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Crafting an Elevator Pitch (with 3 examples)

The dreaded elevator pitch! How do you sell a complex idea to me in just sixty seconds?

Simple elevator pitch

Give me three things.

  • What’s the problem you’re solving for me?
  • How do you solve it? 
  • Why should I trust you?

The first two make up your value proposition. Note the emphasis is on how you are going to help ME, not on what YOU think is a brilliant idea.

The third question is the hardest sell: why should I trust you with my money or support? What is your track record? Who else trusts you?

Remember: three really is a magic number in storytelling.

Extended elevator pitch

Then there’s a longer version (for a slower elevator ride): put some POPP in your pitch.

  • Problem: what needs fixing right now?
  • Opportunity: where’s a good place to start right now?
  • Practical steps: if we do this, it won’t be easy.
  • Promise: but if we get it right, here’s how it will pay off.

Notice how this looks like a rollercoaster. It’s important to go from negative (the Problem) to positive (the Opportunity) and back down to negative again (for the Practical Steps). If you don’t do this, you make the whole thing sound too easy and destroy your credibility. Nothing good is ever easy – if it was, we’d be doing it already.

So let’s play this out with a real example from the TV industry.

“Right now we are losing young audiences really fast. But we are still the number one channel of choice for 16-24 year olds in the country. To halt the decline we need to make some tough decisions on scheduling, commissioning and budgets. But if we get this right, we can say to young people ‘if you turn on our channel you will always find something for you’.”

Can you see the POPP playing out?

Now let’s try another; this time it’s a start-up generated at random by

“Drivers hate parking tickets, but are willing to take a chance on not getting caught. The thing is, they’ve all got smartphones. If we can persuade enough drivers who have been caught to tweet their location immediately, we can create an early warning system to help other drivers minimise their risk of fines.” 

This is quite unethical, but you get the idea.

Now see how you’d pitch this idea. 

Or, get the Pitch Perfect card and work on your own pitch.

Now here’s a real example in response to a question from a Pip Decks customer:

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