Don’t Drive Angry.

In honor of Groundhog Day and one of my favorite movies by the same name, I wanted to recall a blog post from a little over a year ago regarding the elusive elevator speech.  It continues to be a hot topic with many of my clients and networking groups.  While getting it right takes work, once it is done it can make the difference of whether or not you get your foot in the door.

Originally Posted January 5, 2009

I am often amazed that even in the smallest companies discrepancies exist between how employees convey the company story.  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 a priority.

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.

What is your elevator speech?  Help each other out by posting your in the comments section.

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