Elevator Pitches: It’s Everyone’s Job

Pitch I'm not really one to write Startup advice, but there are a few topics that I feel rather strongly about and have found in my startup endeavors are actually helpful. 

Most of you reading this already knows what an "Elevator Pitch" is already, but for those outside of the marketing world your Elevator pitch is a short one or two sentence summary of what your product/service/organization does and what it's business strategy is.

Most people think that only your CEO, bizdev folks and marketing crew needs to have their elevator pitch down but that simply isn't the case, especially in the startup world.

In San Francisco there are tons of tech events people end up going to, some of them are hack-a-thons for developers and others are networking events.  If you work at a startup company, you'll eventually find yourself at one of these events and you will be asked "So where do you work? What does your company do?"

I've noticed most of the time, people end up asking me those questions just because they want to give me their elevator pitch and need a polite way to transition to conversation to their own company.  Either way, you're going to have to be able to sum up what your company does in as few words as possible and get the point across.  

Yeah, I'm looking at you developers and Q&A/Support staff.  I'm know all of this marketing speak hurts your brains and makes you want to gouge the eyes out of the startup douchebags who talk non-stop at you (usually about their product that is like Y for Z), but you're going to have to suck it up and toss out your elevator pitch.  It benefits your company and makes you look like you're more involved in your company than just the code or your realm of the code.

Elevator pitches can be really hard to come up with the more complicated your product or service is.  I couldn't imagine having to come up with an elevator pitch for Cassandra at marketing party to a bunch of folks who don't know what a distributed database is and why some one would use it. That being said, you have to make sure your elevator pitch is in simple plain English. A marketing guy's eyes are going to glaze over if you start talking about the Dynamo model or clustering and a programmer is going to decide they're done talking to you (marketing folk, I've got my eyes on you) about how their "value justification is a long-tail solution to cloud optimization for the content optimization for the BuyerSphere." Ew, I feel kind of dirty writing that sentence, but I digress.

I'm not saying that marketing folk aren't technically competent or developers have a short attention span…. but at a party you're one of a dozen people they've talked to and if you can't tell them something quickly and simply then you've lost your chance for a good elevator pitch. So do try to avoid too much technobabble or marketing buzzwords.  If you're super lucky, the person you talked to will remember your pitch and be able to repeat it to some one else. 




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