Branding & Messaging

Time to Kill The Elevator Pitch

It’s Time to Kill the Elevator Pitch

I’ve probably written or refined more than 200 elevator pitches over the years—you know, the short blurb that you’re supposed to memorize and be ready to spew out in the time that it takes to impress a prospect during an elevator ride.

The concept behind the elevator pitch makes sense. You need to be able to tell someone about your product, service, or organization quickly and clearly. And yes, you need to be prepared to do so. 

However, when you stop thinking about “pitching” and start thinking of it as sharing or educating, you can turn a dry, planned pitch into something much more useful: a conversation. 

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Think about who you help and how you help them. Then write down several short statements about how you solve their problems or make a difference. These will become what I call your “library of nuggets.” Some examples: “I help people overcome their fear of public speaking.” Or “Our app helps people create secure passwords and use them conveniently on all of their devices.” Be sure to include a few nuggets about why your solution is better than others.
  2. When you meet a prospect, find out who they are before you tell them about yourself. This will not only make you more approachable (you’re showing them that you care about who they are and what they do), it will also allow you to steer the conversation in a way where you can connect with them and start a meaningful conversation.
  3. Once you know who they are and what their world looks like, pull from your library of nuggets to tailor your conversation to their specific perspective and needs.
  4. Try to start with a question that you think they will be able to answer easily, which will let you include them in the story you’re about to tell.

Here’s an example:

Hi, I’m Thomas. What’s your name?

I’m Dana.

Nice to met you, Dana. What do you do?

I’m in commercial banking. How about you?

Well, in banking I’m sure you know how people have so many passwords to remember these days, but they don’t always use secure ones. 

Yes, it’s a problem. I have too many passwords to remember myself!

Right, and most people use the same insecure password for a lot of their accounts. That’s not good. But it’s impossible to keep track of multiple passwords that are secure. My company created an app that creates and keeps track of all of the different passwords you need and makes it really easy to call them up when you need them. 

That sounds great. What’s the name of the app?

And here’s another example that I used the other day:

Hi, I’m Michael.

Hi, I’m Andrew. What does your company do?

Do you know anyone in marketing at your company?

I’m in HR, but I talk with our marketing director Connie a lot. She really has a lot on her plate.

Yes, solo or small marketing teams are usually stretched pretty thin. We actually work with a lot of in-house marketing directors who have some really good plans in place, but they don’t have the writers, designers, and digital marketers on staff to get everything done that needs to get done. My team helps them with that.

Wow, I think Connie needs to talk to you.

I’d love to speak with her. Some of our clients just need a really good creative team to help execute the plan that is already in place, and some need our strategic guidance to guide or expand their plan. No matter what Connie’s situation is, I’m sure we can find a way to help.


Not every introductory conversation will be the same, and that’s the point. An elevator pitch is written for one person, you. Real connections require more. Give them the courtesy of a conversation—just be ready with your library of nuggets so you feel prepared to tailor the conversation for each individual.

Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash
Too Many Emails from Brands

You Could Have Kept Me if you Gave Me a Choice

There are many companies that I like to hear from through email. I like a good deal, and want to know about upcoming sales. I also like to stay in the loop on new technology, and trends in the world of branding, marketing, and communications. However, most brands don’t let me control the amount of content they send to me.

That’s a shame, because I often want to stay in touch. But I get too much email at home and at work, and I’m tired of weeding through the marketing emails in order to get to the messages that truly need my attention. Retail brands are especially aggressive in this regard — does anyone really want a daily marketing email from a company they just bought something from?

So, unless you give me the opportunity to limit the amount of email you send me, I’ll unsubscribe. The brands that give me the option to reduce the frequency of communications as part of the unsubscribe process usually keep me as a subscriber. Those that don’t lose me forever.

If you’re a marketer, consider the power of choice and give it to your subscribers. You’ll keep more of them engaged over the long term.

Brand Messages Need to be Focused

Don’t Be Afraid of Focus

Focus is sometimes scary because it means potentially missing out on something else. 

But if you’re not focused, you won’t connect with the human beings you want to connect with on the level that makes you engaging and credible. This is true in business and life in general. 

Think about it. When you’re distracted, you can’t participate fully in the task at hand, whether it be a conversation with a loved one, or a personal project you’re working on by yourself. 

In business, when you’re distracted, the noise you create makes your messages unclear. Clients and customers won’t spend much time figuring out if you’re the right fit for them. You need to tell them clearly and quickly.

I’m not saying that we can’t be visionary, entrepreneurial, or open to new opportunities. Just be sure that your communications with colleagues, prospects, and customers are focused and tailored to the human beings receiving them.

Photo by Joyce Romero on Unsplash

Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication

I love shopping with Zappos. They make it easy and fun to shop with them, and very easy to return things (which is important when I buy shoes because I have oddball-sized feet).

And their packaging sends me messages that make me want to give them more business.

“Build open and honest relationships with communication.”

Agreed.

Branding From The Inside Out

Branding from the Inside Out

All brands start with an idea. When that idea is something that can help or inspire others, it has the potential to be a brand. At Imbue, we spend a lot of time working to understand the true essence of a brand so we can help tell its story in a way that connects with the right people. In some cases, brands that are growing fast begin to fragment because they try to broaden their reach rather than focus on the one thing they really do best. 

In other words, we see a lot of organizations try to help everyone, rather than focusing on the ones they set out to help from the start. That’s noble. You’ve got a great product or service that can help almost everyone, why not tell everyone about it?

Here’s why:

  1. You’re more likely to see how your product or service can help the masses because you see the potential, but the general public doesn’t (yet).
  2. You likely can’t afford to tell everyone.
  3. You’ll waste a lot of time and money talking to people who really aren’t the right fit or aren’t ready for a conversation with your brand.
  4. When you try to talk to too many audiences, you risk confusing the one you really should be speaking to with great clarity.

Whether we’re talking about a personal brand, or a company or organization, focus on what’s inside first. Why was the brand established? Who was it created to help? What does the brand stand for in the hearts and minds of the people who created it (and work for it)? 

With those questions answered and with everyone aligned internally, you’ll be better positioned to tell a clear and powerful story to the people you want to serve. 

And remember, focusing on what your brand means to you right now doesn’t mean it can’t change later. Brands evolve as audiences change, competition grows, and new products or services are launched. However, focusing on what the brand means internally, and precisely who it helps right now, is the first step in engaging with a real person who will feel it matters to them today.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash
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