner
An elevator pitch and a one-liner are basically the same thing. You have just a few seconds to tell someone what you do and how it makes their life better before they get off the elevator, or fall asleep. Here are the three elements you need to include.
When you look at your clients, what is the main problem they all have when they come to you for help? Start your pitch with that problem.
What do you do that solves the main problem your clients experience when coming to you? State it.
What success can your future clients expect to see when they come to you with their problem and you help them solve it. Show them.
It’s that simple. Three short statements make up the perfect one-liner. When you structure your one-liner or elevator pitch in this format and deliver it to someone in conversation, they will perk up and listen if they identify with the problem you state.
Some won’t, and that’s fine. They will at least appreciate the extremely simple and clear delivery of the answer to their question and not a long drawn-out rambling story.
Examples of Effective One-Liners or Elevator Pitches
So, let’s put them together. Problem. Solution. Success. What does that look like when it’s used for real businesses? Let’s take a look at a few. We’ll start with ours.
Clear Brand Story Marketing
Too many businesses waste valuable resources on marketing that doesn’t grow their business. At Clear Brand Story Marketing, we help you find the right words, to land the right clients, and grow the business of your dreams.
Short and sweet. Fewer characters than a tweet. (I’m a poet and I didn’t know it, apparently).
Problem: Too many businesses waste valuable resources on marketing that doesn’t grow their business.
Solution: we help you find the right words, to land the right clients,
Success: grow the business of your dreams.
That wasn’t so hard, was it?
Binford Redevelopment and Growth (BRAG)
BRAG is a client of ours. They’re a local nonprofit focused on a subsection of the northeast corner of Indianapolis, Indiana.
While working with BRAG on their brand messaging, we realized there is a serious lack of fun activities in our area (I live and work in the community they serve). Parents were home all summer with their kids and the few fun locations near us aren’t enough to fill out an entire summer.
Families are traveling to other communities for parks, events, food, and other fun things. So, we made that the core of their messaging. Here is their elevator pitch or one-liner.
People in our community are busy and don’t want to have to travel to neighboring communities for fun opportunities. BRAG is actively working to make sure everyone has easy access to fun opportunities right here to make this a community where we can all be proud to live and feel like we belong.
This one is a little longer, but not much. It still covers all three elements of the story.
Problem: People in our community are busy and don’t want to have to travel to neighboring communities for fun opportunities.
Solution: BRAG is actively working to make sure everyone has easy access to fun opportunities
Success: a community where we can all be proud to live and feel like we belong.
When families and residents spend more time in their community, they meet more people and begin to feel like they belong. This is the idea behind BRAG’s messaging and one-liner.
David Seiter – Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney
Dave was the first criminal defense attorney we worked with. He’s had a successful practice for years but was paying too much for his old website and SEO company. He felt like he wasn’t getting a return on his investment. So he hired us to do his messaging and build him a new website. Here is his one-liner.
When people find themselves in crises due to criminal charges, I guide them through the legal process to help them avoid or minimize the negative impact on their lives.
This is the shortest one of the three we’ll share today.
Problem: When people find themselves in crises due to criminal charges
Solution: I guide them through the legal process
Success: avoid or minimize the negative impact on their lives.
All of 29 words and it helps people visualize what Dave does. If he responded with some long story about his military career and some big back story, they’d fall asleep. If he just said, “I’m a criminal defense lawyer” and nothing else, they’d have to fill in a lot of blanks.
This one-liner is short, sweet, and clear.
Create Your One-Liner or Elevator Pitch
Now that you have seen a few examples of good one-liners, it’s time to create your own. Answer the following questions, then put them together in a short sentence or two for your one-liner or elevator pitch.
Problem: What problem is your ideal client or customer experiencing that you have the authority and experience to solve?
Solutions: What do you do that solves the problem you just stated for your ideal clients or customers?
Success: After your customer or client has had their problem solved, what does success look like for them?
Write down brief answers to those three questions and then combine them into a short elevator pitch or one-liner.
When your response to, “So, what do you do?” is structured in the format of a story, it not only tells people what you do, it allows them to step into a story that leads them to success. When those people are ones who actually need your help, they’ll be asking for your business card or phone number in no time.
Need Help Creating a One-Liner or Elevator Pitch?
Still not sure if your one-liner is up to snuff? We conduct Brand Messaging Sessions with businesses to develop their overall brand story, or narrative, and create a one-liner out of that story. Schedule a call with us! We’d love to talk about how having a clear brand story and an effective one-liner can transform your marketing.
Get more like this directly to your email!
You have a great business, but you need more people to know about it. Subscribe to get regular tips on how to better market your business so it grows.