Who’s On First?


Abbott & CostelloIt is 2009.  A new year.  It is the perfect time to make sure everyone in your company is on the same page in regards to how they present what your company does.  


I am often amazed that even in the smallest companies discrepancies exist.  And if you can’t get your story straight, you can’t expect customers to truly understand what you do.

So what to do.  

Have all your employees memorize your mission statement?  I have seen it done and it doesn’t work.

Create the perfect elevator pitch* and print it on the back of their business cards? The elevator pitch is a good start, but if it feels rote, it won’t be believable.

The answer – create that elevator pitch, but help your employees make it their own.  Help them internalize the idea you set forth for your brand and let them express it in their own way.  That way it is delivered with conviction.

*Your elevator pitch is the 10 – 15 second description of why someone should hire your company.  If you don’t have one, creating one should be your 2009 resolution.

To see where you stand, conduct a simple exercise.

  1. Write down what you think is your elevator pitch.
  2. Have everyone write down what they think is your elevator pitch.
  3. Analyze the findings to see if everyone is on the same page.  Be honest and do not infer what people mean to say.
  4. If everyone is on the same page, great.  If not, you have a starting point to see what needs to be fixed.
  5. If the differences are significant try to identify trends.  Do the customer-facing people describe your company one way, and the back office another?  Do your long-time employees have a different perspective than your newer employees?
  6. Honestly assess the findings and determine if your elevator pitch is the best one or does a better solution exist.
  7. Present the final elevator pitch to your employees and have them write down what it means to them.  Doing so will help them internalize the pitch so they can it with conviction.

With any branding activity, it does require monitoring.  

Every six months ask your employees if they think the elevator pitch is still relevant to your audience.  This is a non-threatening way to get their input and to ensure they know how important it is to you.

If things begin to stray repeat the exercise outlined above. 

2009 is going to be a tough year, but those who take the steps to keep their brand relevant and communicate it properly will succeed.  

Starting with a consistent elevator pitch is definitely the way to market smarter.



Filed under Elevator Pitch

5 responses to “Who’s On First?

  1. Peter Jardine

    I agree. One of the things that I think is left over from the late 80’s is the mission / vision statement. While the intent of these devices is along the lines of what you suggest in the blog, very few companies actually get it right, ever. Hence, the effort is wasted and worse than useless. Usually, I find that if the Mission Vision Statement was professionally facilitated, the guy was not very good at getting to the essence of the brand promise (if indeed there is one to start which also is usually a large part of the problem). I find that most often where these things go wrong (sad to say) is at the CEO level particularly with a public company. These individuals, often great leaders, lose sight of who the mission / vision statement is for. They almost always think the target is Wall Street (who is their primary focus) – but it isn’t, not even close.

    Rather the mission and vision statement is for the employees – it should not be a laundry list of what the company does, anybody can do that – it is your promise and what makes you different. These statements (elevator pitches too) should be void of all of the clutter about shareholders and words like “be the best” and all of that. They tend to lack the emotional connection with which the reader can connect. The result is a flat, weak often disjointed collection of words that fall far short of their intention. When they work well, they are short (very), evoke an emotional response, are telegraphic and easy to digest, achievable but not fully achieved – and above all true. If it lacks truth, these statements will have the opposite effect on the company, misalignment (or as likely, it will be utterly ignored).

    One more thing about the CEO’s role in this and letting go of Wall Street, the most important thing Wall Street wants to see is that the company and its leadership is focused on the main purpose of their business, that they understand what is best for the company in terms of their customer relationships. With this overt, conspicuous focus and a track record of solid results, Wall Street gurus will firmly believe that the company is worthy of investment not just because the Mission statement says so but becasue they are not distracted. Keep the main thing, the main thing and the rest will fall into place.

  2. AP

    Ok, so I work for as an independent contractor and out of 78 agents in my office, we’re likely to get 78 different mission statements since we’re all ICs. Cool, That’s the way its suppose to be when your in a business that employs self-employed people.

    Here goes my pitch; I help manage the wants, needs and emotions of people when it comes to buying and selling real estate.

    Why can’t I just say that I’m a realtor?

  3. My response is simple (and I’m not trying to be harsh), but so what? In your office alone there are 78 realtors all who help manage the wants, needs and emotions of people when it comes to buying and selling real estate. Why would I choose you over them?

  4. nice. I’m enjoying reading your blog, and I love this one…can’t wait to try it. It’s interesting how many great tips we all already know, but its hearing (or reading) someone else say them that reinforces the important ones.

  5. @Asabend Interesting. My elevator pitch depends on who I am talking to: Buyer or Seller.

    These are the reasons why people should hire me:
    Relentless, I hate losing. Every house under my charge must sell. I use the power of traditional marketing and information technology to attract the greatest number of buyers, which leads to the best sales price possible.

    Every buyer that comes to me, I can find them a house in 3 weeks or less. I have it down to a science. I am a good listener and if the buyer is honest with me, I can have them packed and ready to go in 30 days.

    Ok, so I have to work on my elevator pitch. Your comment made me think of why people should choose me, rather than explaining what I do on the back end, which is managing the transaction.

    I’ll work on it!

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