Summer is winding down.  Labor Day is almost here.  Kids and teachers are reluctantly heading back into the classroom.  Another Summer come and gone.  As we transition to a new season and return our full attention to our work, I thought I would share an interesting observation I had this Summer that relates to our professional lives.

Throughout the Summer, most of us are constantly coming and going.  We’re coming from one cookout, heading off on vacation, entertaining family and friends, going to outdoor music festivals, shuttling kids from one camp or sporting event to another, and then off to a wedding or reunion.   It can be tiresome.  And, frankly, many of us welcome the quieter times of Fall.

We meet a lot of people during the Summer.  It’s a social season.  And what I noticed this Summer is that some people I meet are really, really good at their ‘intro spiel’ that they give to others as they introduce themselves – otherwise known as the elevator pitch.  Many of us are familiar with the term elevator pitch.  Some maybe not.  I teach it to my college business students as it relates to  meeting with recruiters at job fairs and interviews.  I also assist companies with their pitch as well.  We work hard on this – because a really crisp, polished elevator pitch works miracles.  It takes quite a bit of thought and practice for your pitch to roll easily off your tongue in pithy, seductive sound bites.

Some people I met this Summer seem to be naturals at their elevator pitch – brief, descriptive, interesting little info-mercials on ‘who they are’.  Where they’re from, what they do for work, what their interests are.  On the other end of the spectrum, some people really struggle with their elevator pitch.  Most of us are somewhere in the middle – not great, not terrible – leaving plenty of room for improvement.

Elevator pitches are powerful tools in the business world, too.  When you meet someone for the first time in a business context, you have about 1 minute (maybe 2) to grab someone’s attention and leave them wanting to learn more.  That’s all an elevator pitch is – a short, sweet, informative paragraph about what your company does.  If you stammer around in a vague way – not only is it a confusing waste of time, people tune out.  And, if you drone on too long – people start looking for the door.

I’ll share with you a brief story from this Summer that stands out.  I’m at a neighborhood party and there were four of us standing around chatting and having a cool beverage.  I wanted to introduce two of the people professionally, because I felt there was the chance they could work together some and help one another.  I tee’d it up by saying something like, “hey you two could potentially help one another – why don’t you talk a bit about what you do?”  The first person nails it.  A smooth, 1-2 minute spiel on what her company does.  It was fantastic.  Then it was the second guy’s turn.  He starts into a 10 minute rant on why his industry is so screwed up and too stupid to recognize the value in their company’s service.  It was pitiful.  As eyes began to roll, I stepped in to cut it off and try to salvage the damage done.  But, I’m guessing it was too late.

The interesting thing about company elevator pitches is that the very best ones are constructed with the three tenets of a successful marketing strategy:

1) what you do,

2) how you’re unique, and

3) who you serve.  

As we transition into Fall, set aside some quiet time to think about your company’s elevator pitch.  Discuss it with your sales and marketing team and other people closely involved in the day to day marketing of the company.  Is you elevator pitch tight?  Does it leave people wanting to learn more?  Does it clearly articulate what product/service you provide, what problem you solve, for whom, and how you’re unique?  Is everyone on the same page as to what your company’s elevator pitch is?

This sounds really basic and simple, and is often swept under the rug as too insignificant to spend any time on.  But, it’s not.  It’s crucially important.  The most successful companies have this wired.

Here are a few brief articles for you that may be helpful if you are interested in learning more:

Good luck!