November 26, 2014

Read Small Message, Big Impact to Get Your Message Out in a Big Way

Small Message, Big ImpactWanna know a secret?  I’m a marketing expert and my elevator pitch STINKS.  Come to think of it, I don’t really have a good elevator pitch.  The other day I was at one of those networking events where people get up to introduce themselves and some of them have these snazzy, memorized elevator pitches.  I don’t have anything against those, but that really isn’t my style.

What about you?  Do you have an elevator pitch?  When did you put it together?  And did you know that in addition to the internet, social media and marketing in general — elevator pitches have evolved and gotten more sophisticated.   I KNOW — it’s crazy!  And after I tell you all about this new book called Small Message, Big Impact the Elevator Speech Effect by Terri Sjodin (@terrisjodin) , you’re going to find yourself going back to the drawing board on your elevator pitch.  Now that I’ve told you that, I don’t feel so bad about not having worked on mine.

So let’s take a peek inside Small Message, Big Impact and see if we can take our elevator pitch into the 21st century.

But First, A Word About The Author

I haven’t met Terri Sjodin, but I feel (and I think you will, too) like I know her.  I got this feeling from her honest sharing of her first experience with the elevator pitch.  Anyone who has been in sales and tried to get that big account will relate to her story, her creativity and her spunk when she decided to land that big account and then showed up in his office parking lot at the crack of dawn with a white rose — just to earn a 10 minute appointment.  She says it was a lame attempt at an elevator pitch — I say it was brilliant.

Terri is the principal and founder of Sjodin Communications, a public speaking, sales training, and consulting firm.  She’s been a speaker and consultant for Fortune 500 companies, industry associations, academic conferences, CEOs and members of Congress (may not nearly enough members of Congress, but I digress).  What’s most impressive about Terri is her insight about the fact that our relationship building and referral conversations have changed and that our elevator pitch has to change with them.

What Do An Elevator Pitch And The Butterfly Effect Have In Common?

This entire book hinges on the concept of the Butterfly Effect – the phenomenon inspired by Edward Lorenz, an MIT mathematician.  The concept is that a small change in one part of the world can create a huge impact on another side of the world.  She makes her point clearly in the opening of the book where she tells a story about running into your ideal client in an airport.  Maybe your circumstances are different – but you get it.  Who hasn’t had the experience of being presented with an opportunity to impress or to create a new business opportunity and squandered it because you didn’t know what to say and how to start the conversation?

The Right Pitch For The Right Time

Small Message, Big Impact is based on the idea that you can’t have just one elevator pitch.  You have to have several that are at your disposal and top of mind so that you can approach these serendipitous opportunities with grace and ease.  The book is written in twelve chapters that take you by the hand and educate you on why it’s important to have a custom pitch and how to create one for every occasion.

Chapter 2 hits on what I see as the most important thing to “get” out of this book — your INTENTION.  It’s your intention for that person or for that circumstance that will define which elevator pitch you’re going to use.  When I read this, I just about fell off my chair because this is what I think has been holding me back.  I’ve been working on a single elevator pitch and never used it because it never seemed to fit the circumstance.  You’ll want to read this chapter carefully and make sure that you understand and integrate what Sjodin is trying to get across.

Chapter 3 gives you the outline for a successful elevator pitch.  That’s nothing new.  But were Sjodin strikes paydirt is that she reminds us that we will often have three basic intentions with our pitch; to inform, persuade or simply present.  There is also a template that is at the end of the chapter for you to use.  In fact, everywhere she introduces a new outline, she provides a template.  Each subsequent chapter guides you through the process and shares stories from real people that you can relate to and their challenges and successes related to the elevator pitch process. Then, at the end of the book there is an appendix where you will find all the templates together.

What Was Missing For Me

Maybe it’s my insecurity or writer’s block when it comes to these things, but I wish there were MORE examples of elevator pitches included that showed the progression of brainstorm, to first draft to finished draft using the templates provided.  When I sat down and looked at the template — I literally froze up and my brain just shut down.

For example here is the first template:

  • Introduction
  1. Grab the listener’s attention _____________________.
  2. Tell them where you are going__________.
  • Body
  1. Talking point 1
  2. Talking point 2
  3. Talking point 3

I was overwhelmed at “Grab the listener’s attention” – I just froze up.  I would have loved to see examples there.  Don’t get me wrong — there are examples there.   I just wanted more.

How To Read This Book

It really depends on your work style.  But I would recommend reading this book as a group.  Think of it as a working book club.  Read the book and come prepared to run a few sessions together helping each other put these principles into practice for each of your businesses.  You can each read the book on your own and develop some drafts and ideas, then work together exchanging ideas.  I’ve often found that my colleagues, team members and friends often see things in my business that I’ve either forgotten or didn’t realize had value.
You’re Not Going To Want To Read Or Do This – But You Should
I’m really glad I received this review copy and read it.  It confirmed what I knew for sure — you don’t have much time to get your branded message out there.  And if you don’t get it out there clearly, you’re missing out on opportunities.  I have to admit that the thought of creating several elevator pitches sort of makes me sick.  I mean, I haven’t even done the FIRST one — I can’t even imagine doing more than one.  But if you’ve come to the point where you NEED to have the pitch be just right — this is the book for you.
4 Comments ▼

Ivana Taylor - Book Editor


Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is Book Editor for Small Business Trends and publisher of DIYMarketers , where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is the President of Third Force, Inc., a marketing firm that specializes in getting your ideal customer to choose you. Ivana is the book editor for Small Business Trends and co-author of the book "Excel for Marketing Managers."

4 Reactions

  1. Ivana, I think that this is one of the most interesting posts I’ve ever come across today. Most people can grab other people’s attention but don’t have a clue where they are going. Nice points!

    • WOW — thanks John! I’m assuming you’re talking about my openness about having a stinky elevator pitch! I’m not sure what it is, but I’ve found that being really open about what’ I’m thinking in my writing seems to resonate. Just a realization that looking good is over rated I guess. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Hi Ivana,
    Thank you. I found you when I was doing my Scoop It newsletter. The thing that grabbed me was your first line – it’s exactly how I felt. Your openness is refreshing.

    I need to develop my elevator speeches which terrifies me, but what’s the sense of having great products and not letting anyone know about them? I may have to read this book and start working on these speeches.

    Thanks again.

    • Hi Brenda – I’m so glad you liked the review — I need to develop an elevator pitch too – nothing has changed since I’ve written this review. I feel like I have a phobia around the whole thing. I’m never really happy with anything I come up with. I feel like it needs to roll off the tongue and be easy enough to remember. But I just haven’t gotten there yet. Let me know how YOU do :)

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