Smartpedia: An elevator pitch is a concise verbal presentation of an idea that is promoted by name in an elevator to attract the interest of a decision maker.
Elevator Pitch – the Short Presentation of an Idea
A lift pitch refers to the concise verbal presentation of an idea within a short time – according to the name, the duration of a ride in a lift. The aim is to gain the interest of a decision-maker in order to promote
- an idea,
- a suggestion for improvement,
- a decision,
- a product or
- a service.¹
Clarity about one’s own position, goal or idea is the prerequisite for a successful short presentation.² This clarity becomes an advantage over all others who do not have the corresponding clarity or cannot convey it within a very short time. It helps to arouse interest, find fellow campaigners, outline positive perspectives and convey enthusiasm.
Alternative terms for Elevator Pitch are Elevator Speech and Elevator Statement
Situations and Areas of Application for an Elevator Pitch
There are countless situations and places in which an elevator pitch and thus the delivery of an intended message is called for:
- Even though the lift is the namesake for pitching compressed messages, in reality an elevator pitch rarely takes place in lifts. However, should the opportunity arise to promote an idea in the lift, in the corridor, in the coffee kitchen, in the canteen or at a parking machine, it is important to seize the chance.
- When it comes to telephoning, the message is also: “Keep it short and simple.” So: it’s all about the idea, the problem, the solution and the benefits.
Far from typical phrases, it is a good idea in job interviews to formulate yourself, your attitudes, motives or goals in a concise manner.
- Perhaps you are familiar with speeches at trade fairs or conferences that begin with “May I interrupt you for a moment?” or “May I ask you why you are here at the trade fair?”. To use the image of the lift: it has already reached its floor without the questioner having even the slightest chance of a successful pitch. A pity, really.
- There are events such as Bar Camps or Open Spaces where speakers are given the opportunity to promote themselves and their contribution for one minute at the beginning of the event: The aim is to motivate the audience to attend the lecture, e.g. because they can take something away with them (knowledge, news, an idea, etc.).
What these examples have in common is that communication preparation is possible in the run-up to a contact, regardless of whether the contact is made or not. Whether the contact is made or not can be a coincidence, but whether it is successful is not a coincidence. The better the preparation, the higher the chance of success.
Just as there are countless situations and places for an Elevator Pitch, there can be numerous areas of application:
- In the sales pitch, a salesperson tries to advertise himself, his product or his service within the shortest possible time.
- In a start-up pitch, business ideas are presented to potential investors. This usually happens in an orchestrated setting with various start-up representatives and one or more investors.
- In idea management or in the course of an ideation,
- in project management, when advertising for future projects,
- in project markets, when individual projects are looking for collaborators (project markets can be a characteristic of agile organisations),
- in development, when sales people promote the implementation of features that offer important benefits to their customers,
and in marketing, when advertising budgets are allocated.
In reality, there are almost infinite uses for the Elevator Pitch. The producer pitches his idea to the director, the software developer inspires his colleagues with a groundbreaking technology, and colleagues from middle management are looking for comrades-in-arms for a company spin-off. The closer one “looks”, the more often the elevator pitch can be found in daily interaction. One thing remains clear: with good preparation, an idea can be presented succinctly.
Tips for the Elevator Pitch
Even if the time is short, there are various pieces of information that could / should be part of an Elevator Pitch. Of course, the content and scope depends on the actual time available. Since this is usually unclear, in practice exactly one piece of information can be conveyed. This information must attract the attention and interest of the target person. At that moment. That means it must be catchy and memorable, and ideally contain a promise. A promise of what the idea, service or product will make better in the future.
Here are some important tips on the Elevator Pitch:
- A good idea is a prerequisite for a successful pitch, but excellent preparation is equally important. Practice the pitch to ensure it goes smoothly and with confidence. Adjust and refine it based on feedback and interactions in practice, as this is the only way to make the short presentation perfect.
- What good is a good idea and excellent preparation if you don’t have an opportunity for the short presentation. So create suitable opportunities. See when you can meet the target person in the coffee kitchen or in the car park to place your idea.
- Start with a hook: Begin your presentation with a compelling statement or question that grabs the listener’s attention.
- Clearly define the problem: Clearly articulate the problem or challenge that your product, service or idea solves. This helps the target person understand the relevance and value of your approach.
- Highlight your unique selling point: Stand out from the competition by emphasising what makes your idea stand out. Clearly communicate the unique benefits or advantages your solution offers.
- Use concrete examples or stories to illustrate the impact and effectiveness of your solution. This will make your short presentation comprehensible and memorable.
- Conclude your presentation with a clear call to action so that the target person takes the next step; whether it is making an appointment, trying your product or visiting your website. And make it easy for the target person to take the next step.
In marketing, there are various approaches that cast these tips into corresponding “formulas”.³ But you could also “simply” use the following sentence template:
“For [target group], with [problem or need], our product delivers [solution], with the promise that [key feature]. Unequalled by [main competitor], it’s [unique selling proposition, competitive advantage].”
To what extent this template really helps in practice, you are welcome to try it out for yourself.
Elevator Pitch Example
“Hello Mr. Meyer (CEO), Jennifer Mueller my name. I work in product development and have dealt with the problem X that our company has already had for 12 months. I have a great idea of how we can not only solve the problem at short notice, but also win new customers at the same time. We do it like Apple, but 50% cheaper. In just 10 minutes, I’ll outline the solution and the big advantage. Can you take these 10 minutes today?”
If there is a given time frame, e.g. for a presentation or a scheduled meeting, the following information could / should be transported (at least in parts):
- Entry: Who are you?
- Problem: Which problem do you solve?
- Solution: How do you solve the problem? Gladly argue with examples and pictures: “Like Google, only with language on the TV.”
- Advantage: What is the advantage of the solution? Is it a monetary advantage, does the image increase, are delivery times reduced, etc? Does the advantage express itself in ONE key figure?
- Time: Why is now the right time for the solution?
If the solution is a new product / a new market for the company, further information can be important:
- Market: Which market is it? Where is it, how big is it, which market shares and sales can be achieved in which time periods? As with the elevator pitch, it is advisable not to promise too much but to communicate a serious, well-founded position.
- Business model: How does the business model work to address the market with the new solution?
- Investment: How big is the investment to turn the idea into a product and to achieve market shares and sales?
And last but not least:
- Summary: A catchy message that summarises the whole in as few words as possible.
By the way: In 30 seconds, about 75 words can be spoken. With the Elevator Pitch, in addition to the information mentioned, the actual idea and the presentation, one thing is important: “Keep it short and sweet!”
Impulse to discuss:
Only those who are able to perform a good elevator pitch are able to sell a product successfully.
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 “Pitch” or “pitching” are terms widely used in the agency and advertising industry. Agencies compete against each other to convince clients of their merits, an idea or a concept. In order to create the same conditions for all participants, the available time is usually defined in advance; an essential difference to a “real” lift pitch, where the available time is unclear, provided it is actually a joint lift ride. Other differences include presenting in a team, using presentation materials or demonstrating prototypes.
 Some publications speak of a duration of 60 seconds. Such a duration is not set in stone and should therefore rather be understood as an indication to use the opportunity to create interest in a product, service or idea in a very short period of time.
 Here are some “marketing formulas” that offer support:
- AIDA – Attention, Interest, Desire, Action – generating attention, arousing interest, triggering desire and provoking an action e.g. through an appeal.
- PAS – Problem, Agitate, Solution this approach is about identifying the customer’s problem, addressing the associated pain points and presenting a solution for them.
- PPPP – Picture, Promise, Proof, Push. This approach works with a vivid picture or story to grab the attention of the counterpart, make a promise that appeals to their desires, provide evidence or proof to support the claims and conclude with a compelling call to action or a push.
- IDCA – Interest, Desire, Conviction, Action. This approach addresses interest and desire for a solution, the delivery of compelling arguments to support the value proposition and a strong call to action
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