The 4 Components of a Compelling Elevator Pitch

Before you launch your product, service, or cause, you need “an elevator pitch.” This is a short summary of your product offering, including your target market and your value proposition.

Portrait of a Businesswoman in an Elevator - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/PlushStudios, Image #17385865

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/PlushStudios

The name comes from the idea that you should be able to deliver a succinct, compelling description of what you offer in the time it takes to ride an elevator up a few floors—approximately 30 seconds to two minutes.

The idea originated with entrepreneurs who needed to pitch their business proposals quickly to potential investors in order to secure funding. This enabled those same investors to quickly eliminate ideas that were ill-conceived or simply didn’t fit their investment profile.

Entrepreneurs often spend hours honing and practicing their elevator pitches. The stakes are huge. If they are successful and connect with a potential investor, they win the opportunity to present a more detailed business plan. If they don’t, they are sent packing.

The elevator pitch has become so effective that it is used in other fields as well. This includes publishing, movie-making, job interviewing, and even dating. It is a great way for both parties to cut to the chase and determine if there is a connection.

Why do you need an elevator pitch? I can think of at least three reasons:

  1. It forces you to achieve clarity yourself. I can’t tell you how many authors I have spoken with over the years who could not summarize what their book was about. They should have achieved clarity on this before they began writing. This is one of the main reasons publishers say “no.” It is also why you should strive for a clear elevator pitch before you do anything else. (This is the first thing I teach you to do in Writing a Winning Book Proposal.
  2. It helps you understand your prospect’s perspective. If you are going to connect with your target prospects, you must see your offering from their perspective. Moreover, you must understand their problems, their concerns, their hopes, and their dreams. Only then, can you put together an offering that they will find compelling.
  3. It provides a tool for enrolling strategic partners. In order to be successful in launching anything significant, you need help. You can’t do it all yourself. Whether it is a publisher, a record company, a booking agent, a publicist, a retailer, or a corporate sponsor, you need to be able to explain quickly what you are about. Only then can your potential partner decide whether or not he or she can help you.

Okay, so you’re convinced. But how do you craft a good elevator pitch?

First, understand that the pitch will be different depending on whether you are offering an information product (e.g., non-fiction book, speech, consulting service, etc.) or an entertainment product (e.g, novel, screenplay, comedy act, etc.). Note that when I use the term “product,” I am referring to your creative output regardless of the form. It could be an actual product, a service, or even a cause.

An elevator pitch for an information product should consist of four components:

  • Component 1: Your product name and category.
  • Component 2: The problem you are attempting to solve.
  • Component 3: Your proposed solution.
  • Component 4: The key benefit of your solution.

Here’s an example from my current project:

I am writing a new [Component 1] business book called Platform. [Component 2] It is designed for anyone who is trying to get attention for their product, service, or cause. [Component 3] I teach my readers how to build a tribe of loyal followers, using social media and other new technologies. [Component 4] I explain that it has never been easier, less expensive, or more possible than right now.”

An elevator pitch for an entertainment product should also consist of four components:

  • Component 1: Your product name and category.
  • Component 2: The main character’s ambition.
  • Component 3: The conflict he or she encounters.
  • Component 4: The real significance of the story.

Here’s an example from a mythical project about the modern composer, Eric Whitacre:

I am shooting an [Component 1] inspirational documentary called Cloudburst. [Component 2] It is about a young, extremely gifted musician who dreams of becoming a symphony conductor. [Component 3] The only problem is he can’t read music. As a result, no one in the music business will give him a chance. [Component 4] Yet he ultimately succeeds because of his honesty, optimism, and hard work.”

Obviously, pitches can vary widely, depending on your offering. Regardless, you want to create an elevator pitch that is clear and compelling. This is a prerequisite to attracting the partners and prospects you need to succeed.

Once you get your elevator pitch fine-tune, don’t deliver it like a mechanical parrot. Instead, do what Michael Port suggest in his excellent book, Book Yourself Solid, Chapter 4: use it as the foundation of a meaningful sales conversation.

Question: What is your elevator pitch? I’d love to get some great examples for my book! You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/evan.davis7 Evan Davis

    Great Post! Been trying to refine my elevator pitch. It goes something like this:

    I am producing a feature documentary film called It’s a Girl! In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls
    are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The
    United Nations estimates as many as 200 million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide”. The film tells the stories of abandoned and trafficked girls, of women
    who suffer extreme dowry-related violence, of brave mothers fighting to
    save their daughters’ lives, and of other mothers who would kill for a
    son. We have global experts and grassroots activists put the stories in context
    and advocate different paths towards change. Our goal is to educate and mobilize a movement of people who will fight to end what is quickly becoming the greatest human rights issue of our time.

    BTW, you can check out our new trailer at http://itsagirlmovie.com (shameless plug :)

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Evan, that was a good pitch. It made me go to your website and watch the trailer, at least :) The trailer was fascinating, and I signed up for your email updates. I look forward to the release!

      • http://www.facebook.com/evan.davis7 Evan Davis

        Thanks Robert! Very encouraging.

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  • Anonymous

    I’ll take a whack at it, please…

    I’m developing a content management system for local weather information.  Since there is no competitive advantage to automated weather data, local television stations, which depend on weather segments to drive viewers, need to provide better, digital weather strategies.  The Weather Drops system allows local meteorologists to provide personality driven information that directly affects local users on a time scale from 5 minutes to no more than 3 hours.  The current offerings provide “Partly cloudy, 72.”  A Weather Drop might read, “Watch out for tumbleweeds between now and lunchtime.  The wind will be gusting over 40 miles per hour.”  Local stations will be able to lure users back from national competitors and increase the number of user interactions by updating the data more frequently through the day, creating a better environment for advertisers.Thanks.

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  • Linda Jo Jenkins

    Thanks so much for this wonderful enlighting post! I have learned from reading all the pitches and the reactions. I will be refining my own elevator pitch!

  • http://radardetectorcatalog.com/ Alexander Thornade

    Interesting post!! I really like this site, and hope you
    will write more, thanks for your information.

  • http://twitter.com/GregLGilbert Greg Gilbert

    Thanks for the counsel Michael. I’ve trimmed it down to 78 words: I developed and deliver a management training course called Accountable Leadership And Results Management Training, ALARMT for short. Many managers are put in positions of producing results through others and are never provided the tools or refresher training to improve profitability and sustainability. Many still attempt to manage people instead of results. We provide those tools and refresher training in a one day, on-site, interactive session that eliminates manager travel expense and minimizes time away from the job.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent. I like it. Short and sweet.

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  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks Mike! Your series of posts relevant for creatives is a great source of advice for any aspiring writers. Thanks for the splendid job you are doing continuously.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Thanks for yet another creative asset!  As with several other posts recently, this one has been Evernoted for reference.

  • Anonymous

    I’m beginning today to coach a young author on a new book idea so this will make a very timely recommendation for him to resource. 

  • Tamara Vann

    Great advice! A winning elevator pitch will get business in the door. To keep it, however, you’ve got to back that pitch with quality and service. This video offers insights on why that’s important in all types of businesses: http://www.upyourservice.com/video-theater/service-culture-is-not-only-for-retail-and-hospitality-companies

  • http://www.needleforthechristianbubble.com Joe Lalonde

    I’ve yet to develop an elevator pitch. Thanks to this post, I’m now considering crafting a pitch.

  • Diana

    I have written the first of a series of three novels about the journey of  the ancient prophet Elijah, from his early life of searching for purpose to his final appearance in the afterlife.  In the first book, we follow Elijah as he first journeys to Samaria becomes connected to a crime, exposing the believers to possible imprisonment and death.  We see him grow from a headstrong, immature, seeker after God to one who is able to stand confidently before the king, but always wrestling with doubt. Is he really ready to take this step?  Is he really the person the others think he is?  Is he good enough to be of use to God?  Along the way he becomes friends with Obadiah, a double-agent for Israel and Judah who is employed as the king’s building director, a group of believers in hiding, Talib, an Arab, Azizah, a prostitute, Josiah, the leader of the prophets’ school, and Amanda, the first woman he has feelings for.   He learns various skills such as how to read the Bible thoughtfully, to listen to God’s voice, and how to pray and take action.    The purpose of the novels is to give the modern reader an accurate image of God, tools to connect with God on a personal level, and  a picture of what life lived with God might look like. 

  • Nedra Russell

    Here’s my pitch: “Adam’s Eve is an interracial romance novel. It’s about Eve St. John, a perfectionist who meets and falls in love with Adam Michaels, whose complete picture is breathtaking, yet less than ideal. Something in Adam’s past suddenly makes her shaky and cautious. Seeking God’s will, she travels to Kenya on a mission’s trip. While there, she meets another who tugs at her heart. Things take on a life of their own and Eve learns a difficult lesson – nobody’s perfect!”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/greg.brent Greg Brent

    Wow.  Great article and lots of very helpful comments from everyone.  Would love to get some reviews on the pitch below.  Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

    I own a marketing and event planning business called Music Powered Strategies. 
    Our purpose is to help artists plan, market, and connect to fans in the new world of music.
    We create innovative strategies that will help them provide
    visibility to their audience then utilize social media, and other digital media
    tools, to connect and develop relationships with their fan base. We are focused on empowering musicians, connecting fans, and making a difference in the world.

    Thanks,Greg

  • http://www.facebook.com/greg.brent Greg Brent

    Wow.  Great article and lots of very helpful comments from everyone.  Would love to get some reviews on the pitch below.  Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

    I own a marketing and event planning business called Music Powered Strategies.  
    Our purpose is to help artists plan, market, and connect to fans in the new world of music. 
    We create innovative strategies that will help them provide visibility to their audience then utilize social media, and other digital media tools, to connect and develop relationships with their fan base. We are focused on empowering musicians, connecting fans, and making a difference in the world.
    Thanks,
    Greg

  • http://www.StewardshipAdvisory.com Jeff

    This is my Elevator Pitch (forgive the highlighting as it’s to help me remember critical things.  Would appreciate your counsel!  Jeff Rogers

    What do you do for work?
    “You know, I have the best job in the world”!
     I help people:
    Ø Gain Clarity about their God-Given Life Purpose and Passions
    Ø Develop Increased Confidence and a sense of True Financial Freedom
    Ø I help them become Intentional about Creating a Family Legacy of Lasting Significance
    Ø Next, I Empower them to Impact Eternity through the Wise Stewardship of their Time, Talents & Treasures as well as their Leadership, Relationships & Influence
    Ø I then show them how to do all of that and get the Government to Pay for it through significant Tax Savings
    Ø And we do all of this through the Lens of Biblical Stewardship.
     
    Bottom line is I help people to develop a Strategic Plan for the rest of their lives with the goal of them hearing a “Well Done!” from our Heavenly Father.
    Jeff

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  • Anonymous

    “I am writing a leadership book titled ‘Creating Your Personal Life Plan.’ So many people have incredible ideas, passionate desires, and well-meaning intentions, but fall flat from achieving their goals and dreams because they get lost or distracted along the way. My book will teach the reader to not only figure out WHAT their dreams are specifically, but also to help them figure out HOW to chart a step-by-step course to seeing those dreams realized. In today’s world, where so much “noise” clamors for your attention, the key principles outlined in my book will work with you to keep your focus on the very destiny to which you were created.”

  • Gary

    The rocking acoustic duo, Garcia and Scott draws from a deep well of
    American music traditions. Think of them this way: dig a hole in the coal-black
    earth. Toss in a bucket-full of the Allman Brothers Band and Jimmy Reed, a
    shovel-full of  the Everly Brothers, fertilize with a
    trowel-full of Linda Rondstadt, Ella Fitzgerald and the energy of Tina Turner
    and sprinkle on some Latin-infused H-2-O. What bursts forth is a brilliant,
    bountiful bush filled with the fruit of fresh and flavorful acoustic music.
    Their energetic sound is uniquely…Garcia and Scott.  Find out more at:  www.garciaandscott.com

  • Debbie Frye

    Our book, Our Father Who Aren’t In Heaven:  A True Story of a Career Criminal.  Thirteen years after our father’s death, my sister and I were contacted by an adoptee looking for her birthparents.  From the limited information she provided and our initial research, we believed she was our sister and she was conceived in prison.  In the process of trying to help the adoptee we uncovered our father’s life of crime before he met our mother.
    http://www.OurFatherWhoArentInHeaven.com

  • http://www.orangedads.com Jesse Smith

    Thinking about modifying this for an upcoming announcement to our congregation…something along the lines of: 

    “This year’s Thanksgiving project is a remodeling of our space to provide for a central, easy to find Children’s Ministry Area. Our current areas are scattered, dated, and approaching capacity. By remodeling the four rooms in the southeast corner of the building and the current little lambs room we will have a central area, that appeals to our families and their children, is easy to use for our teachers, and provides room for those classes to grow in size. As we continue to reach out to families in our community, it is important that we are prepared to welcome them when they visit our building.”

    Then adding a call to action.

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  • eric silverman

    Thank you for pointing out the obvious.  However, having never looked it how to create the pitch your 4 bullets are perfect.

  • Adam Hoeksema

    Great elevator pitch tips.  I thought I would add an example elevator pitch as well:

    Do you purchase many of the same products at the grocery store each week or each month? [This leads the investor to say yes since we all do this at some level?]

    Don’t you hate the crowds at the grocery store, the lines to checkout, and unhappy workers? [Again you can lead them to say yes]

    What is those groceries you buy on a regular schedule just showed up at your doorstep? Each week you will receive an email with a list of the products that you typically purchase on that week of the month.  You simply uncheck any items that you don’t need that week and we find the store with the best deals and have the products delivered to your doorstep.

    We currently provide this service in 2 of the top 20 largest US cities and have grown to over 7,000 customers since launching 14 months ago.  Revenues are increasing 20% month to month. [Shows legitimacy, growth, and traction]

    We have raised 3.2 million in our Series A Round, and we currently need 15 million to expand our service to new markets. 

    Might I have your business card so I can follow up with a phone call?

    There are 6 more elevator pitch templates and real samples in my Elevator Pitch Toolkit on Amazon.

    http://www.amazon.com/Elevator-Pitch-Toolkit-Templates-ebook/dp/B006RL5C1S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325947908&sr=8-1 

  • http://www.thebusinessfox.com/blog Nancy

    The best point I read here is that crafting an elevator pitch gives you clarity yourself about your position, distinction, and unique value in the marketplace. Most of the others were good, but I didn’t see much here that was different from all I’ve read about elevator speeches.

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  • elevatorescalator

    Nice Post Michael.
    Elevator India

  • Schneider Elevator

    This four component is very power full to create elevator pitch ?

    and this is helpful for Elevator Companies

  • http://www.waynekroeplin.com Wayne Kroeplin

    Not sure if this comment area is still open but here is my attempt:

    I created a technology and innovation education curriculum for students who have the gift (super-power) of innovation and craftmanship. There are approximately 40,000 home school and private school students who have the gift (super power) but the parents and teachers of these students don’t have access to related training and curriculum materials and resources like most public schools.

    The courses I create fill this need and help homeschool parents identify, encourage and train students with this super-power. These courses will help parents and teachers to have the confidence, skills and resources necessary to teach these types of students.

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    Wow! That would be eye opening! Make your life easy with home lifts and Platform Lift. Aritco offers the home lifts with great comfort, satisfaction and beauty it will increases the value of your home.