The Elevator Pitch: 15 Second Marketing


I’ve been thinking about elevator pitches lately.
The elevator pitch is one of the most difficult aspects of marketing for me (aside from the walking up to perfect strangers and asking them to give me their time and/or money).

Because my product is discovered and accessed online, I’m lumping this verbal pitch in with a short textual one that people will read on an About page, or a description that they’d see on a community site or in a forum profile.

If you offer a service or have a product like a book or comic, you need to have your 15-second marketing spiel chambered and ready to fire into the face of anyone who’ll listen.

So, how does one successfully convey a lot of information, enticingly, in a short amount of time? I’ve been thinking about this aspect of marketing for a couple of reasons.

1) I want more traffic coming to my site and more readers of my comic. But I have a big challenge: the Q-Burger storyline is rapidly becoming too dense and impenetrable. And knowing what I know about Season 5, it’s not going to get any better. So I need to find a way to interest readers quickly and entice them to join up.

2) I’m developing a new strip. Which means that I’m going to be faced with the same challenges, only with a new and even MORE unknown property.

3) BONUS REASON: I’ll have TWO strips to pitch to people. How in hell do I do that?

Before I took on my current gig of full-time child-wrangling, I spent a couple of years as a freelance copywriter and web/print designer offering a very wide range of services. This is great from a flexibility standpoint, but it’s a pain from a “Quick, tell me what you do and make me understand it all instantly so I can pass judgment” perspective. I had a lot of trouble finding the right balance of informing and selling.*

Steve Pavlina’s suffered through similar problems when trying to sum up a broad range of services and talents into a sentence or two, and he’s written a lengthy post on the subject:

I’ve struggled with crafting a good elevator pitch because I do a lot of different things. For starters I’m a blogger, an author, a speaker, and an entrepreneur. But I don’t identify with any of those exclusively.

Often when someone asks me what I do for a living, I’ll say, “Well, it’s a bit complicated because I do a lot of different things.” Then I’ll mention some of the things I do. Typically the other person will give me a strange look while they process this overload of information, and then they’ll say something, “Ok, so you’re a writer?” And then I’ll have to explain some more.

As the creator of a weekly webcomic and writer of a blog, I’m once again faced with these challenges when explaining things to friends and family, when I’m writing an About page, or when I finally embark on a concerted effort to bring in new readers and increase traffic.

Originally, the strip was supposed to be about a fast-food crew and their restaurant. But now, the story has gone wildly astray and grown huge and sprawling. Which is incredibly fun for me to write (sometimes), but which exponentially increases the challenge of bringing a new reader up to speed.

*Ironically, I have a much more difficult day-job now, but my elevator speech was incredibly easy to create. “I’m a stay-at-home dad and I take care of two kids, age two and nine months.” I always get the desired reactions from the people I tell: Admiration and/or pity.


15 Second Marketing –


6 thoughts on “The Elevator Pitch: 15 Second Marketing

  1. Shane

    I’ve heard all about the elevator pitch. Also called the Skyway Pitch in Minneapolis. Don’t follow that Pavlina guy’s example. Talk about having too many irons in the fire. There’s a pretty obvious line between bragging and selling someone on what you do and love. If someone tells me “I’m an entrepeneur, author, speaker and blogger” my first thought is not “I gotta do business with enterprising individual,” it’s “make up your g***amn mind,” or “you’re probably not very good at any of them, then.”

    You have great material for an elevator pitch. You’ve been developing a comic for 4 years, and have probably learned a lot about developing web content and format along the way. I’ll bet you could come up with one or two solid pitches based on this foundation.


  2. Martin

    Funny enough I need to do the same when it comes to old tools, especially anvils. While you can occasionally get lucky and find something good at a flea market, garage sale or antique store more often you’ll get better luck with good old networking. Talking to anyone you bump into about your unusual hobbies will occasionally result in “You know, my Aunt Ester has an anvil in her shed, it has been there for years.” And if you leave a big enough impression the networking doesn’t stop with the person you talked to. My last anvil came to me from 3 degrees of seperation.

    My only problem is that my hate and loathing of everyone in general makes the whole talking-to-people thing difficult.


  3. Ms. Huis Herself

    Huh, I think my dad once helped Martin get an anvil, in fact…. 🙂 And if he ever comes across one at a farm sale, I bet he thinks of him.

    Anyhoo, this might not help with your 15-second spiel specifically, but I recently read “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” by Chip Heath & Dan Heath. Fun read, and yes, very “sticky” – I can still tell you that the 6 characteristics of a sticky idea are that it’s simple (core), unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional and has/is a story.

    I read it a couple of months ago. To have a 6 part outline like that stick in my (also SAHP) head tells you they’ve got some good info there.


  4. javen

    @Shane –
    Good points all. I think there is a way to include them all under an umbrella pitch. It’s coming up with that pitch that bamboozles me. (And sorry about not showing your comment sooner…wordpress didn’t like the look of you for some reason. Shouldn’t be a problem going forward)

    @Ms. Huis Herself –

    I think I’ve heard of that book. I’ll put it on this list of “Check this book out” books.


  5. Shane

    The nice part about an elevator pitch is that it can evolve rather easily. You’re not married to it, and should always be tinkering with it. I like the sound of MHH’s principles. I think it’s missing one, though. You can’t separate who you are from what you do when you’re marketing. You’re selling yourself. Not in a Bangkok kind of way, but in a “I’d be a great person to work with” kind of way.

    So the person needs to see that you really like what you do. Not so much the content of the pitch as the delivery, I guess. It’s not just the information you’re conveying about what you do, but also (and equally important) how you feel about what it is that you do. Maybe you never had to worry about that in the first place, but I think it’s a vital element to any pitch.


  6. BrentLundeen

    Well excitement is contagious. Get someone interested in “what the heck is so exciting to that guy”? People are drawn to passion they can feel and interact with more than a monolouge of information. 15 seconds is hardly time to say “hello my name is….”. But in that 15 second spirit, and building incrementally, say just enough to illicate a response or query. That way your pitch can evolve as Shane commented earlier and also is expandable. Test different tibits with different kinds of people and see what sticks what kinds of questions they elicit and what comes from you most naturally. thats my thoughts…..



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