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April 2019

It's Time To Kill The Elevator Speech
Yes, we are exposed to slick marketing messages, clever presentation ideas and general media technology every day if not every minute!  Slowing down to smell the roses and returning to being a sincere human being with something of value to say, this month "The Credential" introduces you to Bill Brelsford, Rebar Business Builders.  Bill is a Marketing Consultant specializing in helping B2B and professional services firms grow their business.  His background as a C.P.A., custom software developer, and marketing consultant provides unique insights into the marketing and sales challenges faced by professional service firms.  Now, it's time to relearn how to start a more meaningful conversation and make your networking efforts more effective.  
Raise your hand if you love giving your elevator speech.  Now raise your hand if you love listening to other peoples elevator speeches. I'm guessing you didn't raise your hand either time - did you? 

You're not alone.  I've been helping folks with their marketing and sales for 16 years and I've yet to see anyone show much love for the elevator speech. 
There are many reasons to dislike the elevator speech.  Perhaps the two biggest reasons are its awkwardness and its ineffectiveness. 

Its awkward to give.  It's awkward to listen to.  It rarely, if ever, evokes the response we were taught it would. 

The elevator speech is ineffective for professionals, particularly A/E/LA companies.

Michael Port says it best in "Book Yourself Solid": 

"The elevator pitch was born so that the entrepreneur could pitch an idea to a venture capitalist or angel investor in the hopes of receiving funding, not for the service professional to try to build a relationship of trust with a potential client." 

The way we start those relationships and build that trust is through conversations. 


What do you think of when you hear the words pitch, commercial, or speech?  I picture a fire hose of words hitting me in the face.  All I want is to make it stop.  It's not a conversation - it's a monologue.

Now picture a conversation between two people who actually care about what the other has to say.  A dialogue.  That's what we need to build a relationship of trust. 


How do we start these types of conversations?

How can we be prepared so we know what to say but don't sound like we are reciting a script? 

Scripts are something that we memorize and repeat back to an audience.  There is little variation (if any) between readings.  Most elevator speeches are - scripts. 

Instead of scripts, let's think in terms of conversational recipes.  Like a regular recipe, conversational recipes have two parts - 1) ingredients and 2) steps for putting those ingredients together. 

Unless you are a professional chef, you probably don't follow the recipe the same way every time.  You substitute ingredients, or vary the amounts to feed more (or fewer) people.  You may add your own twist.  But with experience, you can turn out something that tastes good. 

Learning to have meaningful conversations about what you do and who you help is much like following - and adjusting - a recipe. 

Let's start with ingredients.  You'll want to have these six ingredients on hand.

Title/Industry - you may have heard that you shouldn't use your title when talking about what you do.  However, including your title ("I'm an engineer") is important because it provides context.  You just don't want your recipe to include only this one ingredient. 

Target Market - a one sentence description of your target market (for example, retail, hospitality, restaurants-chains want to hear how the Customer Experience can be enhanced within the context of the Branded Environment). 

Challenges - The three biggest/most critical problems your target market faces (for example, individual jurisdiction codes, client budgets, environmental hazards, marketplace differentiation and context).

Solutions - describe how you solve those challenges.  Include the ways that people buy those solutions (whether via courses, packages, custom design solutions, problem solving ideas, investment strategies or site visibility assessment).  

Results - Demonstrate the #1 most relevant result your clients achieve.  Use numbers if you can.  Be as specific as possible (for example, business augmentation, market capture, on time delivery and budgetary compliance). 

Deeper Benefits - Reveal deeper core benefits.  These are typically longer-term benefits.  Benefits like "more free time" and "more time to work on, rather than in your business."  When used alone they make elevator speeches sound ambiguous.  These benefits are important, but you don't want your recipe to only use this ingredient (whether effective and efficient practice procedures, risk management strategies, or offering single point responsibility). 

Write out 1 or 2 conversational sentences for each ingredient above.

Putting the Ingredients Together

Important note - we are not writing a script.  We're building a framework for having a conversation. 

Let's look at three recipes for starting a dialogue. For now, I'll refer to them as Short, Medium and Long.  However, with practice, you'll find they blend together into one conversation.  

Here is your Short Version recipe:

I'm a [title], I provide [target market] [results]. 

Medium Version

I'm a [title]
I provide [target market]
You know how [target market] [insert 1 or more challenges]?
Well, what I do is [solutions][results]. 

Long Recipe

I'm a [title]

You know how [target market] [insert 1 or more challenges]? 

Well, what I do is [solutions]

The result is [results]

The benefits are [deeper benefits]. 

You now have three recipes that will help you explain what you do without sounding boring, bland, or confusing. 

Those are just three possible combinations.  Feel free to experiment with your own combinations. 

Remember, you're not writing a speech.  You're simply using a framework to have a meaningful conversation with another person.  You don't have to use all of your ingredients.  It's okay to use them out of order.  The goal is not to "wow" the other person.  The goal is to start a dialogue.  A two-way conversation that hopefully leads to a relationship based on trust. 

Let's kill the elevator speeches and make room for meaningful conversations. 

Starting a professional services business, growing an A/E/LA firm, experiencing organization transition are all impacted and influenced by human interaction and communications.  Considering Bill's "back to the basics" approach, we encourage you to take stock of your most precious assets, your credentials -
professional licenses, professional affiliation memberships, corporate credentials compliance are all requirements necessary for your successful performance as an Architect, Engineer and Landscape Architect.  We can help, visit or call us at 913-608-7880. 

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