What do you stand for?

These days your average consumer on the street suffers with advertising fatigue. They’re tired of having marketing messages forced on them. Impervious to your offers, resistant to ruses to …

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10th May 2007 at 9:28 pm

These days your average consumer on the street suffers with advertising fatigue. They’re tired of having marketing messages forced on them. Impervious to your offers, resistant to ruses to get their attention…

But they do respond positively to authentic brands. Brands that stand for something. Brands with integrity. Brands with conviction. Good old fashioned values are back in vogue. Probably for good.

So as a small business – where you and your brand are often one and the same – it’s crucial that you know what you stand for. More to the point you’ve got to be able to articulate it well. And at a moment’s notice.

Saying what you stand for in a compelling and condensed manner is often called ‘The Elevator Pitch‘, it’s how you would explain your product and service to a potential customer if you only had a few seconds to impress…

As a small business owner or manager, you know your business intimately. But quite often you are too close to your business (and too passionate) to be able to sell yourself succinctly. Doing this takes practice and probably a pen in the first instance. (I’m certainly not advocating a day spent practising, by going up and down in a lift, engaging unsuspecting passengers. But an hour or two of quiet thinking time probably wouldn’t go amiss). Then trying it out on a handful of people who aren’t too familiar with you and what you do to judge their responses (and make some tweaks) is also a good idea.

But before you even begin to put your elevator pitch together, it might be an idea to figure out what 3 or 4 values are absolutely central to your brand and make you and your business unique. The combination of these values forms the core of your customer proposition. If your values spring to mind and you know they’re the values you’re prepared to stand up and be counted by, great! If you’re less sure, don’t worry. Next week I’m going to give a blow by blow account of how to unearth your brand’s core values and a foolproof process for combining them together to achieve the killer proposition. See you in the lobby!

Sara Scott

Sara is a marketing specialist with a wealth of on-line and traditional experience. With award winning credentials as an advertising writer, her career also spans the disciplines of planning and strategy for both B2B and consumer clients. Having worked for one of the the UK's biggest non-London agencies, Sara now works on a consultancy basis for clients large and small. http://www.smallbizpod.co.uk/blog

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  1. Brett Hollis says:

    Great! Another insightful blog entry. Thanks Sara. I look forward to next weeks, as I’m currently looking at this exact subject, and trying to become a pro at describing what we do in as short a time as possible.

  2. sherry borzo says:

    Thanks Sara for your post. I’ve got what I believe to be a succinct elevator speech and I KNOW what I mean when I say it. Sometimes though I hear other people peg what I’m doing as “oh you’re just like this other person” which I realize may have to do with the something missing in my message. When I hear other people repeat it back to me and it’s wrong I know it’s time to revisit the elevator.

  3. I have some business cards and other media to support me for when I pitch B2B. I feel I am slowly getting my pitch right but strangely never seem to use the same (planned) pitch twice – does anybody else have this problem? and how can I perfect this?

  4. Brett Hollis says:

    Anthony, I think that’s great. I mean, you don’t want to become a stale, boring, business mantra chanting robot. You articulate your business to someone as it comes at any given time. Whoa betide the corporate moron who repeats himself over and over again. As long as the essential message and ‘punch’ are the same, who cares if it’s different?

    There is the chance that you could be within earshot of someone whom you have ‘pitched to’ anyway. I’m sure they’d be more impressed if you seemed a little more dynamic, while remaining focused anyway.

    Keep it up! 🙂

  5. Thanks for that Brett, and I mus admit its more fun stirring it up a bit. Should work be fun? 🙂

  6. Sara Scott Sara Scott says:

    For me, your elevator pitch should be natural and that means it’s bound to be fluid and evolve along with your perceptions of yourself and your purpose. Maintaining a thread of continuity is the critical thing – it helps your customers orientate themselves in relation to what you do. Lose the thread and you become schizophrenic, unrecognizable from one customer interaction to the next and potentially, unbuyable!!

    Support materials that deliver your message with a similar amount of clout are always good to have. They promote recall and should always include your all important contact details. With this important base-line communication in place, you should be able to improvise with confidence!

  7. Eamon says:

    ‘and make you and your business unique’ – I think this is spot on.

    I would just like to add the words ‘benefit’ and ‘relevant’. The business has to offer something ‘unique’ to customers / consumers that is ‘relevant’ to them and going to be of valued ‘benefit’ to them.

    I think the word ‘authentic’ is also important. ‘Authentic’ is a powerful value that differentiates a business from other businesses that some customers / consumers might believe are too dependent on advertising / branding instead of what they really want – quality products, good customer service, and so on.

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