Optimize My Brand

Strategy, tactics, ideas and tips from Creative Company.

An elevator pitch example … think positioning statement

Express “who you are” quickly.

Just what is an elevator pitch, anyway? An online search reveals, “a succinct and persuasive sales pitch” derived from “the idea of having to impress a senior executive during a brief ride in an elevator.”

elevator-pitch-exampleCool. Use words that grab attention and create interest.
Get to the point, fast.

Here’s more description of an elevator pitch from Mind Tools:

An elevator pitch is a brief, persuasive speech that you use to spark interest in what your organization does. … A good elevator pitch should last no longer than a short elevator ride of 20 to 30 seconds, hence the name. They should be interesting, memorable, and succinct.

Excellent description. I especially like “interesting, memorable and succinct.”

Hmmm … sounds to me like a good positioning statement.

Let’s follow this idea a little further with a deeper review of messaging hierarchy

Messaging begins with a brand promise.

Messaging hierarchy is your verbal brand, a well-crafted series of messages created to express the value you offer to your target audiences.

Your hierarchy begins with a brand promise and positioning statement. The brand promise is a brief statement which connects to the name. For example:

  • Disney – The happiest place on earth.
  • Avis – We try harder.
  • Nike – Just do it.
  • Budweiser – The king of beers

That brand promise can be descriptive (the king of beers); a call to action (just do it); or a connection to the audience (the happiest place on earth, or we try harder).

Often called a tagline or slogan, we use the term “brand promise” because that key statement must offer a promise to the audience.

Here’s how we describe the concept of a brand promise:

Your brand promise, often called a tagline, is the promise made to your customer, understood by your employees, suppliers and business partners, and reinforced by an institution-wide commitment. The result? The brand promise is reflected in all products, services and policies. The brand promise expresses the value proposition from the customer’s perspective. It articulates the business concept from the customer’s point of view, in their terms. And it remains a promise from the organization to the final recipient of the product or service. The brand promise appears with the company name.

The positioning statement goes deeper.

At its core, your positioning statement defines who you are … most importantly, from your audiences’ point of view, not your own. It expresses a central idea that’s both memorable and desirable. It summarizes an organization’s purpose or reason for being.

Positioning defines what makes you unique and valuable to your audiences. It separates you from your competitors and from others in your category. The concept must resonate with your target audiences. And we often we create different versions targeted to different key audiences, based on what those audiences want and expect.

How we describe the positioning statement in our messaging hierarchy:

The positioning statement is the single concept or impression that should come to mind when someone thinks of the organization—the thing that distinguishes you from competitors. The positioning concept influences all aspects of the program’s messaging and expression.

Your positioning statement is not a list of your products and services. Nor is it a story of your accomplishments or history. And it’s certainly not profiles of technical expertise or the leadership team.

Instead, in language that is vivid and specific, not generic and broad, it compels one to listen and/or read, perhaps to ask, “tell me more!”

Isn’t that what an elevator pitch should do?

Inspire interest?

Generate questions?

Compel response?

Then is positioning the mission and vision?

Short answer–no.

Positioning, like the elevator speech example, is focused on the target audience who will engage (we hope). We want people to respond, ask, connect, or interact in some way because what they’ve learned about you from the positioning statement creates interest.

Mission and vision are internal, offering a “where are we going?” answer to internal staff and leadership. Without getting into a lot of detail, here’s a succinct description of mission and vision and their differences.

Mission Statement defines the company’s business, its objectives and its approach to reach those objectives. A Vision Statement describes the desired future position of the company.

As you can see, the big difference is these are descriptions in and of themselves. Hopefully inspirational. Yet not crafted from the external perspective of the audience. Positioning MUST answer “why should I care?” and “what’s in it for me?” from the audiences’ point of view.

So many words. So many statements. All of these–Mission, Vision, Positioning, Brand Promise–are useful, really.

But back to the question, is an elevator speech an example of a positioning statement?

Think of the idea behind an elevator speech … a pitch to someone in a short time, a quick description of why they should look further, consider a meeting or possibly invest. It must be targeted to that audience, to answer what they need to know so they will respond.

You don’t want your target to just think, “oh, that’s nice” and then walk out when the doors open.

You do want this person to be excited about the possibilities. Or your goal is to have him/her invite you to present to the team or company. Or, perhaps, invest. Or just share your story or idea. Most of all, you want a response.

When your elevator speech is too long …

I once had a client who hired me for messaging because “my elevator speech is too long.” She was stuck in describing all the amazing things her software could do (features), but had not defined the outcome and result her customers/audiences experienced. She hadn’t answered the “why should I care?” because she was focused on the very complex and confusing “here’s what we do.”

Bottom line … do you see where I’m going?

Yes, an elevator speech is a positioning statement, or at least a version of it. In the context of an elevator speech, it may be tweaked for a specific “ask,” yet the core ideas have the same purpose. Inspire interest. Create response. Cause action.

No matter what you offer, it’s vital to communicate in clear and concise language what you provide that delivers what your audiences want, seek and expect:

  • The problem you solve for them
  • The experience they will have
  • The result they can expect from your product or service
  • The goals they can realize from what you provide

Remember, they’re not buying a drill, they’re buying the hole it makes.

Let me know if you want to talk more about the process of crafting a messaging hierarchy. You can also download our guide below to see the various levels of the hierarchy and examples. Or you can drop me an email here.


You may also find these other discussions of positioning and messaging valuable.

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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