Easy Steps to Write an Elevator Message

It's interesting how many business owners talk in circles when answering my question, "What's your business?" As an entrepreneur, you must always be prepared to answer this question within a few seconds.  Why?  Because you never know who is listening and how other people you meet may help you grow your business into a great success.  Having a concise marketing message is especially important if you are growing your business through referrals.

Entrepreneurs ask me for advice on new business ideas, or they already have a struggling business.  The first thing I ask them is, "What is your business?" To be a successful business owner, you must be prepared to describe your business to someone within seconds.

Your message should be short and to the point. It should take no longer to relay than it takes someone to ride an elevator for ten floors.

Many small business owners struggle with describing their business.  Whether you are a real estate agent, lawyer, CPA, life coach, or someone selling shoes, you should have a message ready to describe the customers you target, why you target them, and the results they get from buying from you.   

As part of the marketing strategy for my travel agency, I wrote an elevator message.  Here is the list of questions  I use to design a successful elevator message.  The answers to these questions will help you build this message.  The more specific you can be, the more clarity your message will offer to any listener, and your business's more significant chance of success to grow.

  • Who do I target?
  • Why do I target them?
  • Where are they?
  • What do I offer?
  • What results do my customers get from buying from me?

Using the above questions as an example, this is how I prepared an elevator message for my travel agency:

  • Who? I target timeshare owners and people who previously took a cruise for their vacation.
  • Why? Because statistics show timeshare owners take multiple vacations, and 80% of those who took a cruise will take another cruise within a very short time.
  • Where? Thousands of potential customers exist in the United States and Canada.
  • What? I offer uniquely designed flexible travel packages to meet a vacationer's wish.
  • What results did they get? Our customers receive customer service, flexibility, and financial assistance for their vacation plans. 

Our travel agency elevator message:

Travel Agency, Inc. provides North American travelers with a unique approach to vacation planning anywhere in the world.  Focusing on bundled vacations to offer the best value, our travel collections allow travelers flexibility in designing their vacation package.  The flexibility extends to affordable payment plans allowing for travel up to two years into the future, and within certain timeframes, travelers can make changes to their reservations.

 Using the above questions as an example, this is how I prepared an elevator message for my first business, a card and gift shop called "The Card Stop."

  • Who? I target train commuters.
  • Why? Each day, the same group of people walks by my store on their way to work.
  • Where? Hundreds of potential customers walk by my store, catching a commuter train approximately five days per week.
  • What? Products they can conveniently purchase quickly on their way to the train.  These can include items to use on their ride to work and products they can use while at work.  These items include snacks, newspapers, cigarettes, cold soft drinks, candy, and small gift items.
  • Results they get? My customers are in a hurry, every morning and evening, to and from work.  I make it convenient for them to 'pick up' items quickly and conveniently from a wide variety of products.

My elevator message for my retail business:

 Walking by my store, on their way to the train station for their daily ride to work,  commuters quickly pick up items they may use on their way to work or at their office.  Their purchases include newspapers, books, magazines, candy soft drinks, greeting cards, gifts, and cigarettes.

In the late 1990s, this is how I answered these questions to prepare an elevator message for my managing consulting business called "Actoras Consulting Group."

  • Who? Actoras targets Chief Information Officers who decide what strategies are needed to improve their company's technology performance.
  • Why? Statistics show that most companies select strategies offered by consulting firms with formal financial relationships with the most current software and hardware vendors.
  • Where? We target CIOs of the Fortune 1000.
  • What? I offer these companies strategic consulting services based on their own unique needs.
  • The results they get? Our clients receive a completely unbiased, technological solution designed for their own needs, by a consulting firm, with no financial vendor relationships.

My elevator message for Actoras Consulting Group

 Actoras specializes in offering unbiased technological strategies to CIO's of the Fortune 1000.  Our clients receive completely unbiased, technical, and business solutions based on their own specific, unique business needs. As a result, these companies spend less money on a more efficient and unique strategy than their competitors.

Here is the process I used to create an elevator message for my book, "A Dozen Avalanches Threaten Small Business."

  • Who? I target potential small business owners deciding if they should take the risk to start their own business.
  • Why? Because statistics show 20% of these small business owners will fail in their first year of business, and 85% will fail by year five.
  • Where? Statistics show there are over 22 million small business owners throughout the United States.
  • What? I empower them with the knowledge they need to beat the odds of failure from the wide variety of unique skills I developed from my 40 years of entrepreneurial experiences in the successful and diverse companies I owned.
  • The results they get? They have a better chance of becoming one of the business owners who thrive and create a sustainable business.

"A Dozen Avalanches Threaten Small Business," elevator message:

20% of all small business startups fail within the first year of business. I empower business owners by sharing my unique blend of knowledge developed from my diverse group of successful companies spanning my 30-year entrepreneurial career. Throughout the United States, I train business owners to build the skills they need to create a sustainable business and survive beyond five years.

An elevator message will be one of the most critical steps you take in creating your new business.  Spend plenty of time on this step.  Test this message on strangers to determine if they understand what you are selling, why you are selling it, and your customers' results.

An excellent place to test this message is with associations available in your industry or areas where you target.  See their reaction and ask people if they can provide you with referrals.  This action will be an indication of whether people "get" your business.

Written by Darlene Ziebell 

 

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