Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch

There you are, standing in a group of important new acquaintances and everyone is taking turns explaining what they do.  Your mind races furiously as you try to think of what to say that will make the best impression. Suddenly it’s your turn.  But when your big mouth opens, out comes a lackluster jumble that leaves your audience with more questions than answers – and of course you spend the rest of the day kicking yourself.  We’ve all been there. Some of us more than once. But don’t worry, unless you really blew it everyone has forgotten you by now.

An explainer video is very similar to this type of pitch. Important people come to your site, and you have just a few seconds to give a convincing case for how you can help them. But whether you are seeking to communicate in person or through a video, the impression that you give someone in the first 90 seconds can make or break your shot at a new opportunity. Our job is to help clients communicate as clearly and effectively as possible in these situations, and after hundreds of projects we have learned a few key rules that will help you craft an effective pitch. Here they are:

Rule 1: Know Your Core Message

This may sound obvious, but it isn’t easy and can require a lot of thought and adjustment. Your core message is ultimately the most important value you provide for your clients, not necessarily the actual service you offer. What is the difference? Technically we create “animated marketing videos”, but no one cares about that and most people have no idea what it means (it certainly doesn’t sound like a real job). But if I say that “we help clients communicate complex ideas as simply and clearly as possible through short videos”, immediately the person I am talking to not only understands what we do, he understands how it can help him and why it is valuable. A wedding photographer technically “takes pictures at weddings”, but since anyone can do that it should not be his core message. What if a photographer told you that he “captures emotions on film”? Now that is valuable.

Rule 2: Understand that Details Obscure Understanding

I am stealing this phrase from our Creative Director because it is simple and brilliant. Once you know what your core message is, adding unnecessary details will always detract from the power of the big picture and make your message harder to understand. For example, if I were to talk about the software we use to create explainer videos, or the wedding photographer were to talk about all his lenses, it would only add confusion and would not contribute to the perceived value of our offerings. The only details that are necessary are the things that set you apart (in the mind of your audience) from competitors with similar core messages. Do you provide better customer service? More experience? Special skills? These are the things that build your message. It almost hurts to think of the number of times we have seen explainer videos damaged by a client who is obsessed with details that his audience will not care about.

Rule 3: Only Use Visuals that Accentuate Your Message

For explainer videos this is the visual component that makes the pitch engaging, easy to understand, and memorable. We have learned that simple visuals of the highest quality are far more effective than complex graphics that overwhelm the message with distracting details. But how does it apply to an in-person pitch? It is the way you present your message. If you are bored with what you do, no one is going to care what you have to say. If you are too salesy, you will just turn off your audience. But if you really believe that you offer something of value, your body language will automatically accent your message for you.

When it comes down to it, nothing beats practice and preparation. You shouldn’t try to memorize exactly what to say, but if you have laid the groundwork and know what your core message and most important differentiators are,  your pitch will be far more successful, whether in front of a crowd or through an explainer video on your homepage.