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 business that is struggling. 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.
Using the above questions as an example, this is how I prepared an elevator message for my travel agency:
Our travel agency elevator message:
Travel Agency, Inc. provides North American travelers with a unique approach to vacation planning for 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."
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."
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."
"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 over my 40-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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