Crafting the perfect elevator pitch, positioning statement, or mission statement can be really frustrating. Let’s face it, communicating what your startup actually does is hard.
As the Bob’s might say, “What would you say…you do here?”
After several rounds of edits and feedback with one founder, I received this text message.
Of course, it would be great if we could just hire a marketer to write this stuff for us, but In the early days, you as the founder will likely be the one creating pitch decks, investor updates, and product announcements that require the perfect elevator pitch.
Also, until you know how to explain what your company does, your team won’t be able to either.
You must lead the way.
[Tweet “Until you know how to explain what your company does, your team won’t be able to either. You must lead the way.”]
There is good news for you, though. Writing the perfect elevator pitch for your startup is a great way to gain your own sense of clarity. Even as my own company reaches more than 50 employees, I still find writing to be a valuable exercise.
That still doesn’t make it easy. Your product provides value to your customers in many different ways. Boiling it down can be a challenge.
While I don’t necessarily claim to be an expert at writing elevator pitches, here are several tricks that have helped me in the past.
Decide What You Don’t Do
You’ve likely experienced a situation where you know that you don’t like something, but you just can’t put your finger on why.
“I’ll know it when I see it,” you say.
In this situation, your no is more definitive than your yes, and that’s why this trick can help you narrow down your message.
You may find that deciding what you don’t want to say will come easier than deciding what you want to say. This trick can add clarity in your thinking, and ultimately help you determine what you actually want to communicate.
Use The Inverted Pyramid
The inverted pyramid is an old journalism rule of thumb that illustrates how information should be prioritized in a news report.
When you use an inverted pyramid, you always share the most noteworthy information first. Essentially, you want to try and keep important information ‘above the fold.’ Readers tend to spend about 80 percent of their time reading what’s above the fold without continuing toward the end of the article.
This method ensures that those readers always get the most important information right away.
For the purposes of writing a positioning statement, you need to be thinking about the top 1 or 2 things that you would communities above all else. Essentially this is a way to ask yourself, “if they only take one thing away from this, what do I want to be?”
If you can answer that question you are well on your way to creating the right positioning statement.
Rubber Duck It
Working in a startup, you may find yourself interfacing with a lot of software engineers and technical people. One of the techniques that they use for debugging code is something they call rubber duckling.
From Wikipedia: Rubber duck debugging is a method of debugging code. The name is a reference to a story in the book The Pragmatic Programmer in which a programmer would carry around a rubber duck and debug their code by forcing themselves to explain it, line-by-line, to the duck.
My advice is to act like you are explaining your product using simple short statements to a rubber duck. The trick here is to find a way to force yourself to make it is as clear and simple as possible.
Sometimes when I share this trick, it resonates better when I suggest they act they are explaining it to their mom. Ha!
Either way, this simple trick can really help you get to the point.
Ditch Weak Language
One of the things that often hinders good positioning statements and elevator pitches is weak language. A few examples of weak language include:
Words like ‘and’ add complexity and make it hard for listeners to understand your messages. While they may make you feel like you can cover more ground, they are probably diluting the message.
These types of words add unnecessary padding and uncertainty to your message. When positioning your company you need to project confidence. These words will set you back.
Here are a few examples of unnecessary qualifiers: Rather, very, quite, usually, generally, more, less, least, so, just, enough, indeed, still, almost, most, fairly, really, pretty much, even, a bit, a little, a great deal.
Spell it Out
Before writing your positioning statement or elevator pitch, try breaking down your business using a simple framework like this:
- For (target customer)
- Who (statement of need or opportunity),
- (Product name) is a (product category)
- That (statement of key benefit).
- Unlike (competing alternative)
- (Product name)(statement of primary differentiation).
Force yourself to fill in the blanks here with short statements that avoid conjunctions and qualifiers. Once you complete this simple (or difficult) exercise you should find that most writing tasks become much easier.
Say It Out Loud
For many of us, speaking is actually a lot easier than writing so one great trick is to simply record yourself talking. There are many times where I have used the text-to-speech feature on my phone to simply verbalize and communicate the message I am trying to convey.
Often times, I will end up with a lot of excess chatter, but also a few really good nuggets.
Using your daily commute to rubber duck your message using a recording or text-to-speech might be the perfect use of your time.
Write The Perfect Elevator Pitch In No Time
No matter who you are, or what you are writing, it’s not easy. Hopefully, these simple tips will help you write the perfect elevator picture for your startup and nail that pitch deck.