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The Importance of an Elevator Statement

Neil Sagebiel

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“Please, God, don’t let me follow the police officer. "

It was career day at Floyd Elementary School and I visited my daughter’s kindergarten class to explain what I do for a living. It was my Dick Van Dyke moment.

For those of you who are relatively young or haven’t seen reruns of the “Dick Van Dyke Show, " there’s an episode in which Rob Petrie (played by Van Dyke) visits his son’s class to talk about his occupation as a TV comedy writer. Petrie’s son and the class are less than thrilled.

How did it go for me?

Fortunately, I didn’t follow the police officer. He passed around handcuffs and a flashlight. I passed around an ad board. Lame, I know. But what’s an advertising copywriter to do?

Trying to tell kindergartners what I do in a few minutes reminded me of the importance of an “elevator statement. "

An elevator statement is a concise, clear description of a company, organization, product, or service. The idea is that if someone in an elevator asked you what your company does, you can deliver a memorable answer in the time it takes to travel a couple of floors.

While some people think it’s a pitch, I consider it a short statement or even a one-liner. One public relations firm calls it “the shortest possible explanation of what a company does. "

An elevator statement is not a tagline or slogan. Nor is it a positioning, vision, or mission statement. It can be rehearsed but should sound conversational.

Following are two examples of a simple elevator statement structure.

“I provide copywriting and creative services to companies and ad agencies. "

“Acme Worldwide manufactures heavy duty widgets for the construction equipment industry. "

If after saying your elevator statement prospects want to know more, be sure to get their business card before they step out of your life.

Give them your business card, too. But without theirs you can’t follow up.

Copyright (c) 2007 Neil Sagebiel

Neil Sagebiel is a former senior copywriter for a Seattle B2B ad agency. This article was originally published in his monthly ezine, Headlines from Floyd .


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