The Perfect Elevator Pitch Contest – It's Your Time

The perfect elevator pitch for investors

The Perfect Elevator Pitch Contest - It's Your Time

Fast forward a little in the future. IT WORKED! Your perfect elevator pitch worked. You got that funding you needed.

How did that happen? You entered our contest and got the feedback you needed from an investor to hone your pitch.

Last week we launched a contest to create your perfect elevator pitch following a formula we know works. If you haven't entered yet -- and thereby gotten the chance for a free consultation with me to hone your own pitch -- please do! If you've already entered AND this blog gives you additional insight, enter again!

But before you do, here is a little more insight into what makes for a great (or a not-so-great) pitch . . .

To review, the three qualities that make for a great elevator pitch are that it is:

  1. Simple
  2. Exciting
  3. Intriguing

So as you go about crafting the perfect elevator pitch you want to keep those three qualities front and center in your mind.

Simple means clear and easy enough for a person to comprehend and repeat, not confusing. So avoid technical terms, arcane concepts, metaphors, unless they are really "sticky."

Exciting means, well, at least not boring and more than just interesting.  This usually means connecting with a deeply felt emotion of some kind.  Your pitch needs to connect with the listener emotionally in some deep way. Exciting is different from interesting. Exciting means it engages the listener's emotions, while interesting typically just engages their mind.  It's interesting that two-ply toilet paper is more absorbent than single-ply, but it's not very exciting. Feel clean and fresh all day; that may be exciting.

Intriguing means the listener wants to know more.  There is something left unsaid.  Sometimes, the way you say something can make it more or less intriguing. So this is where the words you choose can really make a difference. Advertisers and marketers are really good at this, so you may want to look at how some memorable ad campaigns are worded for inspiration. The same goes for those song choruses you just can't get out of your head. You don't have to be an English teacher to craft a good pitch, but you would do well to work with your words until they flow in an engaging way.

Now you also need to be aware of the three specific elements of a good elevator pitch:

  1. Mission or problem (stated simply)
  2. Strategy or solution (sounds exciting)
  3. Unexpected angle or special sauce (creates intrigue) 

Here is an example of a pitch that captivated tens of millions of people and that had all the elements required, plus the three qualities (simple, exciting, intriguing) we just discussed above. But before I share that pitch with you, let me share it in a not-so-compelling way.

Imagine that you are the CEO of a major products company and your R&D and Marketing teams are pitching you on a completely new, untested and never-before-tried product line. . . You have to decide whether to fund the project and invest millions in its manufacturing and marketing.

The Pitch

We've discovered that Americans are becoming more health conscious and they might consume less of our current product because of all the calories. But our R&D team has developed a version with fewer calories and we've done some focus group research. the results are that people will drink the lower calorie product even though it isn't as flavorful. So, we think this is the time to launch a new lower calorie product line and our marketing team has a concept: get famous sports celebrities to recommend it in TV and print ads.

What do you think? It does announce a problem/solution set and an "angle" on the marketing of the product. But was that pitch simple, exciting and intriguing? Could you repeat it to someone just from hearing it once? Does it leave you intrigued and wanting to hear more?

Be aware of the length of the pitch you're creating. It just can't be more than 15-20 words with three key concepts or nobody will remember it and effectively repeat it to others. Remember, a MAJOR goal for your pitch is that investors will share it with other investors.

Now here's a pitch I just heard:

  • Fatigue leads to accidents, lost productivity, health problems and worse.
  • We don't make mattresses for better sleep
  • We make mattresses for better awake.

Now, are you intrigued? Want to hear more? Thinking this might be a product that could really take off?

Well, it sure did, to the tune of a few billion dollars in sales and a series of hilarious television commercials that millions of people STILL remember thirty years later.

It can be fun and instructive to think of a well-known product and consider how you might create the elevator pitch that would first launch it, before it was a household name. What must have been communicated to investors or a CEO in order to get buy-in? How would you have conveyed it in a simple, exciting and intriguing?

Here are a couple of other elevator pitches that might have been used to get that first investor to back something new and unique:

  1. Our mission is to slow down climate change
  2. Electric cars reduce CO2 emissions but good batteries are too expensive
  3. Design cars today for batteries of the future

The company that might have (and in fact did) pitched itself that way is of course Tesla.

  1. Taxicabs are dirty, expensive, inconvenient and unreliable
  2. We enable people to pay automatically and ride in comfort
  3. Ride-sharing handled by mobile phones

That might have been the pitch that launched Uber. You can view their long-form pitch here if you'd like.

So have fun with this process! Create some possible pitches and try them on people. See how much they can recall after hearing your pitch once. Then keep honing it.

Remember that your goals for this pitch are:

  1. To get a full hearing from the investor at a later meeting; and
  2. To give the investor something to talk about to others -- making it viral

Now that you've had a refresher on the vital elements of a great pitch and some examples, why not enter our contest and see what you come up with, for your own elevator pitch?

Here is a template for your elevator pitch, intended for investors:

  1. Huge mission or problem: ___________________________________________________
  2. Your strategy or solution: ____________________________________________________
  3. An unexpected secret sauce: __________________________________________________

OK, you’re up to bat.  Here is the link to easily fill in the blanks on Survey Monkey.

The winners get a free one-hour consultation with an investor to refine their elevator pitch. Remember, this is a $500 value! We’ll announce the winners on a new blog installment in mid-June.

Best of luck - Rob