Elevator Pitch

Creating your one liner

Before you can begin marketing your product/service, it’s really important that you can talk about your offering. If it’s not defined to the point that everybody on your team, or a random person from the street can understand it in one short sentence, then you need to stop. Breathe deeply. And start again. You need to build your one liner, this is more powerful than your elevator pitch. It’s you, distilled down to a tweet, with no emoticons, lols or cat pictures.

Moore’s positioning statement from Geoffrey Moore’s book Crossing the Chasm, provides a great template for creating your product definition:

For (target customers)
Who (have the following problem)
Our product is a (describe the product or solution)
That provides (cite the breakthrough capability)
Unlike (reference competition),
Our product/solution (describe the key point of competitive differentiation)

When you’ve nailed your positioning statement down, it’s time to start working on your elevator pitch.
I recommend the following structure:

We (customer) (the solved problem)
Whilst (overcoming a common objection)
With (grandma’s explanation of your solution)

For example:

We allow hospitals to maximize the use of doctors & equipment
Whilst improving the patient experience
With a really clever appointment & queuing system

The overall structure is similar to Moore’s statement, but with a few key differences:

1. Tell people about the solved problem not the problem. Problems are negative, and everybody has them. Don’t’ talk about your solution either, that’s your story not theirs. Instead tell people about what happens when you solve the problem. That’s what they’re waiting to hear. It’s positive, non-technical, story based, and easy to remember.

Example #1:
Problem: Disposable coffee cups burn your hands when hot and are slippery
Solution: Thermally insulated coffee cup sleeves
Statement: We provide café’s the coffee cup sleeves that prevent burns

Example #2:
Problem: Tea gets cold too soon after being poured into a cup
Solution: New ceramic compound with massively improved thermal properties
Statement: We make cups that keep tea hot for hours, for (retail chain)

2. Positively overcome a common objection. Most solutions have a common objection, or a slight negative that you need to work around. Put this in, so it’s clear that you’ve solved the other headaches that go with your solution. Bear in mind that this, like your earlier statement might differ from client to client.

For example:
Statement: We provide café’s the coffee cup sleeves that prevent burns
Included objection handling: They’re made from recycled material, so they’re environmentally friendly too

For example:
Statement: We make cups that keep tea hot for hours, for (retail chain)
Included objection handling: They’re the same price & weight as regular cups

3. Keep the explanation of your solution to it’s simplest possible form. This should be the same as what your grandmother tells her friends that you do. In casual conversation, nobody’s paying enough attention to remember anything more specific, detailed or technical than this.

For example:
Statement: We make cups that keep tea hot for hours, for (retail chain)
Included objection handling: They’re the same price & weight as regular cups
Explanation: We make the cups with our special baking process.

In a lot of scenarios just the first two lines are enough. The explanation is only really necessary if there isn’t an obvious link between your solved problem & your solution. Here’s a real life example for you to think about:

For example, about the medical (C3R) collagen cross linking process:
Statement: We save people from with KC from going blind.
Objection handling: It works on early stage KC
Explanation: We have special drops that strengthen their eyes

Edit: I recently read a post about creating one liners for books, and think the idea of adding some flavour is brilliant. It’s deifnitely something that I’d recommend doing. When I next update this format, I’ll be including Flavour as a must have ingredient.