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Finding the essence of your business

Developing an elevator pitch

Ever heard of an elevator pitch? It’s a summary of an idea intended to interest the listener in the space of an elevator ride: 20 seconds. Developing an elevator pitch is also a handy process to help you hone in on what your business is, making it easier to pursue a vision and drive your branding and marketing.

Every business goes through an existential phase, questioning its identity, doubting its purpose. Often this happens in the start-up phase, but it’s not uncommon for established businesses to ponder the meaning of everything when it has undergone or is about to undergo a change. This exercise will help you consolidate what your business does and how you can best describe it:

Write down 2-3 verbs and 2-3 adjectives that describe your business.

Here’s an example:

Business Name: Wheel Life Motorhomes

Verbs: travel, experience

Adjectives: flexible, adventurous, comfortable

Work the words into one or two sentences.

Try to answer these five key questions in those sentences:

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  1. What does your business do?
  2. Who for?
  3. What’s in it for them?
  4. Why is your company different?
  5. What is your company?

[/ordered_list]

For example, this:

[ordered_list]

  1. What does your business do? Provides on-road accommodation.
  2. Who for? Driving holidaymakers.
  3. What’s in it for them? Comfort and flexibility.
  4. Why is your business different? All our motorhomes are 4WD.
  5. What is your business? Comfortable accommodation and adventure travel in one.

[/ordered_list]
Becomes:

Wheel Life Motorhomes provides on-road accommodation for driving holidaymakers so they have the flexibility to experience the country at their own pace. A 4WD and comfortable residence in one, a Wheel Life vehicle is the only motorhome that lets drivers travel for adventure or for leisure, wherever they find themselves.

Try variations to suit different situations.

You may be asked to clarify your business in a media interview, or you could have the opportunity to do a real ‘elevator pitch’ to a potential investor. Be aware that you’ll need to adjust the amount of jargon or technical terms you use according to the context. Some reasons you might need to adjust or focus on particular parts of your business:

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  • Talking to a potential customer: Corresponding the ‘who for?’ and ‘what’s in it for them?’ with who they are and their needs.
  • Talking to a journalist: Highlighting ‘what does your business do?’ and ‘why is your business different?’ (your unique selling proposition) to stand out.
  • Talking to a potential investor: Emphasising ‘why is your business different?’ and ‘what is your business?’ to match what they’re looking to invest in.

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Finding the essence of your business by honing in on what it does can not only renew your vision for the organisation, it also helps with positioning your business in the market and focusing your branding and marketing campaigns to reduce unnecessary activity.

What about you: Can you explain what your business is in a clear and concise way, for example to your mother?


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