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Replace Your Elevator Pitch With Your Elevator Story

Recently someone said to me, “I’m getting bored with my own elevator speech. I feel like I’m putting everyone to sleep … even me.”

No wonder.

My own intro to the elevator speech was the Basic Option 1: “You know how stressed-out people get when they are changing careers? Well, I have a three-step system …”

Then there’s the variation, “I work with stressed out corporate executives who want to find a new career while they’re still employed.”

As a copywriter, I get tempted to add an edge to these openings. We could suggest something like, “I work with corporate executives who are one step away from a career meltdown, but want to stay employed while they … “

Sounds good … almost too good. Good copy is invisible, like good authors of novels. When your audience starts to think, “Wow, that’s really clever!” they stop paying attention to the message.

It’s like watching that commercial where the dog gets a beer from the refrigerator and then we hear lapping sounds. I loved the commercial but couldn’t tell you the brand of beer. Instead, take another page from the copywriting books and replace your elevator speech with your elevator story.

Elevator Story Examples

Some time ago I met a prosperity coach who opened with, “I help clients manage their finances. For example, one client was a recently divorced woman who just suffered a devastating financial loss. She was afraid she’d have to declare bankruptcy. Two years later, she’s living in her own home and buying investment property.”

Everyone in hearing distance leaned over to ask her, “Can I have your card?”

One of my own stories goes like this: “For example, one client had a beautiful calling card website but all the revenue came from face-to-face networking events. We overhauled the website, added an e-course and created a section to showcase her services. Now the website brings in serious inquiries. She’s beginning to close sales after a single phone call.”

For a successful elevator story:

(1) Use real people and tell the real story. Resist the temptation to invent characters or exaggerate.

Typically your elevator story will include your client as hero and yourself as the guide.

(2) Incorporate an element of surprise.

The best elevator stories begin with the hero in a really tough position. For a financial consultant, the hero’s credit cards are maxed out, she has little in savings and her situation seems hopeless.

For my clients, they’re losing money because they need a website or sales letter. They’re nervous: their last suppliers disappeared, leaving the job half-done. Or they’re too busy with the rest of their business and they’re feeling overwhelmed.

(3) Cut to the bare bones information.

“Family, deep in debt, bad credit rating, want to buy a house.” That’s really all you need for the financial planner story.

“Business owner, tight deadline, not clear on message, need to launch a new program.” Those are the ingredients of a story I might share.

Colorful details will be effective when you’ve got a captive audience for a webinar or speech — but even then, keep them to a minimum. Get them involved in your story right away: you just have a few minutes to engage them.

(4) End with a happy outcome for your client, not a sales pitch.

If you’ve done a good job and you’ve chosen the right audience, they’ll be asking, “How can I get that?”

(5) Focus on your client, not your origin story (“how I came to be here”) or your hero’s journey story (“how I struggled to get here”).

All too often we hear a life history story or a hero’s journey story.

“I started out teaching school, but realized I couldn’t earn the kind of money I want. So I set up a business and became a professional corporate trainer.”

“I’d just lost my job. I was dead broke and reduced to sleeping on a mattress in a church basement. Then I started a blog on the library free computer. And today I’ve got an empire.”

These stories have their place, as I discuss in my Amazon kindle book. But in the few seconds you’re allowed on an elevator pitch, focus specifically on how you’ve helped your clients.

The idea is to get your audience supremely jealous of these people: “I want what they’ve got. How did that woman get out of debt and into her own home? How do I get those results?”

And then they want the same thing for themselves.

I’m Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., a copywriter, storyteller and small business branding strategist. I would love to connect with you. If you are a service-based business seeking to differentiate yourself in the marketplace, check out my free comprehensive workbook From Story To Standout Brand: Your 3-Step Blueprint.” Discover how your personal brand helps you create compelling copy, strengthen your message and establishes your consistent, memorable presence online.

This post is based on my Amazon kindle book: Grow Your Business One Story At A Time.

*** “Everything’s easier when you do it with stories.”***

Helping entrepreneurs and independent professionals grow their businesses one story at a time. http://cathygoodwin.com

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