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Ding! Are You Going Up with Your Elevator Speech?

Shonika Proctor

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So what do you do? For more than a year and a half, after having attended dozens of Business Chamber Mixers, professional workshops and social networking events and failing to get good quality leads, I finally figured out the problem…I was literally answering the question. Who knew that what they asked, what they implied and what they meant would result in three completely different answers intended for three entirely different people? And being that I am a dominant right-brained, artistic and visionary being, I really didn’t need that much room for “creative interpretation. ” The question implied was “So what do you do…for your customers?” But what they meant was what specific value-add do you provide for your specific target profile customer? Indeed, how you create your 30 second elevator speech is both a science and an art. It is a science in that you need to know the proper elements to formulate it so that it doesn’t blow up in your face, and it is an art as far as the when, where and how you present it. In order to create an effective elevator speech that quickly pre-qualifies your target customer, there are three things that you have to clearly define and incorporate:

1. What is your great idea and, more importantly, what specific problem does it solve?

People tend to talk a lot about the importance of benefits, saving time, money and doing business more efficiently and what have you. But how can you make that tie back to you without sounding like everybody in your industry? The answer is you have to think back to why you started your business. The reason that so many of us started a small business is because we worked for another company; and after doing things the same old boring way for year after year, one day we thought of a new and better or faster or creative way to do things. These niche concepts are essentially what build the backbone of America’s thriving small business community. So think back to why you started your business. Whether you sell a product or a service, what specific problem was your business created to solve?

2. What specific customer is your specific solution geared toward?

Sometimes you will hear this customer profile type referred to as your “target customer. ” Yeah, exactly, what does that mean? Your target customer is a person or group of people that have to fit in a very narrowly defined profile. The target customer should be defined all the way down to their job title, geographic area, extracurricular interests, the kinds of publications they read and the kinds of places they most likely hang out. And why is this important? Because if you go to a general “small business” networking event where there are lots of other business professionals, networking can be like a shot in the dark. You may have to work a little harder to find a common thread and figure out how it is possible you can leverage each other’s pre-existing customer relationships. And, of course, everyone at the event is trying to do the same darn thing. After a few hours, you might get all disenchanted and weirded out because you are starting to feel like you are on a first date. The next thing you know, you are really reaching and getting creative to find that common thread. That is your right brain kicking in, LOL.

3. Seek out places where your specific target customer would most likely spend their time.

Use trade journals and industry specific websites to search their calendar of events. Think of places like conferences, trade shows, social networking events or workshops. I am not suggesting that you become a sponsor or try to get a booth, as both of those are not usually viable options especially for small businesses. But instead consider alternatives like being an event attendee, writing an article for the trade publication or organization that is hosting the function, offering to moderate a roundtable, host a workshop or be a speaker. Imagine if you defined your target customer as office managers at doctors’ offices that have 20 employees or less in blankety blank geographic area. I am sure you could probably easily think of three places right now where you could go and find those people. It would also be far less challenging than trying to decide which professional networking events you will go to in hopes of making those most promising contacts. Even if ultimately you may be attending a lot fewer events like medical conferences or seminars that have “sales people” there, your chances increase significantly of getting appointments because you would always be surrounded by tons of pre-qualified prospects.

Also, people would get to know you because they would see your face over and over again at all the different events and would start to leverage you as an industry resource. People buy from people they know and trust. You have to get your face or name in front of people six or more times for them to remember who you are. So bottom line, you need to find places where your specific target customers congregate and tell them directly what you specifically do for them.

When building the perfect elevator speech to use with your target audience at your industry specific event, you would introduce your name and the name of your company. Then you would say who you help to do what. Here is a 30 second elevator speech example: My name is Mary Jones of Medical Moneysavers and I help office managers at small medical offices (like yours) to cut their manual billing process in half by automating their system.

Your elevator speech tells them the what. Your first appointment tells them the why. And after the contract is signed, you show them the how.

Shonika Proctor is an entrepeneur, speaker and Author of ‘Sell Your Mind Not Your Time', A Marketing How to Ebook that will teach you how to work to the 23rd power, not the 23rd hour! If you are a new start up business or uncomfortable with marketing (online or offline) be sure to visit her blog, and check out her free articles, great resources and tips. While you are there, be sure to pick up your 33 Free Niche Infomarketing Ideas.


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