“What does your company do?”

Whether you own your biz or just work at one, you’ve probably been asked this a bajillion times. It’s a simple question, but that doesn’t mean there’s a simple answer. In fact, this is an awesome opportunity to say something that’ll get that person interested in what you do, or your company – or, alternatively, slam the brakes on the conversation altogether. As a businessperson (or, let’s be honest, any person in a social situation), which would you prefer?

When it comes to your “elevator pitch,” there’s no one-size-fits-all response. Jabber on too much about what you do, and you risk coming off as self-centered or sales-y. Be boring, and you risk not giving the person enough details to ask a follow-up question. Use too many industry terms, and you might just get a deer-in-the-headlights stare.

The key is to know how to adapt your elevator pitch to the situation you’re in. Adjust it to the person who’s listening. Is he familiar with your industry? If there’s a strong chance he doesn’t know anything about your space, how do you explain it in terms that he can understand?

Answer the Initial Question

Take Joe, who works at an online marketing agency.

At a trade show among colleagues and peers, he might start his pitch with: “We work with Fortune 500 companies like ABC and XYZ to develop SEM and display campaigns.”

Since most people at the show are familiar with industry terms and acronyms, Joe can afford to be a little more specific and technical.

But if he’s at a family barbecue and talking to Steve, his cousin who’s a dentist, he might answer: “We help companies with their online marketing, including getting their ads placed on search engines like Google – y’know, those ads that appear on the top and right side of the page when you search for something.”

Cousin Steve might not know the first thing about search engine marketing (SEM) or display advertising, but he probably uses Google. By calling out something that Steve is familiar with, Joe can then further explain what his company does without alienating or confusing his non-marketing cousin from the get-go.

Follow Up with Why You’re Cool

Once you’ve established what your company does, you can go into a little more detail about why it’s cool and how you’re different from your competitors. Again, how you explain it depends on how knowledgeable the person is about your industry.

At the trade show, our bud Joe might follow up with, “We drive more than $50 billion in revenue for our clients and we’ve got some of the best media management, attribution and ROI measurement technology around, all wrapped up in a single dashboard. Our clients love having an integrated solution.”

At the barbecue, Joe might take a more educational approach and say something like, “Say you’re doing a Google search for new dental equipment. If I have a client who sells dental equipment, I make sure that their ads appear after you type in your search, whether it’s on Google or on another website you go to.”

Crafting an Online Elevator Pitch

The same approach applies if you need to introduce your company to someone via email or social media. Keep it to just a few words; this is no time for an essay, especially when you’re communicating via a tweet or Facebook post. The key is to include a link to your company website; that way, they can hop on over if they want to learn more.

For example, Joe might write, “We’re an online marketing agency specializing in paid search and display advertising” or, even more simply, “We’re an online marketing agency with Fortune 500 clients.”

No one knows your biz better than you, but be careful not to overwhelm or underwhelm the person asking about it.

How will you use these tips to deliver an elevator pitch that’s memorable?

© 2013 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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